All businesses, whether small or large, operate on a day to day basis looking to cut costs, increase production and gain profit. One undeniable necessity for businesses of today remains to be computers and technology. Can you name a business that does not use computers as part of it’s day to day operations…besides the “Paleta guy” on the corner?
NO YOU CAN’T!!
Let’s focus on small businesses today; companies that have fewer than 50 employees, and a range of 1-30 computers (or servers, or workstations). Due to the nature of computers and their likeliness to fail, many business owners have developed the “break/fix” mentality. What is the “break/fix mentality” you ask?
In other words many business managers and owners, feel that there is no need to worry about the maintenance of their computers or data until something “breaks” or fails to work properly. Unfortunately, there is a serious problem brewing, for most business owners and managers, who are not pro-active about maintaining their technology.
Not applicable to all business types, businesses that provide services to clients and retain sensitive information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, mortgage records, health information etc, can not afford to cut corners when it comes to their technology, network, and sensitive data.
Let’s visit a scary fact: According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety, an estimated 25% of businesses do NOT reopen following a major IT disaster.
We all understand that statistics can be skewed, but realistically speaking; does YOUR business serve customers that would lose trust in your security if they received notification that their personal information stored on your company’s computer(s), had been compromised or stolen; or even worse – used in identity theft? NO, they wouldn’t!
Let’s envision a different scenario, that is actually common in the business world. The owner of an accounting company decides to streamline his budget and call his “neighbor’s son” to address his computer network when there is a problem. One day, a hard drive failed on their file server, and the company’s financial records stored on that server/drive, were not longer accessible. “No problem” said the business owner.. “we have backup of this drive so we are fine.” Unfortunately, the backup was never tested, and the “neighbor’s son” soon realizes that the backup copy that they have been using - does NOT restore. The critical financial data is lost for good!
To make matters worse, an audit of the company’s books by the shareholders – is scheduled for the next week. The business owner mentions that the financial records have been lost. Several of the share holders allege that the owner has “cooked the books” and is simply hiding the data from them. The shareholders decide to sue in court, and are awarded a large sum of money. The business owner files bankruptcy and goes out of business. Who ever thought backing up data was THAT important?
Managed Services is a proven solution to many of the current technology problems that plague small business owners, and can cause their businesses to close their doors unexpectedly. Also known as Pro-Active Maintenance, Maintenance Plans, Maintenance Agreements, Contract Business Tech Support, or Network Tech Support….the list goes on. In a nutshell, this service is provided by IT service providers or computer/network consultants, to keep networks, computers, servers and hardware working in optimal condition as well as preventing problems that “regular computer users” (most business owners), would fail to notice.
Just the same as an automobile requires maintenance to avoid catastrophic engine failure (which in many cases the repairs cost more than the car is valued), so do networks and hardware. Some of the benefits that a maintenance plan can offer are:
* 24/7/365 monitoring the health of servers, workstations, computers and hardware; to discover and mitigate possible problems that could ruin a business.
* Managing (adding/removing) staff/employees on a network, preventing people without valid credentials, from gaining access to confidential and privileged information.
* Assuring that the anti-virus software installed on servers and workstations, updates properly and contains the latest malware detection signatures.
* Monitoring internet traffic to detect hackers attempting to gain unauthorized access to the network; in hopes of using the company’s network to attack other businesses – while concealing their true identity and location. Also, monitoring traffic to detect hackers that will compromise a company’s network for illegal financial gain (credit card info theft, etc).
* Implementation of backup solutions. Ensuring that all data is being backed up to prevent data loss, as well as testing the backup for integrity, to ensure the backup can actually be restored successfully if needed.
* Implementation of power supply solutions. Ensuring that in case of a major power outage, all computers, servers, printers etc, will continue to stay powered on to allow the users to save all of their current projects, with no loss in productivity, or loss data.
* Network security implementation. Ensuring that a policy for network and internet access is put into place. Wireless networks are secured to prevent unauthorized users from “stealing” critical data, or connecting to the network to share it’s internet connection. As well, putting into place a policy that will not allow certain users to jeopardize the integrity of a network (i.e. connecting to the company’s wired network using a wireless router and a laptop, thus exposing sensitive information to the “outside world,” due to an unsecured connection).
The cost and terms of Managed Services Plans, vary depending on location, company needs, infrastructure and more. Costs can vary from a flat fee of $100.00 per month, per business - to several thousands of dollars, per month per business. It’s recommended to contact your consultant or consulting company, request a thorough “audit” of your network, and allow your trusted IT advisor to advise what kind of plan is needed, what is covered, and what the price and terms will be.
If your business depends on computers for it’s day to day operations, you can’t afford NOT to have some type of maintenance plan in place. Digital computer data is not necessarily reliable, and it’s not a matter of IF your hardware will fail…..but of WHEN your hardware will fail.
Hopefully you have learned what Managed Services are, and how your business can thrive with this service, or falter without it. Until next time….
Jarvis Edwards – TekTime