The New Year is upon us and it is a great time to review the most important parts of your business – including IT. That means taking a good look at your IT plan for 2014.
The last year has seen some major changes in technology that you need to be aware of. There have also been a couple of big storms that should make you think about your IT services. Here are the seven big things we see as essential for you to include in your IT plan for 2014.
1. Get rid of Windows XP
Microsoft has announced Windows XP will no longer be supported after April 8, 2014. That means you need to replace any computers running this operating system within the next 90 days. Click here for a way to figure out how many XP computers you have.
(And by the way, we recommend going with Windows 7 and not upgrading to Windows 8 yet because of issues many people are having with Windows 8.)
2. Take Advantage of Cloud Computing
There are some great opportunities to increase efficiency, reduce risks and save money by implementing “the Cloud” into your business. It is important to look at how Cloud computing fits into your overall IT plan and identify the areas where hosting things offsite makes the most sense.
One area that we are seeing huge benefits for our clients is by moving email hosting offsite through Office 365. You can read more about that here.
3. Develop a Bring Your Own Device Strategy
There was a time when your staff would all get company cell phones. For many companies this has changed and when new employees come on board they want to use their own smartphones or tablets and hook them up to the company network.
Instead of paying for these devices many companies provide mobile phone allowances or reimburse expenses of their staff.
What this means for your IT plan is you need to have a way to ensure these devices (which you don’t own) remain secure and if they are lost, stolen or the employee leaves, that you have a way to wipe the data on them so it doesn’t get into the wrong hands.
4. Get Ready for the Next Big Storm
Power management became a big deal this year for many of our clients with power outages from the Toronto Flood and the big ice storm over the holidays. Businesses that had a best practices setup for their network UPS devices had their IT equipment better protected and were back online faster after a power outage.
IT equipment that wasn’t properly protected got damaged which led to downtime and in some cases data loss. Here are the lessons we saw from the Toronto flood. The best way to know your business is protected is to do a full audit of your setup.
5. A Strong Approach to Network Security is Even More Important Now
The past year saw an increased number and severity of viruses, dangerous spam and creative hacking attempts. Every year new threats emerge and it is even more important to properly secure your network.
That starts with having a strong unified threat management firewall in place to protect you from both outside and inside threats to your data. Here is a video that provides more detail on why a good firewall is important.
6. Invest in your Backup and Disaster Recovery
There is nothing more important to your IT plan than your backup and disaster recovery approach. In 2013 we saw people lose data due to viruses, storms, human error and hardware failure. Do NOT cut corners on your backup. This is an area you should be investing in to protect your business.
Your backup should use an industry-leading image-based backup software. It should backup both onsite and securely offsite. And it needs to be TESTED regularly to make sure it’s working properly. Here is some more info on backups!
7. Make Sure Your Internet is FAST
As more of what we do is cloud-based, there is more pressure on our internet connections and bandwidth. You should be reviewing your connectivity speed and reliability at least on an annual basis, or any time you make a major IT infrastructure change.
The major carriers are constantly upgrading their speeds and fibre is becoming more affordable in many parts of the GTA. Audit your internet connection and make sure you are getting the speeds your business needs and that you have a backup internet line in case your main one goes down.
Happy New Year!
We are here to help business grow by using technology effectively. If you are not 100 percent confident in these seven areas, please schedule a network audit with us to get your business on the right track for 2014!