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Integrated Systems are growing in popularity

Integrated systems are growing in popularity amongst businesses, providing them with server, storage, network and software elements that are integrated, pretested and optimized.

So, why are they so popular? The answer lies in the fact that they offer, medium-sized businesses in particular, a system that is pre-integrated and ready to go. Analyst firm Gartner characterises integrated systems as “combinations of server, storage, and network infrastructure, sold with management software that facilitates the provisioning and management of the combined unit.”

And according to analyst firm IDC, the worldwide integrated infrastructure and platforms market grew by 19.4% between Q4 2013 and Q4 2014: to $2.7bn."An expanding number of organizations around the world are turning to integrated systems as a way to address longstanding and difficult infrastructure challenges," said Eric Sheppard, Research Director, Storage. "This drove $2.1bn of net-new spending in 2014 and makes these solutions an increasingly rare source of high growth within the broader infrastructure marketplace."

A good example of an Integrated System is FUJITSU PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-boxOpen a new window. One firm that is benefiting from this total solution is Barrie Knitwear. Their IT Manager, Mark Kirkwood, describes it like this: "Fujitsu’s Cluster-In-a-Box is a resilient, reliable and flexible platform that will support our business and growth... It allows us to quickly provision new services while minimizing downtime. It is a cost-effective, simple solution that meets our needs exactly."

Among the benefits that integrated solutions like Cluster-in-a-box can bring, are: improved performance; lower operating expenditure costs and greater IT optimization; and increased automation, according to Gartner. The analyst firm adds that they also bring: simplified sourcing and support; faster infrastructure time-to-value; and support in moving from it maintenance to IT innovation.

So, what should you look for in an integrated system? Ideally, everything should come from a single source with a single point of contact, because this makes life easier in terms of purchasing and managing  your IT.

With this in mind, Fujitsu is a single-source supplier for many integrated systems. Just two prime examples of systems for mid-market organizations are FUJITSU Integrated System PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-box and FUJITSU vShape.

FUJITSU PRIMEFLEX Cluster-in-a-boxOpen a new window offers a well-balanced combination of server, storage, and networking components in one compact enclosure that takes up to 70% less space than traditional servers. Microsoft Windows Server 2012 is pre-installed and pre-configured as a high-availability cluster. Furthermore, the system ensures continuous business operations, almost without downtime, thanks to integrated availability mechanisms, with failover clustering and redundant hardware components.

The second Fujitsu integrated systems offering is FUJITSU vShapeOpen a new window, a virtualization and private cloud reference architecture that integrates the expertise and technologies of leading manufacturers. vShape offers a simple concept with highly scalable industry-standard components including storage, networking and virtualization software, all running on Fujitsu servers. All these components are ideally synchronized and validated as a single solution.

Both of these Fujitsu integrated systems enable you to consolidate your IT, which means you need less hardware and can use what you have more efficiently, reducing operational costs and efforts. And by using scalable architectures, tailored to your application requirements, the purchase cost, deployment time and provisioning time are all lowered. Benefits such as these make integrated systems worth investigating, and it’s clear why they are growing in popularity amongst mid-market organizations.

Storage and Backup: a Central Issue

Let’s talk about backup. Wait, don’t run away! All right, I know it’s a sticky subject, but ignoring is not going to make anything better. Why is it that people don’t like backup? Because it’s such a pain. And why is it such a pain? Well? Because your storage is a mess. Good, now we’re getting somewhere, but you will need to suffer just a little bit more. But I promise you’ll feel better, real soon! So. Why do you think your storage became that sort of a mess? Be honest. It’s because it just sort of grew as time went by. Well, if it’s any comfort, there’s a lot of that going around. In fact, small-to-medium enterprises are notorious for their less-than-stellar storage infrastructures.

Now, let me get one thing straight: storage is evolutionary, and it could not be anything else. There are no revolutions in storage, because revolutionizing storage, your storage, would mean ripping out the old and installing a shiny new system-that-does-it-all. First, that’s expensive, and second, what are you going to do with the data while the technicians put in the new gear?

It still pays to take a long, hard look at what you are using, and at what you might be using. Most of what you have is probably good to stay, but you might consider a new approaching to managing it. Consider what you would want, and what your people would love to have. What you want is security for your data and a lid on costs, while your people would basically want to do things as they have until now.

Believe it or not, there is a solution. Modern storage management lets you centralize data while still leaving individual users with their own personal arrangements, all the while ensuring efficiency, for instance, avoiding inadvertent backup of several versions of the same document. And centralized storage does not need to mean spending a lot of money: virtualization is one way to unify management without having to replace a lot of hardware.

If you do consider centralized storage (and you probably should), look beyond today. Why? Well, your system did evolve in the past, didn’t it? And so what do you think it will do in the future? Get it? Exactly: your system will grow organically, as it always has. So what is important is that you allow for growth and increasing complexity in the solution you choose. After all, it’s that growth and increasing complexity that generated the headache you have now.

So take heart: there is a solution to your storage problem, and it does not require you to boil the ocean. What you will need to do is take a long, hard look at your requirements today and tomorrow and to choose the right supplier. Chances are, choosing just one supplier will mean spending a little more money, but in return, you’ll get valuable advice and assistance in building a future-proof system. Once that’s in place, backup will no longer be a pain. Just the opposite: the peace of mind knowing that your data is safe, will make you feel good. So be good to yourself, invest in a modern storage system. You’ll be glad you did.

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