Imagine 75 billion fully loaded 16GB Apple iPads. Now try to cram the machines in to Auckland’s Sky Tower – you’d actually need 3093 Sky Towers to contain them all. But that’s how much data exists in the world today. And if you think that’s scary, at 1.2 Zettabytes, the amount of digital information created in the world in 2010 will exceed the total amount ever created up to 2009 by 50%. The point is, we are creating so much data we that are constantly having to find ways of (A) storing it, (B) minimising the stockpile and (C) somehow managing it! As you probably already know, your digital universe is growing relative to that of the globe’s, so where are you going to put it all? Managing information While most SME managers understand the need to store more efficiently, unfortunately rarely do they have a strategy to control the growth. Even fewer have actually implemented a strategy to automatically classify new information and manage it through its life cycle to increase its value. Virtualisation can reduce hardware costs and provide energy savings to a business. Storage virtualisation is the amalgamation of multiple network storage devices into what appears to be a single storage unit. New approaches to IT and storage management mean SMEs can achieve better power management, cutting operational costs, minimising the risk of power-related outages and reducing the environmental footprint. In simple language, data storage is more efficient, recovery is quicker and data is better protected than if it’s sitting in your PC or laptop. Head in the cloudsFor most SMEs, building your own data centre is out of the question, but… you can always hire it from someone next door, someone down the road, someone down country, or even someone offshore. It’s called ‘the cloud’. There is massive growth in cloud services and basically there are three types: external, internal and private. The external cloud uses resources outside the business. The internal cloud is often a virtualised data centre that’s inside the business. The private cloud is a sort of hybrid of the two, blending together the best of both worlds. It has some major advantages – the private cloud maintains your normal workloads while you use the external cloud for peak demands when necessary. It’s much more efficient than buying and building hardware for peak workloads. In a tough business environment, managers are increasingly choosing cloud services over building and running their own IT infrastructures. Because, with data growing at a staggering rate of between 40 and 70% every year, you must think ahead and be agile. And no-one wants 3000-odd black box Sky Towers blotting out the sun.