Ever since computers and related technologies became mainstays of the business world, small companies have been at a comparative disadvantage in the race for digital supremacy. That's because large companies have the financial wherewithal to deploy complex computing environments and infrastructure, while their smaller peers had to make do with prosumer-grade technologies.
Lately, however, advancements in networking technology and open-source software solutions have closed the gap between SMBs and enterprises. Without spending a fortune, SMBs can now deploy high-end technology that can finally compete with the big boys. Here's a look at three major categories of SMB solutions that now provide enterprise-grade performance at SMB-friendly price.
If you ask anyone who's worked recently for a major corporation and a small business what the biggest difference they notice is from a technology standpoint, they're sure to have one answer: WiFi. It's a critical part of any modern computer network, but it is something that many SMBs never get right. Their offices are often plagued with signal problems, throughput issues, and access control headaches, mostly because they rely on gear designed for home networking, rather than professional use.
Today, there are a variety of WiFi solutions aimed at SMBs that do a vastly better job than previous options, and they don't cost an arm and a leg. Vendors like Cisco, Ubiquti, and MikroTic have SMB-grade access points available for as little as $40 and all use management software that even a casual IT enthusiast could understand. That means SMBs can now build robust, dead spot-free WiFi networks with no compromises, for optimal performance in any office environment.
Remote Access Solutions
Another major advantage that big companies used to have was in their ability to support a mobile workforce with remote access technologies like Citrix and Microsoft's Terminal Services. Now, SMBs can do the same by providing employees with direct access to their office desktops from virtually any device while they're on-the-go. With no additional on-site hardware needed, solutions like Splashtop and Nomachine (which is completely free) turn every user's desktop into their own remote access system.
When paired with a commercial VPN service for extra security on the road, you get a safe and reliable remote work infrastructure for the SMB set. The good news is that there are plenty of commercial VPNs available, as this VPN review demonstrates, and many have small business-oriented offerings meant for supporting remote workers – so any SMB can roll their own remote access solution with minimal expense.
Of all of the costly computing hurdles SMBs must overcome, there is none more important than maintaining the security of their systems and data. It's critical because, at this point, nearly half of all cyberattacks are now directed at SMBs, and they have the most to lose. In fact, statistics indicate that about 60% of SMBs that fall victim to a cyberattack go out of business within six months.
Now, however, SMBs can deploy sophisticated cybersecurity solutions that rival those found at much larger firms.
Companies like FireEye and Carbon Black can provide SMBs with cloud-based digital security monitoring and management, with little to no hardware to manage on-site. They offer SMBs an inexpensive way to protect their businesses without the need to hire in-house experts to keep an eye on their digital systems. They also bring the power of advanced AI and predictive analytics to bear on the problem, helping SMBs to stay safe from emerging threats that may even elude the defenses of enterprise IT systems.
State of the Art Technology
Judging by the solutions covered here, it should be obvious that SMBs no longer have to be second-class citizens when it comes to technology. They can now emulate many of the capabilities that enterprises have long used to great advantage, often with few changes to their existing setups. As these and other technologies continue to mature, the gap between SMBs and their larger competitors will only continue to narrow – and one day the big guys may be the ones casting an envious eye at the SMB sector, wondering, why can't our system do that?