In today's highly computerized world, it's impossible to stay ahead without using technology. If you're running a small business, it's safe to assume that you don't have a lot of money to hire a lot of IT managers. You have someone to call if you need any significant computer repairs or work done, but when it comes to the day-to-day management of your business' network, everyone is pretty much on their own. It can be difficult to keep up with your regular duties and also maintain your computer network, but you don't have to be an IT wiz to keep everything running smoothly. If you keep the following advice in mind, you'll be able to keep everything organized and running well.
Be aware of possible performance issues
Computers make life much easier, but they aren't perfect. Sometimes computers can have problems for seemingly no reason. A program may crash, the Internet may be slow for a few hours, but these small problems usually aren't cause for an alarm. Tell your employees to inform you of any computer problems they may be experiencing. A few isolated incidents won't be anything to worry about, but repeated problems could be a sign that something is wrong with the device, or your programs and networks.
Use "business-grade" equipment and programs
A lot of owners make the mistake of using computers and software made for regular consumers to run their small business. Others simply pick out whichever computers, mobile phones, or laptops are the cheapest and use them for their work. However, consumer networking products essentially lack the enhancement and features that you need to properly run a business. They rarely have the correct programs for administration and management, and the ones that do aren't prepared to handle the needs of a small enterprise. Programs and software like NetApp and the Tivoli storage manager are designed for businesses, and can help you much more than any other consumer oriented product would.
Plan ahead for downtime
Maybe the newest update for an essential program ended up causing problems for your computers. Or maybe a power outage caused your computers to restart, and it's taking a long time to get everything up and running again. Either way, problems that affect your computers and network are bound to happen, and you need to be prepared to handle any down time they may cause. A simple malfunction or network problem could take you anywhere from a few minutes to a day to fix, and you want to make sure that you can have everything working again as soon as possible. Know who you can call for emergency IT work, and always make sure that you have your data backed up.
If you own a small to medium sized business, you may think that there isn't much to worry about in terms of the safety of your information. After all, why would a hacker or cyber criminal go after your business when they could be targeting other larger and much more profitable companies? Unfortunately, that false assumption ends up costing business owners a lot of time and money.
A report from the cyber security firm Symantec showed that in 2012, 31% of all cyber attacks were committed against businesses with fewer than 250 employees. Cyber attacks are on the rise, and everyone needs to take precautions to protect their data. Security network services can help you keep your data secure, but many small business owners don't see the point in using them, which is a big mistake. Here are some of the ways that small businesses are vulnerable to cyber criminals:
Lost or stolen devices
Mobile phones have come a long way over the past decade, and now it isn't uncommon for people to use their phones for work. Most people don't view their smartphones as actual computers, and that line of thought has the potential to be dangerous. Your mobile phone should have as much protection as your work laptop or computer, but since most people don't bother to set security standards on their phones or install security programs, most smart phones are very vulnerable to hackers.
Your own employees
There is a big elephant in the room when people discuss the important of cyber security for businesses, and it's the fact that the average employee can pose a significant security risk. A disgruntled or upset former employee could send crucial data to competitors, or could simply cause problems on your business' network. Worse yet, it's much more likely for a current and happy employee to cause problems. They could accidently download malware or spyware when they open an e-mail or click a link. They may not properly set a password for their computer and could leave it vulnerable to hackers. Your employees need to be educated on the basics of cyber security so that they don't make a mistake that could harm your company.
Is your backup plan assisting you as you work through the phases of Meaningful Use?
A lot of companies are going through business transformations to ensure they remain relevant to their Clients and in their industries. What IT challenges are you facing in your transformation?
Click here to watch Solutions II's President and CEO, Todd Bowling, discuss Solutions II's Business Transformation during IBM's PartnerWorld Leadership Conference last week.
When it comes to competition either across the world or via the internet marketplace, can smaller companies afford to compete globally with larger corporations without outsourcing important business functions such as IT? What are your thoughts in regards to the three questions, posed to address, this issue referenced on CFO.com?
While outsourcing can be a growth vitamin, small to-midsize companies must ask three questions before taking the plunge.
Global competitors, the Internet marketplace, and higher customer expectations have raised the bar for small to-midsize businesses (SMBs). The products and services delivered by smaller companies have to meet or exceed not just their comparably-sized peers, but also those of larger corporations with vastly greater resources. In many areas, these smaller companies simply cannot hope to compete using a do-it-yourself approach.
Instead of focusing on the cost advantages associated with moving jobs overseas, smaller businesses are using outsourcing to punch above their weight in critical business functions, including IT, transportation and logistics, and procurement. For smaller businesses, there are three questions that need to be answered when defining targets of opportunity for outsourcing…
Here’s the article: http://tinyurl.com/byvc9kv
Here’s an interesting point of view on the TCO on Cloud Technology from an article on CFO.com:
Q: I’m a finance officer, not a technologist. Can you guarantee that the total cost of ownership for the cloud is lower than what I’m already spending for my on-premises IT?
A: That depends upon what you’re already spending. Do you know?
According to Forrester senior analyst Dave Bartoletti, most companies are not all that good at knowing how much it really costs to run an application because IT departments “are still seen as cost centers.” The company buys the servers, the storage, and the applications, and flips the switch. “What does it cost to run?” Bartoletti asks rhetorically. “Who knows? You just depreciate the assets over a certain amount of time and after they’re fully depreciated, you buy more.” Even organizations that account for staff costs, maintenance, energy — all the indirect spend that goes into producing a service the business needs to run — will probably not be able to cost out individual applications with any degree of accuracy. How much, for example, does your e-mail cost? “If your CIO can’t tell you it’s x, y, z, per box,” Hotels and Resorts CIO Mike Blake tells CFO, “that’s a problem.”
“Enterprises are making significant investments in cloud technology in pursuit of lower costs,” says Dave Zabrowski, founder and CEO of Cloud Cruiser, a provider of cost analytics for cloud consumers, but “if you can’t see what you’re spending, there’s a good chance you’re spending too much.”
And that problem, that financial black box, has been the bane of the finance officer’s life in the IT age. The cloud, if nothing else, presents an opportunity to open that black box, although it doesn’t do so by itself.
To read the full article on FAQs for CFOs on Cloud Technology go to: http://www3.cfo.com/article/2012/7/the-cloud_cloud-faqs-for-cfos
Is your IT Department Viewed as able to Drive Business Grown in New Areas or Just to Increase Effeciencies? What do you think of this study referenced in an article from CIO.com?
“A study by Juniper Networks and the Economist Business Unit finds that IT is succeeding at improving the efficiency of business processes, but most IT departments are failing to take the next step in becoming a strategic partner for business."
It should come as no surprise—IT has moved out of the data centers and wiring closets and is now working closely with the business side to make existing processes more efficient. And IT departments are succeeding in increasing the efficiency of business. However, they are also falling short when it comes to strategic transformation—to driving business growth in new areas—according to a new survey by Juniper Networks and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
"'We found that businesses today are primarily looking at IT to save money—for organizational efficiency," says Bask Iyer, CIO of Juniper. "IT is not really looked at for growth. But the most financially successful companies are doing what other companies are not doing. They're working closely with IT to develop new products. And they say IT is supporting their business growth by helping identify new opportunities. The highest performing companies are clearly seeing the benefits. They tend to look at the CIO role and IT as a strategic partner rather than as a backroom operator."
We have noticed a trend with some of our Clients lately. They are purchasing less tape drives and moving to VTL, Snapshots and Disk Archives. Most Clients tell us that the cost of new tape drives and tapes, along with the services to store these tapes, help justify the cost of disk-based solutions. Add in a reduced Recovery Time Objective (RTO) and Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and it is easy to see why the industry is moving in this direction. What is your experience? Is tape a dead technology or will it always have a place in the IT world?
Here’s a quick follow up to the hospital in the midst of changing their backup environment:
90 days into the conversion, 38% of the servers have been migrated to the new backup software. The backup infrastructure went from 3 backup servers to 7 backup servers. Senior management has also mandated that all of the remaining servers be migrated before the end of the current calendar year, along with all of the archive data in the environment. This adds a significant amount of pressure on the existing IT staff to work long hours and weekends.
The current risk at the hospital is employee burn-out and potential staff turnover. One way senior management is addressing this concern is by leveraging outside consultants to perform the data migrations to minimize the risk of not meeting the deadline established for the project. The outsourced consultants where not factored in to the overall cost of the solution. Senior management is now trying to secure funding from other projects to ensure this project is complete.Here is a list of questions that are often overlooked! If you are unable to answer all of them, it might be time to hire an expert:
What other projects might be at risk if we under estimate the total budget allocation?
Is this project in alignment with our business goals?
Does the IT staff have the required time to complete this project?
Are other projects at risk if the project timeline slips or misses key milestones?
What additional costs will I incur if we don’t meet the project timeline?
Will my employees burn-out or be less productive? What does that cost the organization?
What features does the new software provide that my current software does not provide?
Can I upgrade my current software to gain the features that I need?
If you are thinking of changing backup software, comment to our experts below with the questions that are on your mind! If you've already changed backup softwares, comment with additional considerations that came up during your transfer.
With how quickly technology is moving, is your data still protected how the business requires? Do you need to invest additional budget to fix the problem, or is it time to look for another solution? What and how do you choose?
Often times companies are un-clear as the right path to help address these questions. There are several options available to companies today. Do you hire a new employee that has the skills to assist in evaluation? Do you leverage a service provider that has performed hundreds of the these types of projects? Do you take a risk on cloud based services? Each of these options are viable solutions, but what is right for you and your organization?
Recently, a regional hospital decided it was time to change backup applications. Below are some lessons they learned and some important questions that often times get over looked or never answered during the selection process. The opportunity costs to change a core component such as your backup software can come at a high price. It is important to understand what your growth rates are, not only from a data perspective, but also server counts. Over the last three years the hospitals server count had grown at a modest 20%. However, the amount of data stored for retention purposes had grown at 258%! Understand what data you have to backup and how long you have to retain that information. Most importantly understand how long you have to recover the data. When was the last time you performed a recovery test? An industry standard is for every 1 TB of primary storage added to the environment there is a 5x impact on how you store it for recovery.
Understand if you change backup software there could be hidden costs, such as additional servers, storage, tape and off-site costs. When was the last time you reviewed your retention scheme for your backup environment? Are they in alignment with business goals or governance requirements? Here is a list of questions that often times get over looked, if you can’t answer all of them, it might be time to hire an expert.
What is the business reason requiring me to change my backup software?