Paradigm shift in SMB network development

Before we jump into Gen3, it behooves us to talk about how the typical Gen2 network was developed in order to establish a baseline. We can then highlight the deviations Gen3 brings to the table.

Back in the old days; say pre-2009, SMB (Small Medium Business) networks and LE (Large Enterprise) networks were pretty similar. They differed in size and complexity, but the overall architecture was similar. A single OS would be loaded on a single piece of computer hardware. If the server was for internal use, it would be located on the network backbone. If it was to be accessible from the Internet, it would get located in a DMZ. Again both SMB and LE followed this model, just at different scales.

Then public IaaS hit the market and things began to change. Rather than building an internal infrastructure, SMBs started deploying server instances in public IaaS space. This made sense for a number of reasons:

  • Cost – Public IaaS uses a “pay as you go” model. So while it may cost thousands of dollars to deploy a server in a private setting, in public space there are no upfront costs. You simply pay for what you use.
  • Management – In public cloud there is no hardware to manage. There are no memory chips to upgrade or CPUs that become slow and dated. The tenant is completely isolated from hardware liabilities.
  • Security – You can argue whether cloud deployments are more or less secure (and I’ll do so in a later post), but at the SMB level this is a no brainer. Most SMBs are light on security talent, while most providers are not. So the argument changes from “Which is more secure?” to “Who can more most effectively negate risk?”.
  • Growth – If I want to add a new server in a private setting, there are lead times to deploying the hardware. In a public setting, I simply add a new server instance. So public IaaS permits the compute and storage infrastructure to follow a “just in time manufacturing” model. Deployment time shifts from taking weeks/months to minutes. Further, the same is true in reverse. In a private setting if I decommission a server I need to figure out what to do with an underpowered piece of hardware (don’t throw those heavy metals into a land fill!). In a public setting this is a non-issue.

So public IaaS gives SMB’s the tools necessary to keep up with the LE’s. Compute and storage can be expanded or contracted as required, while financing these resources can be deferred until income begins to flow. In short, access to public IaaS can turbo charge the growth curve of a fledgling business.

Like most things in life however, there are trade offs with locating all resources in public space. We’ll dig into that in the next post.

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