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ByDaniel Gottilla

Training IT Staff

You’ve found the best IT people out there. You hunted for them, perused resumes and found the cream of the crop. You’ve done the best you could possibly do to get your IT department staffed, but you have a worry in the back of your mind. What if you need them to do something they have never done before? Can they handle it?

IT people tend to be bright, creative problem-solvers. If you have a need, they can probably find their way through data and procedures and accomplish the task. The real question is will it be done as well as it could be, or will it just be a patch? That’s a real worry for a business owner. Chances are you leave IT matters to your tech staff for a good reason, and aren’t sure what to do in this situation.

Have you ever considered getting them some outside training? You’re probably already helping them to stay current on their certifications, and you may be sending them to classes so that they can hone their skills. Did you know that you can bring outside help in?

IT consultants don’t just take care of your technological needs. They can also work closely with your permanent staff and help educate them on tools and techniques they’ll need to keep your system running in an optimal fashion. Your permanent staff does IT because they love it, and they’ll welcome the chance to learn new skills and chat up an industry expert. Not only is it a winning proposition for your employees, but it is for your business, as well. They’ll put what they’ve learned back to work for you, and the fabulous hires you made will continue being at the top of their game.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Just How Compatible Is Your Website?

It’s a common newbie error — you build the perfect website only to find that not everyone can access it. You’ve checked everything on your end and it looks fine, so what on earth is the problem?

Well, every search engine interprets data a bit differently. Firefox presents pages differently than Safari, or Chrome, or Internet Explorer, for example. Even different versions of the same software sometimes have differences, and it’s important that your site be accessible and look great from any browser. After all, your clients and customers find you through a variety of programs.

Another thing you should think about is which browsers you want to be compatible with. It takes time, money, and effort to make a site compatible with a browser. If your site is compatible with 99 percent of users on the Internet, just how much money do you want to throw at the other 1 percent? You’ll need to make some choices about how cost-effective it is to allow these potential consumers to access your site. It may be worth it, or it may be too much of a headache.

If these concerns are new to you, chances are you could use a little help. If you’ve built a good site, you probably just need a small amount of back-end assistance to get it running and compatible with all of the major browsers. Why not hire an IT expert to take care of this? You can delegate the task to a consultant and be confident that it’s being taken care of. Your customers will be impressed by your professional site, and you can do what you do best — handle your business.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Moving, Rearranging, and the Hazards of Reorganization

As your business grows, your space needs grow, as well. Sure, your data storage needs change over time, but we’re referring to your actual, physical space needs. Whether you are switching office space, warehouse space, or just need to rearrange the office, chances are you’re going to have to shift some vital computer bits as well. Moving your servers and your infrastructure around can be complicated. Are you ready?

The first thing you need is a game plan. Just how do you intend to accomplish this, anyhow? By developing a plan of action, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort. Knowing what connects where and how close the infrastructure needs to be to other parts is essential. Knowing what you plan to do, however, is only the first step.

No matter how well you’ve planned, sometimes things go wrong. While you probably already have a disaster plan in place for your company, it’s a good idea to have a mini plan for the move. What will you do if you drop a server? What if you don’t have the power available to run all of the equipment in the new location? Every moment your system is down is money out of your pocket. By planning for emergencies ahead of time, you can have the preparation already done if something goes wrong. This way you can implement the fix as quickly as possible, and get back to business.

Moving your infrastructure is never fun, but with a plan you can be sure that even if something goes wrong, you can handle it. Take a little time to do this before you start disconnecting, and you’ll be sure to complete the move and be back up and running in no time.

Byrgottilla

Considerations for Creating a “Green” IT Infrastructure

Turning to technology for things like virtual conferencing and streamlined communications is actually a great first step in creating a more environmentally-friendly workplace. That’s because one of the worst ways a company can leave a larger carbon footprint (and spend unnecessary money) is to send employees by plane for things like conferences, training, and meetings.

However, when it comes to really having a positive impact in the business world, there are additional considerations. Depending on where in the building and planning stages you are, you might consider:

  • Switching to electronic record-keeping. If your business keeps all correspondence (such as emails and text messages) and routinely prints out receipts or other documents for storage in a filing system, consider using electronic versions as a way to save on printing. You’ll also want to ensure that you have a secure backup system, including offsite and possible even offshore storage options.
  • Building data centers in areas that offer greater options in eco-friendly technology. For example, an area that is naturally cooler and already in touch with alternative energy options is going to allow you to reduce your energy input. Choosing a location that allows for easy commuting can also be a good idea. This is an especially important step if you’re in the planning states of your IT development.
  • Plan for automated processes wherever possible. It doesn’t matter whether you automate your monthly vulnerability management program or a paper-based customer service process – when things are planned in advance to be streamlined and efficient, the result is good for both your bottom line and the environment as a whole.

Of course, if you’re really dedicated to turning your company into a more “green” place to work, you’ll also want to consider eco-friendly building codes, employee incentive programs, or even more advanced technology options. The good news about going green is that no effort is too small, and anything you do today will impact tomorrow for the better.

Byrgottilla

What IT Consultants Have that You Don’t

In many cases, hiring an outside consultant for your business is all about finding and securing the type of experience you simply don’t have on your own team. In today’s business world, much of success is due to finding and perfecting a niche market; if you are really good at one thing, and you know how to make that one thing work, you can start to grow the kind of business that is synonymous with success.

When you really narrow your field, however, you might find that you’re missing out on certain skill sets required to succeed in today’s increasingly global and technological age. For example, perhaps you make and sell purses but don’t know the first thing about selling them online. Maybe you’re in the business of finance, and your tech employees are so busy setting up and maintaining your infrastructure that information security falls by the wayside.

It doesn’t matter how large or how small your operation is; there are times when that IT consultant can fill in the gaps left by your traditional staff.

IT consultants have a number of qualifications that make them especially suited for offering information technology and information security assistance. When you choose the right firm, you get:

  • Higher levels of education, in everything from computer science and electronics to management information systems or even engineering.
  • Greater specialization, particularly when it comes to types of software, programming, and security unique to your business type and size.
  • More comprehensive services, including everything from infrastructure design and planning to full network administration.
  • Quality professional control, since most IT consulting firms can only be as successful as their clients.

Perhaps the most important thing that IT consultants have that you don’t, however, is time. Because these professionals make it their business to see to yours, you can forget the hassles of technology to really get back to what it is you do best.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Consider IT Consulting to Save Time and Money

When you consider hiring an information technology consultant, you’re really thinking about ways to streamline the way you do business. After all, there is no better way to get an outside and professional opinion on your network and IT infrastructure, especially from a results-oriented approach designed to save you time and money.

Time and money are what businesses today are really all about. And while IT consultants can certainly help you find ways to lower your carbon footprint or increase job satisfaction among staff members, the most important thing is that they do it with an eye on your bottom line.

For example, building a “greener” company from an IT standpoint might just help you reduce your paper needs and even increase sales among a more youthful, environmentally-friendly demographic. When Starbucks turned its focus to using free trade coffees and offering their used coffee grounds for gardens, they weren’t doing it just to give back to the planet – they’re working at building an eco-friendly brand others will recognize and appreciate around the world. It’s a business move just as much as it’s a moral one.

At the same time, implementing new technologies that allow employees to do their work more efficiently (and without the hassles commonly associated with the IT field) can boost overall morale, which in turn increases employee retention. Consider an IT support staff member who gets a midnight call whenever the system goes down – while this might be in his or her job description, it can get pretty irritating to always be the one responsible for those late-night emergencies. Relying on an automated system or a consulting firm can be your way to give that employee the rest – and respect – he or she deserves.

There are other ways IT consulting can save you time and money, as well, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s done by filling a temporary staffing need or creating an information security network to protect your business and its assets. Like any type of business consulting, information technology support is about taking the work you do and making it better, easier, and more aligned with where you want your company to go.

Byrgottilla

Streamlining IT Solutions

Whether they realize it or not, most of today’s companies take a “patchwork quilt” approach to information and Internet security. This means that instead of relying on a unified program to oversee and track vulnerabilities, a company can have as many types of protection software as they do types of hardware and networks.

This sort of approach makes sense; after all, your company is growing and expanding, and the infrastructure you had in place two years ago might not be sufficient to meet current needs. The automatic response is to add new programs and hardware as your business grows, and to add the latest in information security to the new infrastructure at the same time.

While this can work as a short-term solution, information security is about a lot more than simply having any old barrier up in place. In order to really get the most out of your vulnerability protection, you have to take a more proactive and comprehensive approach. This means throwing out that old patchwork quilt and replacing it with a solid blanket of protection designed to grow with your company.

There are a number of benefits to this kind of capacity planning and vulnerability management:

  • When your system is overseen by a single vulnerability protection plan, you get tracking data that is consistent and usable for the entire system.
  • You can install vulnerability protection programs that allow for growth while still taking advantage of existing information security measures, saving you both time and money in the long-term.
  • You reduce the possibility of patchwork “holes” that sometimes occur when an information security system is simply pieced together over time.

No matter what your current infrastructure looks like, your business can benefit from a vulnerability assessment and consultation. Not only might you find vulnerability holes you didn’t know existed, but you can streamline the way you run your vulnerability management program – and that can save you time, money, and the trouble of a system weakened by viruses or other outside threats.

ByDaniel Gottilla

On the Lookout for Virus Hoaxes

Most of the time, businesses are on the lookout for ways to keep viruses out of their systems, not the other way around. From firewalls to email restrictions, the tools company leaders put in place have become fairly commonplace in today’s work environment.

However, there is another side to virus protection: virus hoaxes. While virus hoaxes take on a variety of forms, they are almost always warnings about hoaxes that don’t actually exist. Instead of sending you an email containing a dangerous link, these types of emails either send you a warning about a virus that isn’t really a virus at all, or they’ll send you a “virus” or “tracking option” that will allow you to forward a message on in hopes of receiving some sort of unrealistic prize.

As far as information security goes, virus hoaxes are fairly benign. After all, it never hurts to be over-cautious about potential viruses, and forwarding on a message that tells you Bill Gates is going to give you $1,000 free of charge doesn’t do much more than make you look like a fool.

This doesn’t mean virus hoaxes can’t affect your business, however. For example, spending too much time on these types of emails can be bad for employee productivity, and having access to personal emails like this during work time is one of the leading causes of virus problems in the first place. Another major problem is that some clever virus designers actually turn virus hoaxes into real problems. A hoax virus warning might be enough of a challenge for someone to attach a destructive trojan and see what kind of damages ensue.

At the end of the day, the most important thing for workplace information security is to remain on top of what your network – and your employees – are capable of. No matter what your business is, your best bet is to keep protective barriers in your infrastructure and incorporate policy management that limits the amount of access employees have to potentially damaging emails.

Byrgottilla

How Well Have You Planned for Your Company’s Future?

Even in the dark days of recession, you are keeping your company running. Your planning and resources have made the difference, and even now you are making it through. You’ve planned for growth as well as for lean times, and even for a disaster.

Good for you. But just how well have you planned for your future IT capacity needs?

Your business relies on quick turnaround and even quicker communication. Your employees need to access data, to process it, and also to store it. They need to communicate with you and your customers as well as with each other. Knowing your system needs and how you expect them to grow will allow this to continue.

Think of your business as running along a pipe. With your current needs, you’re flowing along with some extra room. If there’s a spike in volume, you can handle it. What happens when your business grows? Will you invest in a huge pipe and let your business trickle along the inside? While you’ll certainly have the space to keep things moving, you’ll have wasted a lot of resources buying and installing far too much infrastructure.

Capacity planning is all about finding the balance between what you need today and what you’ll need tomorrow, while not wasting time and money purchasing too much. Your IT system keeps your business running, and it’s important to make sure that it continues to flow. By taking a look at your capacity needs and making plans for the future you can make sure that your data is can keep to its course without flooding over or backing up.

ByDaniel Gottilla

Can Your IT Staff Really Find Your Vulnerabilities?

Your IT staff was handpicked from a variety of applicants. You chose the people with the best training and the most experience, and they’ve come together to form a formidable team. They’ve built your network and keep it running while maintaining the security of your data and resources. But just how secure are your systems? No matter how experienced your staff is, is it really wise to leave security in the hands of general IT staff?

Network security is complex. It requires constant training and experience. New loopholes are being regularly exploited. Original viruses are being created every day.

Is your staff up for the challenge?

One solution is to find an experienced security consultant. Day in and day out, these specialists work with companies to streamline and strengthen security. They are constantly trained to meet the challenge of securing networks and keeping data safe.

Think of your IT staff as a local baseball team. Sure, they’ve got more skills than most people. They keep the ball moving and score the runs. Put them on a team in the Majors, however, and you can really see the difference.

It’s not that your IT staff isn’t skilled or that they can’t learn. The issue is that they specialize in building networks and keeping your company running, not in security. They’re simply playing at another level, and don’t have the experience to initiate a comprehensive security protocol. IT security consultants, on the other hand, do nothing else. Let experience be your guide, and let a consultant work with your IT staff. You’ll get better security and a more streamlined system, and then you can really start hitting it out of the park.