Management is different for SMBs, remote offices

* Management for small businesses and remote branch offices

Small and midsized businesses and remote branch offices are challenging environments for those who have to manage them and keep the infrastructure running. Some of the challenges are due to the nature of these environments - such as limited on-site expertise and competing priorities. Other challenges are due to a lack of management tools at the right price for smaller shops.

RBOs, which are typically connected to a larger organization with IT staffs and data centers, may not receive the same level of management services given to the larger corporate locations.

In some cases, local support for remote locations may be nil or limited, or management may even be outsourced to a managed service provider. This can also be true of SMBs.

When I’ve written about some of the visions of management that some of the large management vendors are working on, I’ve received responses from folks at SMBs who complain that these visions do not pertain to them. This is because these companies are struggling with “keeping it all together” and doing what they need to do, which is sometimes at a more basic level.

The far-reaching visions are too far out of reach for some of these companies.

Large management vendors have been setting their sights on products for SMBs. The products are usually enterprise tools that have been tailored for the SMB market, and their functionality is typically limited when compared with the enterprise versions.

I think it’s time to give you, our RBO and SMB readers, the opportunity to let your voices be heard regarding management. If you are responsible for managing an SMB or RBO environment, please send e-mail to my colleague Scott Crawford (I’ll be out on vacation) at with the subject line “SMB/RBO.”

Here are the topics I’d like you to weigh in on:

* What are the IT management challenges that you face?

* What are your IT management priorities for your SMB or RBO environment? In other words, what are the most important management capabilities that you already have, and what do you need? And why?

* Do the SMB versions of enterprise management products meet your needs? Why or why not?

* What is your environment like (a general description)?

I look forward to hearing from our SMB and RBO readers. As always, if there is a sufficient number of responses, I will report the results back to you in a follow-up article. Again, the e-mail address for this topic is

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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