Monthly Archives

June 2021

Business Continuity

Managed IT Services: Tapping Into The Cost-Saving Value

By | managed It services

In an age where technology is often a core driver of business growth, effective and reliable IT performance is more vital than ever. A structured, planned approach to IT support can help keep your business operating at peak efficiency and optimal performance.

That’s where managed service providers are playing an increasingly critical role by providing the consistent management and optimal balance of resources businesses need to help drive productivity, protect data and assets, and maximize return on investment.

With your IT strategy and support services managed by an outside provider, you benefit from best-in-class expertise and technical capabilities along with an assortment of resource and cost optimization advantages that span across operational and business functions:  

 

1.IT planning and strategy

Today’s IT environments are complex and fast-moving. To meet ongoing efficiency and performance goals, you need an IT strategy that supports and aligns with your core business objectives. Intelligent IT planning starts with a comprehensive assessment of your IT infrastructure and operational environment to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses and help you better understand how to best leverage existing resources and technology. 

With years of experience across multiple technologies and domains, MSPs can leverage their business planning and technology procurement expertise to help you create a roadmap for performance improvement―providing a coordinated framework for managing changes to business priorities. 

Your MSP can help you transition to new technologies and platforms at the most favorable time, while extracting maximum value from your legacy investments. They will evaluate workflows and processes to identify potential areas of improvement and opportunities for cost savings.



Related: Managed IT Services vs. Traditional IT Support: What’s The Difference? 

 

2. Preventative maintenance

Ongoing monitoring of your network infrastructure and IT environment can help minimize downtime, reduce costs, and enhance performance. Rather than waiting for problems to emerge, you can proactively identify areas that are vulnerable and take action before they impact your business.

MSPs are ideally equipped to help ease the burden of day-to-day network management. By using advanced evaluation and reporting tools they can collect information and analyze the performance of your network and IT infrastructure. 

This insight allows you to chart performance over time and identify patterns and trends that could lead to disruption. It also enables better decision making around future investments and areas of improvement to help ensure your network and supporting technology is reliable, efficient, and secure.

 

3. Responsive support

A proactive approach to technology management requires ongoing collaboration and responsive support on behalf of your IT provider. One advantage of an MSP is their ability to access the latest analysis and reporting tools to track your performance and identify critical areas for improvement and investment.  

Recurring checks and ongoing follow up help make sure their recommendations are delivering the results you need and are aligned with your business goals. With responsive and reliable support from a partner you can trust, your in-house team can focus on growth and performance instead of stressing over routine management tasks.


4. Technology management  

Understanding what performance functionality your business needs is essential. One important advantage MSPs bring to the table is their knowledge and expertise around the latest technologies and operational best practices that can help boost performance, increase efficiency, and safeguard critical business assets.  

MSPs are well-versed in the need to create a strategic IT roadmap with an inherent focus on long-term growth and achieving maximum return on investments. These experts understand the complexities of technology integration and work closely with you to make sure your IT decisions align with your business priorities.

The best MPSs have well-established vendor relationships and have deep experience identifying, evaluating, and procuring the best technologies and products across a range of platforms and domains, including:  

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What You Get When Working With BACS IT Consulting Group 

 

Smarter, more intelligent IT  

One of the biggest advantages of working with an outsourced IT provider like BACS IT is the potential for operational efficiencies. With a fixed-cost support model, you benefit from predictable pricing and manageable costs, allowing you to better plan for larger IT investments. And with a proactive IT support strategy, you are better able to anticipate problems before they can disrupt your business.  

With knowledge and expertise needed to keep your infrastructure running at peak performance, your MSP can handle any number of routine or specialized tasks including remote monitoring, IT planning and strategy, and technology evaluation and procurement.  By delegating ongoing IT support tasks to a reliable partner, you can turn your attention to more pressing priorities with confidence that your IT operation will be running efficiently and securely.

Related: Hear About Companies Like Yours That Benefited from Managed IT Services

Enhanced security

We have deep experience in the latest security tools and best practices to safeguard your enterprise business and IT systems against today’s increasingly malicious security threats. Not only can MSPs provide monitoring services, but they have the deep expertise needed to help prevent attacks through a range of proactive measures. With customized backup and recovery and business continuity planning solutions, your service provider can help restore systems and get your operation back online in the event of a disaster―quickly replacing faulty equipment, eliminating  system vulnerabilities, and recovering systems and data with minimal disruption. 

Peace of mind 

Businesses often have little time to focus on the routine functions of infrastructure management, worrying about underlying issues such as dependability, patching and updates, and speed of network connections. By outsourcing IT support tasks to a trusted partner, you can focus more on more strategic priorities with greater peace of mind knowing that your IT operation is running smoothly and efficiently. 

Making IT a strategic priority

Changing business models are driving a shift in the role of IT―from leveraging technology and support of the business, to the higher, more strategic goal of driving business value. Your MSP can help make sure your investments and support strategy is aligned with your core business goals, providing strategic guidance that caters to your business needs. 

Following are some of the core performance and cost savings benefits of working with BACS IT:  

  1. Better insight for more informed investment decisions
  2. Better knowledge to address ongoing performance, security, and compliance issues
  3. Optimized ROI through better researched and well-timed technology updates
  4. More seamless integration of business systems, hardware, and processes
  5. Enhanced security through better identification of IT strengths and weaknesses   
  6. Optimized availability and reliability of resources and applications
  7. Better ability to meet business requirements for uptime, compliance and security
  8. More accurate decisions and actions based on an long track record of experience and success
  9. Increased operational efficiency and better optimization of internal resources  
  10. Increased security and reliability of IT operations

Choosing the right MSP

Determining where and how you might benefit from an MSP starts with a careful evaluation of your current in-house resources, business goals and growth plans. Does your in-house IT team struggle with time to focus on big-picture projects? Is your business looking to move some or all of your data to the cloud? Are your IT costs inconsistent and unpredictable? Does your business currently have a disaster contingency plan for your business? Do you plan to grow or expand your business in the future? Does your business store and manage sensitive data?

Not all providers are created equal and choosing the wrong one could prove costly. As your business needs evolve over time, more effort is needed to help ensure that business goals and priorities are carefully aligned with IT strategy. Selecting a service provider that can deliver the range of capabilities you need is critical.

You can count on BACS to:

  • Gain a deep understanding of your business, your people and your goals
  • Advise you on how to best optimize the value of your technology investments
  • Identify and outline every strategic and business advantage we can find
  • Be your trusted partner for IT strategy and technology decisions

Contact Us for a FREE Security Assessment

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Managed IT Services vs. Traditional IT Support: What’s The Difference?

By | IT Support, managed It services, Technology

Business technology has come far in just a few decades as many firms now enjoy operating in the cloud. While some companies still hold on to traditional tech support methods, modern enterprises are working closely with more modern Managed IT Services. Here’s a comparison of traditional and 21st century IT support.

 

 [Free  Resource Download]: 7 Tips  To  Create A Password  Policy  For  Your  Organization

 

Traditional Business Network Tech Support

Commercial organizations have embraced the internet as a backbone for connecting with other resources since the seventies. Retailers and suppliers were among the first commercial entities to connect online. Large firms typically hired their own in-house technology departments while small companies often turned to break-fix shops that often were fly-by-night operations seeking fast cash opportunities from widespread adoption of the computer revolution.

Another dimension of traditional tech support firms was the attempt to be all-things-tech without broad diverse knowledge of technology. Any type of computer or networking problem could potentially lead to massive amounts of downtime for hours or even days. Your business was at the mercy of technicians who might not have been familiar with your hardware or software, which took time to learn.

By the nineties it was very common for even small businesses to use computer networks. For maintenance they would often turn to help desks that weren’t interconnected with technicians in real-time like they are now. Consequently, response to technical issues was generally slow for coordination and troubleshooting. Then if the technicians made errors, it led to more costly downtime.

During the traditional IT era managers weren’t well informed about their business technology and simply trusted whatever tech support firm they found to fix bugs. Sometimes it led to long-term expensive contracts that contributed to a company’s financial collapse.

 

Related: The 10 Benefits of Managed IT Services for Businesses Like Yours

 

Today’s Managed IT Services

A Managed Service Provider (MSP), as defined by technology research giant Gartner, is a company that delivers various services and ongoing support to clients on their property, via the MSP’s data center or through a third part cloud provider. MSPs often pool their native services with outsourced resources to maximize serving client needs. High quality MSPs often offer the following IT services:

Cloud computing disrupted the traditional IT profession enormously. The rise of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) firms such as Salesforce scrambled the IT landscape into a brave new setting that empowered businesses of all sizes to streamline operations. In other words, migrating to the cloud (a private or public intranet) helped business cut all kinds of upfront technology costs.

The cloud allowed businesses to operate more efficiently and independently. MSPs began offering a wider menu of technology solutions that old fashioned break-fix firms simply couldn’t compete with. Traditional help support personnel typically weren’t encouraged by their bosses to keep learning new technology, whereas today’s MSPs need to be experts on cybersecurity and innovations that make businesses more efficient and scalable, such as automation, AI and smart devices.

On top of that, MSPs learned how to talk with business decision makers on a personalized level instead of using the old scheme of shutting down questions or blurring answers with complex and confusing jargon. The new attitude of MSPs is to learn each client’s needs and provide custom solutions.

BACS IT Difference for Businesses Like Yours

The one difference that BACS IT has over other MSPs is our customer service experience. While many traditional help desks have limited capabilities and can be considered less efficient, BACS IT, an experienced MSP, can elevate your business to a more competitive level, allowing you to be more productive and profitable. Schedule a call with us and learn how we can bring your business up to date with the newest advancements in IT. 

managed-it-services

10 Benefits of Managed IT Services for Your Business

By | IT Support, managed It services

Are you considering managed IT services for your business?

If yes, youre in a growing number of organizations. Managing technologies within an organization can be overwhelming to maintain. One approach to lessen the stress is to delegate all or a portion of these tasks to a third party outside the company that specializes in those tasks. An organization that provides IT services for other organizations is referred to as a managed service provider (MSP).

 

Related: MSP 101- What is a Managed Service Provider 

 

Businesses vary widely in their IT administration needs. For example, an organization may have a dedicated IT staff and only require assistance with routine tasks. Another organization may have a single individual that holds multiple jobs within the organization, one of those being responsible for IT tasks, and the organization wants to free up that individual to focus on other tasks. Firms that provide managed IT services offer a wide variety of services.

The following are just a few of the types of services that MSP firms offer:

If you are tasked with justifying the switch to managed services or want to learn more about the offerings, the following are 10 key benefits that should interest you:

1. Lower IT Costs

The services network firm Deloitte surveyed 40 of their clients, from all over the world who held various upper-level positions, and revealed in a report that cost was the primary objective for their outsourcing IT operations. This makes sense. Modifying any aspect of your business is going to require looking at the financial impact. The main costs associated with IT operations include equipment and operation costs, as well as personnel costs (salaries, benefits, and training). According to the Robert Half Salary Calculator, the average salary for a system administrator in Sacramento, California is $92, 340. Thats just one employee. While some organizations delegate a single individual to manage IT operations, the more prudent scenario is to employ several professional individuals with specific roles. When you calculate the salaries, you can easily reach an exceptionally large number. In comparison to hiring an MSP to handle some or all of your IT operations, the average monthly costs vary depending on the level of services provided and the size of your organization, but in the U.S. ranges from $100 to $250 per user/per month. For full managed services for an organization with fewer than 50 users, that works out to about $42,000 to $66,000/year. That amount is considerably less than the salary, benefits, and training you would pay a single employee to manage your IT services. 

2. Scalability

Change is a normal aspect of doing business. As your business goals change, your IT services will also need to change. Managed IT service firms allow you to determine the level of services they provide your organization. As your business goes through changes, you can modify those services. For example, if your organization is a startup operation with limited funds and resources, you may choose to start with a full-service option where all of your IT operations are managed by an MSP. When your business grows, you may want to minimize those services and start allocating resources to an in-house IT team that performs tasks that align with your business goals, and delegate only your routine support tasks to an MSP. 

3. Availability

It might seem strange that a firm outside of your organization would be able to boast availability as a benefit, but its true. The unfortunate reality of many in-house IT departments is there are more tasks than individuals to handle those tasks and the organization suffers because of that reality.  For example, when an employee encounters a problem with their computer that is preventing them from performing their work and your in-house IT staff is not available to render assistance right away, that ultimately impacts your organizations productivity. When you obtain the services of an MSP, one of the first steps is to create a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This is an agreement that outlines the details of the services the MSP will provide to your organization. Availability is an important component of an SLA. This type of agreement or expectation of availability typically does not exist within an in-house IT department. The usual process for an internal IT staff is to prioritize tasks and get to them as time allows.  

 [Free  Resource Download]: 7 Tips  To  Create A Password  Policy  For  Your  Organization

4. Reduced Downtime

Downtime is another aspect of doing business than can have a significant impact on your organization. One of the main methods organizations use to gauge the costs of downtime is the average provided by the research and advisory firm Gartner in 2014, which is $5600/minute. Of course, that average is just estimate. Your organization may vary considerably from that estimate. There are calculators available online that can help you more accurately determine the cost of downtime for your organization. The financial impact of downtime is important, but there are other ways that downtime can have a significant impact on your organization. If your network connection is down,  employees may not be able to perform their duties and your customers and potential customers may be unable to connect to you or your website. Your organizations brand may become tainted because of downtime. This is a potential consequence whether you have a well-established brand or are trying to establish one. Customers and potential customers may view a downtime incident as an indication of how you run your business. 

Managed IT service firms will, depending on the SLA, monitor your network and other systems from a remote location. Since they are focused on managing your operations, they are more able to quickly respond to potential problems and lessen downtime.

5. Constant Monitoring

Are your IT systems being monitored every hour of every day? If the answer is no, your organization may be an ideal prey for data criminals. Abnormal events such as changes to files and performance issues that occur in the late-night hours may be a sign of an intruder accessing your network. Logging is a common practice for detecting abnormal events. However, an issue discovered in a log may be too late to prevent a security issue. If your organization hasnt implemented 24/7 monitoring, you might overlook such critical events. Constant monitoring provides your organization with peace of mind. Constant monitoring tracks any changes or disruptions to the systems that can be investigated and, if necessary, resolved before they develop into data breaches. Constant monitoring enables your organization to take a proactive approach instead of one that is reactive.

6. Improved Security

If your organization has implemented monitoring tools and have reduced your system downtime, how confident are you that those systems are properly managed? If you dont have a lot of confidence, consider the consequences of such neglect. According to a report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach is $3.86 million. However, the costs of recovering from a security incident can be much higher with long-term effects. An example is the Equifax data breach of 2017. The consumer credit reporting agency used monitoring software, but its security certificate had expired, and the monitoring solution was subsequently rendered inactive. Equifax discovered the suspicious activity only after their security certificate was updated. Two years after the data breach, the company entered a settlement with consumers who were impacted by the incident. Equifax ended up paying nearly one billion dollars, not including legal fees.

The following are a few of the ways that a managed IT service company can improve your organizations security:

  • Assess your organization’s risk and implement security measures that mitigate those risks.
  • Remotely monitor your IT systems 24/7 for vulnerabilities and suspicious activity.
  • Ensure all compliance requirements are met and maintained.
  • Provide training for staff.
  • Inventory and track endpoint activity in the organization .


Related
: A Beginners Guide to Cybersecurity


7. Latest Technology

Its common knowledge that technology is constantly changing at a rapid pace. Managed IT service firms rely on advanced tools to provide the reduced downtime, 24/7 monitoring, and improved security benefits mentioned above. Many organizations are not able to justify the costs necessary to keep up with the pace of software to enjoy the benefits. 

8. Dedicated IT Team

As mentioned previously, the costs associated with hiring IT professionals can be excessive. Developing a team of IT experts that manage all IT operations in-house is not only a costly endeavor that can cripple an organization with limited resources, but one that can limit the value of the organization.  When a large percentage of the organizations resources are allocated to an in-house IT staff, that means that fewer resources are available for other activities such as growing the business.  

9. Higher Productivity

An IT department provides a variety of critical functions for an organization. All of these tasks are important, but some of them are routine and take time away from more critical tasks. Examples of routine tasks include hardware/software installation and configuration, endpoint maintenance (warranties, licenses, etc.) and troubleshooting. By allowing a managed IT services company to perform these tasks, your organizations IT staff can concentrate on tasks that help your organization reach its business goals.

10. Less Stress

The really great news about delegating your organizations IT services to an MSP is that you obtain a  combined effect of the benefits listed above in the form of a reduction of your organizations IT responsibilities. An overburdened IT staff can suffer burn out, make careless mistakes, neglect their duties, and  develop disdain for their job. All these effects can cause your IT operations to enter into a vulnerable state. Delegating just a few of your IT operations can have a positive impact on an existing It staff.

Next Steps with BACS IT Consulting Group

While there are numerous benefits associated with managed IT services, not all businesses that provide managed IT services are equal in the value they offer. Your organization should make sure the MSP that you choose is right for your organization. That means understanding the level of expertise, services offered, industry experience, and personability of the staff. Working with an MSP should be considered a partnership. Ensuring that the organization you work with has these skills will provide the best benefit for your business.

BACS offers expertise in a full spectrum of managed IT services and works with organizations to determine the best strategy to align with their business goals.

Contact Us for a FREE IT Assessment

wifi-security

Safeguarding Your Business from Wi-Fi Vulnerabilities

By | IT Support, Security

Businesses today must manage an ever-growing number of security risks. From client database breaches to malicious ransomware attacks, cybercriminals are continuously searching for new opportunities and methods of exploitation. One high-risk area that is often overlooked is your company’s Wi-Fi network.

While Wi-Fi offers the advantage of fast and easy access, this convenience is also its weakness. Unprotected Wi-Fi connections provide hackers with easy network access, allowing them to introduce malware onto any connected systems and devices. This malware can instigate a number of serious attacks, including phishing, DDoS, ransomware, and more.

 

Closing the gaps on Wi-Fi security

In the age of digital proliferation and broad network connectivity, creating a detailed, well-defined network security strategy is more critical than ever. It requires a holistic approach that effectively blends proven practices with cutting-edge techniques. Following are some common sources of Wi-Fi security vulnerabilities, along with some best practice strategies to address them.

 

Outdated firmware.

Keeping your business-critical data secure hinges on making sure your Wi-Fi network is operating with the latest firmware updates and patches. In some cases, your router will prompt you when an update is due. But for many IT teams, keeping firmware and drivers up to date can be a tedious, easy-to-overlook task. The best approach is to stay proactive. Periodically check the manufacturer’s website for any updates or patches for your device and keep this task high on your list of ongoing IT priorities. Today’s cybercriminals are persistent. Staying one step ahead requires ongoing diligence on your part.

 

A poorly protected print environment.

All devices connected to a business network, including copiers and printers, represent an area of risk that often falls outside the normal security responsibilities of an IT organization. Still researchers have identified print networks and printers as potential sources of security failures and data breaches. That’s why print security best practices should be given ample attention and action, including configuring appropriate IP addresses and status, and password-protecting connected printers, along with the entire print network.

Improperly managed user behavior.

A security system’s overall effectiveness hinges on correct user behavior within that system. Even robust systems can be compromised by an employee clicking on a phishing email, an ineffective firewall, or even accessing a network site on an unfamiliar device. Another area that demands business Wi-Fi attention is mobile device security. Inappropriate user behavior on a business network, including digital apps and email, can threaten a network’s security. Mobile device management focuses on both business-owned mobile device security protocols, and private or guest devices on a network.

 

Network piggybacking. 

Piggybacking on network access is a way of creating a wireless connection by discretely tapping into another subscriber’s wireless service without their knowledge or permission. This can be done from any wireless-enabled computer, and depending on the location of your business’s wireless access point, and can be completed from up to 1,000 feet away. Once on your network, the unwanted users can hack into sensitive information, monitor web traffic, or conduct other illegal activities.

 

Ineffective firewall.

A properly implemented firewall plays a vital role in helping to keep your company’s networks separated from the Wi-Fi. It helps prevent potential hackers from breaching the Wi-Fi connection and making unwanted entry into your servers and company networks. In addition to your network firewall, consider installing a host-based firewall, which provides an extra layer of protection between the network and connected devices.

 

Lack of data encryption

Encrypting the data on your wireless network helps prevent those who might gain unauthorized access from actually viewing it. Should hackers breach the Wi-Fi connection, any data they obtain is scrambled and unreadable. Several encryption protocols are available to help enable this protection. The strongest encryption currently available is Wi-Fi Protected Access 3 (WPA3). While WPA and WPA2 are also available, the best approach is to implement technology that specifically supports WPA3, since other protocols lack the robust protection today’s networks require.

 

Reaping the benefits of outside expertise

Whether you are upgrading your existing Wi-Fi network or starting from scratch, the best protection can be achieved through careful planning and expert execution. That’s where the knowledge and experience of a competent managed serviced provider can deliver substantial value.

By outsourcing your Wi-Fi security to an outside expert, you benefit from a more robust network design, clear policies and procedures, and better awareness of potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses. These outside experts can suggest tools and techniques for improving network speed and efficiency and recommend the latest best practices for securing your Wi-Fi network. These include:

 

Network monitoring.

Monitoring is the first line of defense against unstable or unforeseen events that affect your network performance and security. Real-time monitoring of Wi-Fi traffic through routers and network servers provides IT teams with vital insight into user behavior and trends, and helps speed response time in the event of a breach. Proactive monitoring of your business Wi-Fi network can help your thwart issues before they become a more serious problem. Remote monitoring capabilities are particularly critical for satellite offices.

 

Router protection.

Keeping your router out of public reach can help reduce the potential for tampering or someone attempting to circumvent security protocols. It only takes a few seconds to restore the access point to factory default settings. For optimum safety, keep the router high on a shelf, secured behind a door, or otherwise out of reach where a bad actor could potentially gain access without authorization. Router ports can also be secured by properly defining the IP address.  Be sure your router access point is housed in a secure area, such as a locked room or closet.

 

Maintain antivirus software.

Be sure to install the right antivirus software and keep your virus definitions up to date. Make sure your practices include automated patching to help enforce policies and keep systems and networks up to date and enforced with the latest software patching. Also, make backups of all your data and software on a storage device that is not attached to your network or computer. Confirm that all your backups are operating properly and test them on a regular basis to make sure they will perform when you need them.

 

Protect your SSID.

To help prevent hackers from gaining easy access to your network, avoid exposing your SSID. At the minimum, be sure to change your SSID to a unique identifier. Keeping the manufacturer’s default ID in place could open the door to an attacker skilled at identifying the type of router and possibly exploit any known weaknesses.

 

Employ a VPN.

Installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) as part of your Wi-Fi infrastructure can be a highly effective way to bolster your overall network security strategy. VPNs conceal user identities by masking IP addresses and routing data through a, alternate IP address.  By encrypting connections and sending and receiving points, VPNs help keep out improperly encrypted traffic. Cybercriminals who manage to access to data via your VPN will find it useless, since it is encrypted on its way from sender to a receiver.

 

Bolstering your IT strategy

With losses from cybercrime now reaching epic proportions (up to $6 trillion globally), Securing every aspect of your network is more crucial than ever before, and that includes making special considerations for your Wi-Fi security. Wi-Fi security is not only essential to sound IT strategy; it’s a smart business practice.