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IT Support

Data-Backup-and-Recovery-Reaping-the-Benefits-of-the-Cloud

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.

Security Protocols

Mitigating Potential Threats with Sound Security Protocols

By | Cloud, Data Protection, IT Support, managed It services, Networking, Security
Cloud Migration Free Resource

As cybersecurity becomes increasingly more complex, many organizations lack the resources or knowledge they need to create an effective security strategy. That’s why you need a trusted expert who not only understands the latest security trends but can accurately define your business requirements and implement a plan that aligns with your current and long term needs.  This is especially critical as companies move toward more hybrid cloud environments.  

 

One of the biggest advantages of the cloud―flexible data access―can also be a major weakness if security isn’t effectively factored into the equation. Safeguarding systems and assets against rising threats is crucial, but levels of protection should be carefully balanced against your unique business objectives.  

 

Technology plays a critical role, but equally important is the need to work with an experienced security expert capable of creating and maintaining effective security practices. Bad actors and cybercriminals s are continuously exploring new ways to penetrate your defenses, which underpins your need to develop and implement sound policies based on defined user preferences and your unique business needs.

 

Your managed service provider should be capable of implementing advanced security techniques and practices, including strong access controls, the latest malware protection, and proactive security scanning. You’ll want to make sure the provider you work with can adapt to change and growth and remains on the cutting edge of technology innovation.  

 

Your service provider’s security operations team should be able to clearly demonstrate the practices and processes it uses to safeguard vital business assets. To protect sensitive data, IT policy controls should be automatically enforced through technical elements, such as authorization, authentication, access controls, password complexity, alerting, and system monitoring. 

 

Your security provider should be clear about its procedures for keeping you informed about the ongoing performance and support issues. Your service provider should be able to clearly outline and define its response capabilities. What is the expertise level of support staff? What is the standard response time? What are your protocols for data access? 

 

Most managed security teams operate 24/7, with staff working in shifts to continually track and record activity and mitigate potential threats. Among the core operational protocols and security responsibilities include: 

 

 

Manage access. 

 

Strong application controls like encryption and authentication can help safeguard information across networks and on endpoint devices, helping to thwart attackers from transferring or copying critical business data. Your cloud provider should be able to provide documentation that shows a separation of duties for administrative functions, disclosing the level of access that each user has and how those levels are maintained. 

 

 

Define policies and procedures

 

Usage policies define what behaviors are and aren’t acceptable. You most likely have some protective measures in place to address internal threats. To help bolster this vital layer of defense, your security provider will work with you to define and implement policies and practices based on your usage preferences and requirements or mandates specific to your particular market.

 

Data protection. 

 

Data encryption is critical for organizations operating in a cloud environment, helping to make sure critical data remains protected while in use, at rest, or in transit. For even greater protection, consider full-disk encryption, which it encrypts the complete hard drive, safeguarding the data as well as the applications and operating system.  

 

Manage deleted data. 

 

Within a typical cloud environment, sensitive data can easily find its way into uncontrolled and hidden systems and services. When it’s time to delete confidential data, or remove resources storing sensitive data, it’s important to consider the potential spread or replication that often occurs during normal IT operations. Your service provider will analyze your cloud environment to determine where confidential data may have been cached or copied and decide the proper steps to help ensure successful deletion of the data.   

 

Preventative measures

 

To help potential threats, effective security protocols include preventative measures designed to keep team members up to date on the latest cybersecurity trends, recent advances in security techniques, and updates on new emerging threats. This knowledge can help shape your security roadmap and improve disaster recovery planning, helping to guide and prioritize your response in the event of a data breach. Preventative measures and protocols also include actions to mitigate potential, including regular updates to existing systems; modernizing firewall policies; identifying and correcting vulnerabilities.

 

Continuous monitoring

 

Security controls define the methods and protocols used by the operations team to monitor the network to identify anomalies or suspicious activity. Continuous network monitoring helps ensure your security team is immediately informed of potential or impending threats, putting them in the best position to prevent or mitigate impact. Continuous monitoring enables security teams to strike and optimum balance between proactive and reactive measures as any abnormality in activity is immediately detected.  

 

Effective recovery. 

 

In the event of a disaster, security protocols will be executed to recover systems and restore compromised or lost data. Actions may include wiping endpoint devices, reconfiguring and testing security systems, or implementing effective backups to circumvent the attack. Effective recovery execution will return your cloud infrastructure to its original state. Procedures and steps should also be in place to figure out what happened and how it happened. The security team will use event and log data to track the problem and identify the source.

 

Ensure compliance

 

Many cloud security processes are shaped by established protocols and best practices, but some are guided by compliance requirements. Your managed service provider is tasked with regularly auditing of enterprise systems to help ensure consistent regulatory compliance. Following regulatory protocols not only helps safeguard confidential data, it can also protect your organization from legal challenges and reputational damage resulting from a data breach.

 

A strategic approach to cloud security

As with any IT investment, migrating to the cloud comes with certain risks. Minimizing those risks and capitalizing on the full potential of cloud requires a strategic, pragmatic approach, evaluating essential infrastructure requirements, security protocols, risk factors, performance needs, and cost considerations.

it network assessment

Everything You Need To Know About Network Assessments

By | Cloud, IT Support, Networking, Security

Some businesses may think that once your network is set up you no longer need to invest any time or resources in it, but that is simply not the case. Your business’s network is constantly evolving and changing. Your network needs to be able to handle the growth of your business to ensure that there are no disruptions. One way to make sure your network goals and business goals align is by performing a network assessment

Unfortunately, assessing a network is often one task that is left at the bottom of any team’s to do list. This can create a number of problems that will send shockwaves throughout any organization. Any organization’s network can quickly become too complex and tangled to secure and manage if not properly managed. Companies that do not perform network planning and management miss out on optimization opportunities that could drive quality improvements and cut costs. 

Understanding the importance of a network assessment starts with a basic understanding of what a network assessment entails. 

Cloud Migration Free Resource

What Is A Network Assessment?

 

A network assessment is a comprehensive analysis of your organization’s entire IT infrastructure, management, security capabilities, and overall network performance. Network assessments are powerful tools that can be utilized to identify performance gaps, areas for improvement, and network functionality. The knowledge obtained during a network assessment can help executives make key decisions around IT infrastructure and strategy going forward. 

 

Often organizations will order network assessments when their IT systems become too big or too complex. There may be issues popping up that are difficult to pinpoint through standard IT analysis. At this point, it can be difficult for organizations to gain a full understanding of what is happening throughout their network. Companies should be performing network assessments often to ensure that their systems are never out of control. 

 

What Does A Network Assessment Include?

Every organization’s network is different, which means that every network assessment will also be unique. A majority of network assessments have a few commonalities that organizations can use to build their own network assessment strategy. 

 

Take A Physical Inventory

Any network assessment has to include accounting for all IT inventory that your organization has. If your organization has no idea how many servers and users have, then you will certainly have a difficult time understanding all of your IT infrastructure. Accounting for all of your physical assets can help your organization properly assess your network. For some organizations accounting for all IT assets could take weeks or even months. Identifying all of the physical IT assets can help teams identify which assets are being underutilized and what infrastructure needs are being neglected. 

 

Cybersecurity Evaluation

Another key part of any network assessment is identifying any vulnerabilities present in your IT systems. The cybersecurity assessment portion of a network assessment examines current security controls and how effective they are in reducing overall cybersecurity risk. This portion can identify any vulnerability in a network, such as an inefficient firewall or outdated software applications. 

 

A cybersecurity assessment does not just involve hardware and software; a proper network assessment will also look at how users interact with the network. Employees and customers are often the greatest risk in regards to cybersecurity. Understanding how big of a risk human error is in the context of a network can help an organization reduce that risk. 

 

Network Performance Evaluation

Assessing your network will also involve evaluating the overall performance of your network. A slow network can frustrate not only employees, but potential clients and customers using your network as well. Poor network performance can lead to lost revenue and missed opportunities. 

 

Network performance can suffer due to a number of causes, such as faulty software configurations or a high number of users. Identifying bottlenecks can help your organization resolve any network performance issues. A performance evaluation will help your organization identify the root causes of slow network functionality. 

 

Potential Network Assessment Benefits

Network assessments are not just for show; they provide a number of advantages to organizations who put the time and effort into performing them correctly. Companies who invest in network assessments will have an edge over competitors who neglect their networks. 

 

Patching Security Holes

A network assessment can help your organization find security vulnerabilities throughout your IT network. A network assessment that is properly done will uncover risks throughout a network. Typically, a network assessment will rank risks based on their threat level and likelihood of occuring. Decision makers can then take the appropriate measures to prevent the risks from turning into reality. Organizations can utilize the cybersecurity assessment to prevent catastrophic IT events, such as data hacks. A data leak can result in the loss of customer trust and hefty government fines. 

 

Identify Cost-Savings Opportunities

Another advantage that network assessments offer organizations is the chance to identify inefficiencies in IT infrastructure. A majority of organizations have networks that are ripe with inefficiencies. Even the simplest network assessment can identify low-hanging fruit that teams can easily work on. Executives can then capitalize on these opportunities and drive down costs and improve efficiencies. 

 

If your organization does not have the capabilities to properly conduct a network assessment, you may want to consider hiring some outside help. BACS has worked with various organizations to help them perform network assessments.  

 

BACS Helps Organizations Optimize Their Networks

The experienced team at BACS can help your organization perform a proper network assessment that will give you the big picture of your IT infrastructure. No matter how complex or simple your network is, BACS will ensure that you make the right IT infrastructure decisions going forward. From identifying security flaws to creating cost savings, network assessments can help drive your business grow. 

 

The BASC team is here to help you and answer any questions you may have regarding network assessments. Reach out to BACS today to learn more about network assessments and how a network assessment can help you drive business growth. We can develop a customized network assessment plan that meets your business needs. 

ent plan that meets your business needs.

Virtual Desktop Deployment

Benefits of Virtual Desktop Deployment

By | Business Continuity, Cloud, IT Support, Networking, Technology

Implementing virtualized desktops across your enterprise environment can provide users with a high-definition desktop experience while helping to improve security and reduce costs. While the potential benefits are compelling, implementing an effective virtual desktop environment requires more than installing and configuring software.

In planning your virtualized desktop deployment, it’s important to look beyond the potential cost savings and make decisions in the context of an actual business case. That means carefully considering your goals, computing needs, resources, and many other factors. 

While no single strategy can cover every possible need or scenario, a sound implementation plan should take into consideration potential risk factors and adhere to best practice methods and procedures for optimum performance and return on investment.

 

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Define business needs.

 Virtual desktop deployment projects can rapidly expand in scope and complexity. That’s why it’s important to be clear about why you want to move to desktop virtualization. Understanding which capabilities and which performance requirements are most critical will help ensure you choose the optimum mix of infrastructure for your unique business needs. If you’re starting with just a few applications, determining performance and infrastructure requirements is easier because you’re not transferring every desktop to the cloud, but rather just a few applications to certain end users. You can use this initial scoping exercise to begin capacity planning. What are your current processing and storage needs? How many users will you be extending desktop services to? What will your virtual environment look like in a year or two years? 

 

Create a server plan. 

Servers are at the core of your virtualized desktop infrastructure, so it’s vital that I/O, memory, and other resources are available to support the processing requirement of desktop users. This requires having a clear understanding of the capabilities and limitations of your existing server environment. What applications and workloads run on which servers? What level of performance and availability do these workloads require? One drawback with creating multiple virtual machines from a single piece of hardware is that if that hardware fails, the entire configuration can be compromised. One remedy is to distribute virtual desktops across several servers so that a failure in one server won’t shut down all users. A more advanced approach is to implement a server cluster for virtual desktops, which spreads workload processing across all servers and can transfer the load to other servers in event of a fault. 

 

 

Implement access controls.

Although virtual desktops can provide users with a more flexible experience, it’s critical to closely manage which users are allowed access to specific applications and data. The more connections linking to a single device, the greater the risk of data exposure or compromise. The challenge is creating policies that aren’t overly restrictive. Ideally you want users to be able to maintain control of their devices while making sure operational flexibility does not undermine existing security policies and controls. Also, be sure to sure you include virtual desktop servers and endpoint data storage in your overall backup and disaster recovery plan.

 

 

Check compatibility. 

Make sure the hardware you select is compatible with the software you intend to virtualize. Many virtualization packages will support a standard set of hardware regardless of where that software resides. This will help ensure you have a standard hardware design template for each virtual machine, helping to reduce the time and effort in managing different driver versions across your virtualized environment. Consider what components are needed for a successful scale-up. IT teams often overlook the components needed to scale up to a virtualized environment, including host hardware, storage, networks, and hypervisor.

Allocate sufficient resources.

Virtualization increases the hardware requirements for your environment. So in the process of scoping out your ideal virtual system configuration, it’s important to makes sure you have sufficient storage and processing power for your virtual machines and software. This means your host servers must first have enough resources to support your virtualization software of choice, plus the operating system and software used within the virtual machines. How many users do you anticipate using the service at the same time? Is your network infrastructure capable of supporting this new client-server communication load?  An inadequately powered virtual machine or server diminishes the benefits of desktop virtualization. 

 

Train users.

The shift to desktop virtualization will alter the way users manage their endpoint devices, so training is often an integral part of the deployment effort. The resource sharing capabilities that virtualization enables can presents a number of issues that will need to be addressed. Which users will have control? What new skills will be required?  Training doesn’t need to be extensive since the desktop user experience should not change substantially. However, users should be aware of changes to their access controls and rights concerning their desktop privileges.   

With the right virtual desktop deployment strategy, you’ll be able to reap several important benefits:

Better productivity. 

Virtualized components can be configured and implemented quickly, reducing the time and complexity involved with provisioning new servers, storage or other resources. Fewer physical components also reduces the time and expense needed for ongoing management and support. 

 

 

Lower costs. 

The ability to create virtual versions of computers allows you to significantly reduce hardware costs. Less hardware to install reduces space requirements along with power and cooling expenses, allowing you to reinvest this savings into more strategic initiatives.    

 

Enhanced data protection. 

Virtualization helps simplify data protection processes. With consistent and automated data backups, meeting your recovery time objectives becomes a more reliable process.

 

 

Improved scalability. 

A core benefit of a virtualized environment is the ability to quickly configure the infrastructure to meet shifting business requirements. Virtual desktop machines can be rapidly reconfigured to enhance their “hardware” performance capabilities ‘on-the-fly”.

 

 

Better disaster recovery. 

Automated failover capabilities inherent in most virtualization platforms helps improve recovery so that if a disaster hits, your infrastructure is already preconfigured with the proper backup and recovery steps to ensure systems are brought back online quickly and securely. 

Charting a path to success

Making the right decisions about how to best leverage virtualized infrastructure can be confusing. It often involves tradeoffs with significant strategic impact. Your best bet: Don’t go it alone. Work with an experienced virtualized expert whose core focus is improving your technology and optimizing your return on investment. Implementing an effective, smooth-running virtualized desktop environment can be challenging and time-intensive, but when done correctly, the effort will pay dividends far beyond the initial investment.  

Engineering IT Solutions

Four Costly Misconceptions Many Construction and Engineering Firms Have About IT

By | IT Support, managed It services

Have you started to doubt the value of your IT service provider? Misconceptions about this complex field can arise from a lack of shared knowledge when observations do not present a full picture. If you wonder about your company’s need for information technology (IT) services, your experience as a toughminded decision-maker may contribute to your evaluation. Your depth of knowledge and experience in contracting or engineering may obscure your awareness of IT’s detailed requirements, and misconceptions can form. Some of them may cost more than you imagine.

Misconception #1

My computer network does not need monthly monitoring and maintenance; I only want to pay for repairs or support on an “as-needed” basis.

An erroneous understanding of technical issues creates preconceptions that can make you devalue your IT, and it frequently happens among smaller construction and engineering companies. With the complexity and dynamism of computer technology, the demand for technicians who understand the relationships between software, data, firewall applications, and the total system becomes increasingly important. Computer systems need regular updates and routine maintenance to deter cybercrime invasions and prevent attacks by viruses and hackers.

Here’s a checklist of the necessary IT tasks you can use as a guide to ensure your IT system’s consistent operation.

Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Updating Processes:

  • Check Bentley and Autodesk license managers for critical updates, conflicts, functionality, and potential issues.
  • Check Bentley and AutoCAD for updates and schedule updates with clients.
  • Update all Sage CRE, Viewpoint, Deltek, and other accounting applications.
  • Install security patches and updates as a critical factor in maintaining your system and detecting daily cyberattacks.
  • Update and monitor anti-virus software.
  • Update and monitor firewall applications.

Backup Processes:

  • Check backups daily to ensure that occurrences appear every hour.
  • Manage and monitor all computer networks and connected devices to safeguard against cybercrime, data loss, and sluggish system performance.
  • Monitor and maintain email file size to prevent difficulty with transmitting large files.

Maintenance Functions:

  • Install and update spam filter software.
  • Detect and remove spyware.
  • Conduct monitoring of workstations and server disk space.
  • Monitor hardware to detect any potential for failure.
  • Optimize systems to ensure maximum speed.

Recommended Action

You can expect a reliable IT support company to provide a regular schedule to update, backup, and maintain your system. You have a justifiable reason to replace a service that fails to perform these essential functions that protect your system. Regular service and efficient monitoring prevent the loss of valuable files and protect your system from malicious intrusion by hackers who intend to inflict damage.

 

Misconception #2

My nephew’s/neighbor’s kid/brother-in-law/office manager knows this IT stuff and can care for our computers.

Your ability to save money may account for at least some of your business success, and many other business owners share it. However, a decision to economize by eliminating a highly skilled position may produce counterproductive outcomes. The tasks of conducting maintenance, virus prevention, and updating computer systems demand an experienced professional’s full-time attention. Issues that may occur intermittently require time to observe; reliance on knowledge can help an IT technician identify and correct problems. When you remember that your experience helped you resolve difficult issues, you can understand the importance of relying on a qualified professional.

While interim part-timers may not know how to fix problems, you may find that they can create issues easily. Your IT network and the data that it contains may support the core of your business. Access to it by an inexperienced person can cause almost irreparable damage. The cost of restoring lost files or reversing the effect of mistakes can far exceed the price of a professional IT service.

Recommended Action

Stay with a qualified professional.

 

Misconception #3

All IT support companies offer the same service. You can find your best option with the one that offers the lowest price.

Generalizations can perpetuate preconceptions and help enforce false impressions. While assumptions may make you think that a product has low value because of a low price, the truth may lie elsewhere. In a high demand field, IT support technicians can demand competitive wages just as other professions require. Some may set lower prices to get started in the business, but a low rate may indicate a lack of experience. When you place a minimum of five years in business as a criterion for hiring an IT support company, you can expect a high-quality performance. You may find a closer alignment for your firm’s requirements by searching for a company with previous contracting or engineering firms’ experience.

Some IT service providers may offer a low price, but the quality of work may suffer. Outsourcing to overseas companies can allow access to your firm’s data, email, and personal files, providing a potential risk that can require your time, effort, and resources to resolve. Others may offer temporary jobs to college students or new technicians who accept opportunities to learn the work for low wages. The outcomes of these practices can produce consequences that you may not realize for weeks or months.

An unqualified technician’s improper diagnosis can allow work to proceed on a problem that does not exist. Television reporters have tested computer repair shops’ ability to find and fix a disconnected cable, and many failed. While not producing the same dire effects as a failure to note defects in your computer system, the possibility of an unknowledgeable worker accessing your company’s information deserves some consideration. No low price can compensate for damage to your accounting records, bank accounts, browsing history, client data, or your proprietary business concepts.

When you find a company that seems to fit your criteria, you can fine-tune your selection by interviewing its marketing representative. The best IT service providers spend time asking questions to understand how their services match your requirements. Just like your clients check your reputation with others who hired you for contracting or engineering services, any company that deserves your business can provide many satisfied customers’ references to check if you choose.

Recommended Action

Look for experience and knowledgeable questions as qualifications for your IT service provider.

 

Misconception #4

An honest IT support company can provide a telephone quote.

While the apparent convenience of getting a price estimate over the phone may appeal, your experience in the business world advises against it. Professional technicians need to inspect your system before they can tell you a price for their services, and you do yourself a favor by not asking for a guess. Some unscrupulous IT service providers offer a low price on the phone to get a contract with you, but the price may change with unexpected add-ons that add hours to the bill. Firms that you can trust do not use hourly billing. A flat-rate and a fixed fee quote before work begins can ensure you of reliable service.

Recommended Action

Invite an IT service provider to an interview at your site to review your requirements and provide a written quote for services.

Every misconception has at least a grain of truth in it, and each can provide a heads up to take note of vital issues. While they may mislead you on the importance of choosing a professional IT service provider with reliable references and competitive pay requirements, they serve a valuable purpose. By refuting them and getting to the facts, you gain knowledge that benefits your company.

 

it service provider

How to Solve the Top 4 Complaints Engineering, Architectural, and Construction Companies Have with IT

By | IT Support, managed It services

While you may be convinced that information technology (IT) makes work life easier for professionals who work in the building industry, you and your colleagues have some complaints about how IT is executed within your field. You want to continue replacing manual processes and tools with digital ones that support higher levels of productivity.

However, your work’s precise nature and the tight deadlines you live under leave no room for inadequate IT solutions. In most cases, finding the right IT solutions for your firm is as easy as choosing the right service provider.

Here are the top four IT challenges that slow the progress of digital transformations in the fields of architecture, engineering, and construction. We also give you some tips for securing the right IT service provider to resolve these issues efficiently.

 

  1. Ineffective Data Back-Up and Recovery

You’ve worked for weeks on schematics for a client’s new apartment building that’s scheduled to open in one of your city’s most upscale neighborhoods. The project means lots of money for your client and plenty of prestige for your community. It also means that you and your team are under tight deadlines to get the engineering documents finalized and off to the construction team. Then it happens. One of the critical CAD files that was under review by your team was accidentally deleted.

You wisely anticipated this kind of mishap and have a data backup and recovery plan in place for your firm. However, you’re unsure if your IT service provider can recover the most recent version of the file. If the IT company can’t restore that version of the file, your team will be spending a lot of time redoing work and doing quality checks on the new diagrams.it services complaints

The answer to this dilemma is in your service agreement. Check to see if your agreement supports file-based backups that allow the IT company to back up your data frequently. When in the market for a new IT service provider, only employ one that does hourly backups.

Be wary of companies that only offer incremental, hourly backups. While incremental, hourly backups are better than no hourly backups at all, they give users a false sense of security that their data can be completely and quickly restored at any time. File recovery from incremental backups requires administrators to piece together data from different sources of backed-up files. Missed data is common.

Ideally, you want a service agreement that supports full backups of files on an hourly basis. These types of data backup plans normally require larger storage spaces and higher bandwidths. Look for a well-known IT service provider with the capacity to offer this level of service.

 

  1. Email File-Sharing Limitations

Collaboration among team members on design-build projects can become quite intense. You create floor plans for multi-story buildings and want to get immediate feedback about them from your team. Your first move is to open up your email program, compose a note to multiple recipients, and attach your files. You hit send. After moving on to a dozen more critical action items, you check your inbox for your colleagues’ anticipated responses. Instead of getting marked-up files from your design team, you’re greeted with an ambiguous bounce message.

The message tells you that the email you sent either exceeded the system’s size limit or the recipient’s mailbox is full. For many email providers, the standard size limit for messages is 10MB. However, some internet service providers (ISPs) that offer mailboxes limit incoming mail messages to 5MB. This issue is hard to manage because you have no control over the amount of space left in a recipient’s mailbox, and you don’t know for sure the size cap for incoming messages that his or her service provider sets.

To avoid bounce messages and dreaded email program freezes, you’ll want to talk to your service provider about getting higher limits for the amount and size of emails you can send through your company’s account. You may need an upgrade.

Even if they have the highest limits that ISPs offer, some people still exceed their mailbox spaces. If you’re working with an internal team, it’s a good idea to set policies in place to archive old emails periodically and remove them so that they don’t impact mailbox space.

Experts offer best practices for emailing large CAD files that work well whether your recipients have generous email size limits or not. They recommend placing your files in a folder, compressing the folder into a zip file, and attaching the zip file to your message.

If your files aren’t particularly sensitive, you can always encrypt the documents and upload them to a cloud storage platform. You’ll then be able to email multiple recipients a link to the documents, which drastically cuts the size of the sent email.

 

  1. License Error Messages

Engineering software tools that are produced by Bentley Systems are the gold standard in the building industry. While nearly every architecture, engineering, and construction firm is familiar with Bentley tools and uses them regularly, users’ concerns about unexpected license fees go mostly unaddressed.

Consider this scenario. A small architectural firm has agreed to buy four licenses for Bentley’s Microstation software. As engineers check out the licenses one by one, the decremented amount of licenses shows up on a management platform that Bentley offers its clients. However, Microstation programs are still available to other company users who access them by signing up for a trial. At the end of the billing cycle, Bentley Systems charges the architectural firm extra licensing fees for using more licenses than the initial.

Several engineering firms have requested that Bentley Systems cap their license usage so that access to programs is blocked for members of their companies whether these programs are associated with trial subscriptions or not. Bentley hasn’t yet come up with a satisfactory solution to stop the surprise bills. The problem is so pervasive that new competitors such as Autodesk highlight Bentley’s billing flaw to boost their marketing campaigns.

Suppose you have no plans of migrating to new engineering tools any time soon. In that case, you’ll want to invest in a 3rd-party asset management platform to help you and your team manage Bentley software licenses, track license usage, and stop these billing errors.

 

  1. Poor Customer Service From Outsourced IT

While every IT company claims to have exceptional customer service, the reality is that not all of them live up to their marketing claims. You’ll find data backup and recovery experts who can’t give you access to a backed-up file that was mysteriously corrupted. If the company can retrieve your file, it will make sure that you know that it’ll take a week for its representatives to get the file and send it to you. You’re upset because all that you can remember about your agreement with this company is that it promised that its services would result in minimal downtown to your firm’s operations.

When working with IT service providers, the solution is to document the service needs of your organization, find a company that can fulfill those requirements, and get their performance claims in writing. If a company claims that it can quickly retrieve and restore your backed-up CAD files, get it to quantify a time frame for this task, such as within 24 hours. Before selecting an IT service provider, you’ll want to check out its marketplace reputation. If it has been unresponsive or incompetent with previous customers, it’s unlikely that it will change its operating style for your company.

Continuing to modernize your architectural, engineering, or construction firm with powerful IT products and services offers many benefits. Some of them include improved collaboration and better construction site safety. In fact, you can’t remain competitive without the help of IT. Partnering with a highly-responsive IT service provider with the same values as your company is a great way to solve these top four IT issues and keep your firm moving forward.

 

Everything To Know About Managed Service Providers

MSP 101 – Managed Service Provider

By | IT Support, managed It services

Managed service providers are becoming more and more popular. Replacing or supplementing traditional IT teams with an MSP can improve the quality of a company’s IT infrastructure. Companies all over the world are taking advantage of all the benefits that come with working with an MSP.

Still, the concept of a managed service provider may be confusing to interested parties and could keep them from utilizing an MSP. Understanding the basics of what an MSP is will help businesses stay ahead of the curve.

 

What Is An MSP?

In order to better understand managed service providers, a bit of history of how they evolved could be useful. Managed service providers have a history dating back to the 1990s. During the early 90s, many IT companies only provided repair services to various technology pieces. That began to change as the 90s evolved and the industry rapidly evolved.

Internet speed was rapidly improving throughout the 90s until it reached a point where software applications could be deployed from a central location. This enabled the development of software that could manage and control a computer from a remote location. Innovative software solutions could be developed and deployed to a number of customers all at once.

The early 2000s marked the beginning of the managed service provider industry. IT consultancies began to create companies filled with computer engineers that could create comprehensive IT frameworks for other companies. By the 2010s this process had become much more robust to the point where an MSP could manage nearly all of another company’s IT software, strategy, and infrastructure. The rise of the cloud has only accelerated this trend.

MSPs have recently exploded in popularity with the rise of cloud services. The cloud allows services and software to run through the internet, instead of on your local computer network. This enables your business to access software, applications, and data anywhere in the world. The cloud has opened the door to various improvements in company productivity, but there are some potential drawbacks.

Managing this complex cloud environment can be extremely challenging. This is one of the key reasons why companies have turned to managed service providers. MSPs can manage the entire IT infrastructure of a company, including the cloud infrastructure. Many companies use an MSP to help take their company into the cloud environment. Managed service providers can also keep software applications up to date, database maintenance and setup, data analytics, cybersecurity, and more. Even with all of these services, some businesses are still hesitant to utilize a managed service provider.

If you could bring all of your IT infrastructure in house, why would you want to pay someone else to do it? Trusting and relying on another company to manage your IT infrastructure and data can be a scary proposition. Many companies want to do everything themselves, but the benefits of MSPs vastly outweigh the risks.

 

Why Do You Need An MSP?

Managed service providers create a ton of value for companies that they work with. If you have not switched to an MSP then you are likely falling behind your competitors. Here are a few reasons why you need a managed service provider.

 

Take Stress Out Of Your Life

Your expertise is likely not in the area of IT. A managed service provider will make your life much easier. Your business can call your MSP anytime to repair any issue that is affecting your business’s IT infrastructure. Your website and IT infrastructure will have significantly less downtime, so your employees will not have to wait around while repairs are made. Instead of worrying about managing an IT department, you can focus on the bigger picture. Your team will have extra time to focus on projects and keep your customers happy.

 

Cost Savings & Scalability

Many businesses believe that hiring an MSP may be out of their budget, but that is not the case. Managed service providers reduce the costs that businesses are responsible for. Companies will no longer have to worry about paying expensive IT employees or investing in IT infrastructure. MSPs will handle all of those costly endeavors. Additionally, as your business grows you will need to add additional IT infrastructure. A managed service provider can help you scale your business easily. Your business can easily increase server space and install additional applications to improve productivity.

Use Their Experts

Managed service providers are full of IT experts that can improve your IT infrastructure. Your team can use an MSP expert to work on a project that will improve your processes and productivity. Instead of having to hire an expensive consultant, you can work with your MSP to finish the project. This is extremely beneficial from an HR perspective as well. Your HR team does not have to manage additional employees and worry about key team members leaving the company. Your team can simply rely on your MSP experts to help out on any projects.

 

How BACS Can Help

Whether your company has 10 employees or 1,000 employees, BACS can create a customized solution that will meet your unique needs. Your business can take advantage of all the benefits that working with us comes with. From cost savings to less stress, your business will be able to focus on the core competencies that drive revenue.

 

BACS can answer any questions you may have about managed service providers and how we can benefit your organization. Reach out to BACS today to learn more about our services and offerings. Our team can develop a comprehensive, customized plan that will make your life easier and help your business grow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

virtualization - it consulting - cloud support

Gaining an Edge with Effective Virtualization Management  

By | Cloud, IT Support

Virtualization offers businesses a supremely agile infrastructure framework that allows services and applications to be deployed quickly and efficiently for greater competitive advantage. Not surprisingly, virtualization continues to grow in popularity due to its ease of scalability and its ability to reduce the need for dedicated infrastructure.

 

As businesses move toward more on-demand services, many are recognizing ―and capitalizing―on the benefits of virtualized infrastructure. Built-in abstraction capabilities inherent with virtualization allow you to manage servers, storage and other computing resources in pools no matter where they are physically located. The result: lower operating costs, increased application flexibility, and better resource optimization.

 

Although organizations can gain quick value by upgrading a single component or area of infrastructure, more substantial benefits can be gained by implementing a more comprehensive approach across an array of applications, devices and systems.  But like any technology deployment, the convenience enabled by virtualization doesn’t negate the need to effectively manage the underlying infrastructure.

 

While many businesses are leveraging the advantages of virtualization, some are not fully capitalizing on its potential. One challenge is the accelerated rate of technology advancements. An additional obstacle is a lack of planning and along with poor management practices.   

 

Businesses often launch virtualization projects in a disorganized, haphazard fashion. Over time, virtual servers begin to propagate throughout the infrastructure while IT struggles to manage two distinct environments―the virtual and the physical.  

 

Effective Planning

Every virtualization project has its own set of advantages and limitations. While resource optimization is important, transitioning to virtualized infrastructure is about choosing what is best for the enterprise―not entirely about reducing costs. Creating a purpose-focused strategy should be a chief priority. 

You can implement the optimum plan for your present needs, but your results will fall short of expectations if you don’t integrate flexibility and agility into your approach. Virtualized and cloud environments are evolving rapidly, therefore, it’s important to design and build virtual environments that can scale and adapt  to meet changing priorities and evolving business needs.   

 

At the core of an effective virtualization plan is gaining a clear understanding of the requirements and capabilities of your existing infrastructure. This requires evaluating your workloads and applications, where hardware and software components are installed, the amount of resources they require, and their role and function in supporting your business objectives. 

 

Inventory Tracking

Gaining clear insight into your current infrastructure and how it’s configured and used will provide a framework for determining the optimum approach forward. One you’ve transitioned to a virtual environment, you’ll also want to conduct a thorough inventory your virtual infrastructure, as well as a running inventory, which requires updating and recording changes in every instance. It’s difficult to effectively monitor performance and execute troubleshooting without a clear inventory of the infrastructure you currently have in place.  

 

Technology planning should take into account the present, along with the future, so it’s important to build hybrid scenarios into your virtualized deployments. Your virtualized infrastructure should be able to scale up and down as necessary, reduce administrative costs, and eliminate vendor lock-in.  

 

In planning your virtualized approach, it’s important to look beyond the potential cost savings and make decisions in the context of an actual business case. That means carefully considering your goals, computing needs, resources, and many other factors. It’s complicated, and often involves trade-offs with significant strategic impact.  

 

Management Tools

While virtualization can help boost business performance, navigating and implementing the right management approach isn’t always easy. Virtualization adds complexity at multiple points in your IT infrastructure, which can complicate troubleshooting compared to physical environments.

Consolidating resources and applications across a virtualized environment requires the migration and movement of workloads. This is where automated software tools can play a vital role, helping to balance capacity demands, avoid bottlenecks, and optimize performance.  In addition to easing the burden of your IT staff by eliminating a multitude of manual tasks, virtualization management software helps simplify a number of processes such as conducting inventory checks and analyzing virtual server correlations. 

 

Customizable, interactive dashboards display performance metric and reveal how virtual machines are mapped to their associated storage, host, and related components, which allows you to quickly identify and resolve any underlying cause of performance issues. You can also review and track storage performance, including parameters related to hardware condition, historical operating data, and configuration updates.

 

The right virtualization management tool can help simplify resource administration, enhance data analyses, and optimize capacity. Capacity planning entails looking at the baseline performance and needs of your system to determine where you might experience spikes in need, and where you might need more (or fewer) virtual servers or VMs. 

 

With effective capacity planning and testing, you can shore up your system against bottlenecks and other performance problems. When issues occur, you will be equipped to troubleshoot the problem and identify the root cause.  

 

Each management tool is different, but most will allow you to effectively monitor virtual infrastructure, compile reports, assign resources, and automatically enforce rules. Some systems are even compatible across different software and hardware brands—allowing you to select the management tool that is best suited for your environment.

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Security safeguards

Data protection and security are chief considerations in virtualized deployments, particularly in regulated environments. Safeguarding systems and processes needs to be carefully balanced against long-term business goals and objectives.  

Leveraging virtualization’s full potential requires a careful, balanced approach, taking into consideration cost savings advantages, performance requirements, and potential risk factors. Although virtual machines can offer users a practical, more convenient experience, it’s critical to carefully control user access to applications and data. 

 

The more access points and connections there are to a single device, the greater the potential for data to be compromised, lost or stolen. The challenge is creating policies that provide an optimum balance between flexibility and security. Ultimately you want to provide users with a certain level of infrastructure control while making sure virtualized benefits do not compromise defined security controls.

 

Although virtualization can help improve and strengthen data protection efforts, an IT security disaster can hit at any time. That’s why it’s critical to have a disaster recovery plan in place to help make sure your business can continue to operate, meet compliance mandates, and minimize business disruption and downtime.  

One advantage of virtualization is its ability to help streamline data backup and recovery. For optimum results, consider working with an expert consultant who can help you develop a disaster recovery and business continuity strategy that protects assets and defends against ongoing threats. The consultant will assess your security needs and determine an optimum balance of storing your most sensitive data on more secure infrastructure, providing an extra layer of protection.

 

 

Building a Solid Virtualization Framework

Virtualization offers substantial business advantages. By abstracting and encapsulating applications from physical hardware, you create virtual machines that are simpler to manage, easier to move and scale, and can be quickly implemented on physical hardware. Nevertheless, with virtualized technology, you still have a new set of infrastructure management challenges, including hardware configuration and server proliferation.

 

Making the right decisions about how to best leverage virtualized infrastructure can be confusing. It often involves tradeoffs with significant strategic impact. Your best bet: Don’t go it alone. Work with an experienced virtualization expert whose core focus is on improving your technology and optimizing your return on investment. By outsourcing ongoing support tasks to a trusted partner, you can focus on more strategic activities with greater peace of mind knowing that your virtualized systems and processes are running smoothly and efficiently.