Get Busy Setting Your Business Up for Success
This week we talk about how you can get busy using technology to improve your business.
Regularly, when a business is searching for ways to move their operations forward, there is a little hand wringing on how to do so. Every decision your business has to make comes with a price tag, and the more that you can do without spending a lot of money, the more value you are going to see. For this week’s blog, we thought we’d take a look at some actions you can take with your technology to ensure that your business is going in the right direction.
Procurement and Deployment
When you are looking to upgrade your business’ technology, cost is likely the most important variable. This leads to a tendency to prioritize smaller investments that don’t necessarily cost your business a lot of money. Unfortunately, any value-creating piece of hardware or software is going to take a substantial investment for your business. Fortunately, there are options out there that give decision makers options on how these investments are made.
Traditionally, if your business needed a new server, your company would price out how much they would have to pay to buy the hardware, migrate all the data and applications from the old hardware to the new hardware, and whatever associated costs that come with the setup and management of a new server. If the server was brought in to add more computing to your existing infrastructure, the setup and integration of the new server would come with its own associated costs.
Today, you can add to your business’ computing infrastructure faster and with powerful technology through the integration of cloud computing. The costs associated with cloud infrastructure are comparable to the ones that you would pay over time with a hardware lease, but with it you get integrated management and maintenance of that infrastructure. Since the only real drawback is that you need an Internet connection to access those cloud-based resources it is an excellent option for companies looking to quickly add powerful new IT solutions to their current infrastructure.
One of the most difficult parts of managing a robust computing infrastructure is keeping it secure. In fact, a lot of the axillary costs associated with maintaining large IT systems are tied up in security. Of course, you can decide what level of security investment is right for your situation, but you have to take into account that the less you invest in keeping your business’ IT secure, the more likely you will deal with security breaches; a potentially devastating thing for your business.
At Point North Networks, we provide comprehensive network and infrastructure security solutions designed to keep the near never-ending myriad of threats off of your business’ IT. We also can help you create policies and procedures that work to keep your staff trained and in-the-know about all types of potential security problems. Our technicians work with Metro Area businesses every day, and in the course of doing business see a lot of situations that provide us with real world experience in dealing with potential threats. Not only can we outfit your business with the technology you need to help mitigate ongoing threats, we also have the ability to customize a security plan specifically for your business needs, even when it includes comprehensive training.
If you talk to any technology professional that works with businesses, they will tell you that if you can manage to integrate automated tools, you will be improving your business’ efficiency. One of the most important considerations any business owner or decision maker has to make in today’s business environment is how to streamline operations and get their revenue-generating staff to do just that. A lot of businesses have their best people working in support roles over 25 percent of the time, no doubt cutting down on the organization’s effectiveness.
In using innovative software platforms to help your business cut out huge wastes of time and prioritize productivity, you get more out of your business. Today, you can get all types of powerful applications for human resources, security, business operations, marketing, sales, collaboration, communications, operational support, and more. Aside from improved access, there are other benefits that utilize state-of-the-art tools like artificial intelligence that can automate more processes, further improving efficiency.
Regardless of how you want to approach it, getting more from your technology is important if you want to increase productivity, improve employee satisfaction and retention, and other variables important to building a more productive and efficient business. If you would like to have a conversation about how to use technology to help you build a better business give us a call at 651-234-0895 today.
The Pitfalls of Cloud Computing and How to Overcome Them
Businesses use cloud resources all the time; and, they use them for many different reasons. Some use them because they have to support a remote workforce, some use them so they don’t have to come up with large swaths of capital or don’t want to pay interest rates for financing their central hardware. Some only use them sparingly to fill in the gaps created by product and service demand.
Whatever your business uses the cloud for, there are some major problems that can arise if you don’t actively manage your cloud accounts. Let’s take a look at three major issues small businesses can run into when over-relying on cloud services:
Consider that an individual can forget that they have signed up for a streaming service or another Internet-based service. This is exactly the problem with cloud services for business. Workers or departments can sign up for services through the business, and then never use those services again, but since most cloud services auto-renew every month “for convenience”, companies can be paying substantial money for services they don’t even use.
Beyond that, most cloud service providers market their services to small business owners and decision makers as being cost effective, but the more that a business depends on cloud services, the more they will pay for those services. Sure, they have the flexibility to scale up and back as needed, but if services that aren’t being used continue to be paid for, it can be plenty expensive.
Another consideration for businesses that forgo the software-as-a-service model to host their own infrastructure in the cloud can have difficulty predicting the costs of their hosted computing resources. Since most businesses need to set a baseline of cost for any and all of their technology, it could conceivably become problematic if the processing costs supersede the budgeted amount. There are ways to keep cloud computing costs under control, of course, but they can be difficult to manage for small businesses that may not have the IT coverage some larger companies do.
Lack of Security
From day one, the biggest bugaboo surrounding cloud computing has been the security costs, with good reason. The biggest problem is that, when using cloud computing, companies cannot see the location where their data is being stored and processed, and with no control over the physical infrastructure hosting the resources, they have to have faith in the provider to do the right things to protect data and infrastructure. In fact, it can be a very important consideration when storing what could be potentially sensitive information in the cloud.
All the threats that a business faces from the Internet are still relevant for cloud providers. Things like data breaches, compromised authentication, hacked interfaces, account hijacking, and other security problems don’t go away because your business uses the cloud. It makes trusting a third party business to protect your data a little more difficult. Some tips that will help include:
- Ensure the security of your cloud provider – You will want to choose cloud platforms that have identity management, authentication and access control tools integrated to give you the best shot at protecting your data.
- Check their privacy and security controls – Before choosing a provider you will want to check which database privacy and security laws they adhere to. There is a growing list of new laws on the books. The organizations that adhere to those regulations will be more reliably secure than ones that don’t.
- Ensure they help you stay compliant – This goes without saying, but if your business has regulations that you have to maintain compliance with, you will want to choose a cloud provider that will make that possible.
- Set up cloud management – Today there are several business intelligence tools that can help you monitor the effectiveness of your hosted solutions. This will not only help you maintain security, it will also provide you with insights on how the solutions are working for your business.
One issue that you don’t always hear about, but is an important consideration is how the cloud platform actually performs for your business. Of course, downtime is always going to be a consideration for platforms that require an Internet connection to work. That obviously isn’t going to be an issue if you’ve already decided to use cloud-hosted solutions. What is a consideration, however, is that if your business is using the cloud to gain access to tools that you likely couldn’t afford otherwise, will the cloud-based services have the reliability that is advertised?
A couple of the major cloud providers have had major outages the past couple of years, and this could actually negatively affect the continuity of your business. You will want to make sure that if there is an issue that the provider you choose has a system that will alert you as the problem is happening and not after, when it is also a major problem for your business. Remember, if you have problems with your cloud-based services, you have problems with your business, so be sure to do your research before adding cloud SaaS services to your infrastructure.
Cloud computing can be a godsend for your business, but it can also change the way you need to think about your IT. Give Point North Networks, Inc., a call today at 651-234-0895 to talk to one of our consultants about getting the reliable and secure cloud services your business needs.