by Jack Gesualdi, May 28th, 2015 in CTO
IT is essential to modern businesses, yet having a strong and reliable server system with up-to-date hardware and software can be costly. If you’re running a mid-sized company and trying to determine the future of the IT department – and how to get the most bang for your buck – then the best place to start is to map out all of the potential costs that you will face and then compare solutions to see which will prove most effective.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the major things you will need:
- Hardware – This means buying a complete server or all of the parts necessary to build one. A good server isn’t cheap and if your company has a lot of data, then you’ll definitely need more than one.
- Physical Space – Unlike your average computer, which can be shoved into small areas, servers need a lot of breathing room – and the more servers you have, the more space they need. They will run hot, so you will need a room that can be properly cooled and ventilated 24/7/365. The space must also be equipped to handle all of the wiring for the servers, and come with power backups and other safety features.
- Software Licensing – You will need special software for your servers, which will have to be regularly updated to prevent compatibility issues.
In addition to some of the things that you will need, there are certain problems that you will have to address when managing your own server. For instance, you’ll have to make your own repair the instant that anything fails, which can lead to high and unexpected costs. Here are a couple of the other major issues that make many companies view managed dedicated hosting as a viable alternative.
- Keeping IT Efficient – If you’ve got an IT staff already, having them monitor servers and check for problems isn’t the most productive use of their time – especially when they could be improving the company’s site or features for customers. Then there’s the matter of keeping your IT staff regularly trained and up-to-date on changes so that they know how to handle new issues. If you don’t already have dedicated IT staff members for this or need to hire more, finding solid, reliable people can take a lot of time and most likely won’t be cheap.
- Data Security – In addition to all of the software you’ll need for running the systems in your office, you’ll also need software to protect your servers from malicious viruses and potential hackers. This is an ongoing and increasingly important process since, as we have seen in the news over the last couple of years, the number of businesses facing attacks on their servers seems to be increasing every year. With the ever-changing nature of technology, however, you’ll need to be constantly updating in order to keep up with the newest breed of hacker and virus.
As you can see, hosting your own servers and managing them is both time-consuming and costly. The monthly upkeep won’t be cheap, and can become impractical when compounded by problems that require significant outlays to remedy. On the other hand, when you work with a data center and have managed dedicated hosting, you can pay one simple and affordable monthly fee. The best part is that it’s your hosting company’s full-time responsibility to ensure that your servers and data are performing well and are secure. This means that you and your customers will always have access when you need it!
We live in a hyper-competitive, ever-changing, fast-moving global business environment. And as business needs rapidly change…IT infrastructure must keep pace. So, how can IT stay agile enough for mid-size companies to succeed?
Say Hello to Hybrid.
The infograhic below gives you the basics on hybrid cloud: what you get with a hybrid cloud, why it’s especially well-suited for mid-size businesses, and how an MSP can help.
by Buddy Gillespie, April 28th, 2015 in CTO, Healthcare IT
HIMSS recently published the 26th Leadership Survey with a specific focus on the strategic role of IT in healthcare organizations. An overwhelming amount of respondents stated that consumer/patient considerations would be top priority for them. It’s also interesting to note that IT Staffing also ranks as a key initiative.
Since the passage of the HITECH Act in 2009, the need for IT professionals in Healthcare has continued to grow. It was predicted that approximately 50,000 additional staff would be required to implement and sustain the Electronic Medical Record across thousands of hospitals. The 2015 survey indicates that the void of IT professionals still exists and workforce development will continue to be a high priority. It will definitely be interesting to see how this plays out.
The HIMSS Leadership Survey is a good read for anyone in Healthcare IT, and I highly recommend that you give it a look.
When you’re finished, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
by Jack Gesualdi, April 22nd, 2015 in CTO
As a business owner, you have an endless number of concerns on your mind. Some of these include worst-case scenarios, ranging from break-ins at your physical location to being hacked online and your information compromised. The digital issues have become more prominent in the last few years, as more and more business is conducted online and high-profile hackings have made the news. It has become increasingly important that your data is both secure and available whenever you need it.
While there are some upfront costs to protecting your business from worst-case scenarios, the consequences of being caught unprepared could be far worse. Depending on the severity of the situation, it could even wipe your business out. Here are some ways to protect yourself and your business.
- Avoid Losing Your Data
Few businesses are operating exclusively offline nowadays, meaning that just about everyone has data on servers. But, too many businesses aren’t maintaining adequate backups of all their data. When a server problem or natural disaster affects their systems, it can be catastrophic for the business. This kind of data loss can be easily avoided by having data center disaster recovery plans in place. Backing up your information at a secure data center is cost effective and will keep your information completely safe, even in the event of a natural disaster or fire in the office.
- Decrease Employee Risks
It’s important to keep your employees both physically and mentally well. There’s no doubt that your employees are an asset, but there is also risk involved when you have people working for you. As such, you’ll want to ensure that they have proper working conditions and the right equipment and training. Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure that they are satisfied in their jobs and don’t have unaddressed major complaints or issues. Assessing employees and their concerns will decrease the likelihood of sudden departures, drops in work efficiency or quality, and (worst-case scenario) the theft or misuse of sensitive data.
- Prevent Break-ins and Burglary
It makes sense these days to install cameras both inside and outside of your business. To put it bluntly, video security is basic and if you don’t have some form of it, you are not doing enough to protect your business. Your computers themselves can be worth a lot to a thief, but the information on them is even more valuable in the right hands. A security system might be able to prevent this type of theft from happening (many people are less willing to steal in plain view of a camera), and to help bring the perpetrators to justice if it does. There are numerous security options out there, so investigate those available and find a cost effective solution for your business.
by Jack Gesualdi, April 16th, 2015 in CTO
Small businesses that survive the first few critical years and are looking to expand face a number of challenges. Companies that are already mid-sized also face challenges too. The economy in the U.S. has been trending upwards, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start to slip backwards. When the economy hits a rough patch it’s the businesses which have made the most cost-effective decisions that usually survive. If you’re the owner of a mid-sized business or hold a high position in one, it’s worth taking a look and reevaluating everything happening that you’re responsible for in the business. It never hurts to ensure you’re getting the most out of every dollar your business spends, especially when it means you’re able to weather those rough times. Here are some challenges mid-sized business face and how to meet them.
Challenge #1: Managing Growing Data
You have probably witnessed first-hand that your company is dealing with more data each month as your customer base grows. This is a good sign because it means you are receiving more customers, but finding a cost effective solution to handle all that data is difficult. The capital investment for new servers, the software required keeping them up-to-date and the staff needed to manage them almost 24/7 is not cheap. By investing in managed hosting services, you can eliminate those high initial capital costs and know that you’ll have a dedicated and trained staff watching over your servers 24/7. The other bonus to managed hosting services is your monthly cost is fixed and predictable. When running your own hardware, if something fails on you the cost spike can come at a bad time and be very damaging.
Challenge #2: Going Mobile
Due to the recent advances in technologies, the need for hardware and how we train employees is changing regularly. Keeping up with this can be costly. It’s no longer necessary for everyone to always work from the office. Many jobs can be easily completed from home thanks to VPNs, Dropbox, and other utilities. Having employees using technology they’re already familiar with that allows them do their jobs efficiently helps save on hardware and training costs. Allowing employees to regularly work from home also reduces the amount of office space required, which can cut down on your costs too.
Challenge #3: Having an Online Presence
Customers are regularly searching online for everything they need now if they don’t already have a familiar service provider in mind. A business that lacks a website (or a website that is well built and customer friendly) is losing money. The value of a strong website that is optimized for SEO and pragmatically laid out is massive. The cost of maintaining a professional website is well worth the benefits. It is important too, that the website be optimized for mobile devices, as the number of searches each year on mobile devices is rapidly increasing. Customers expect websites to be regularly updated with news and other information about the company; think of your website as on-going advertising of your services and products. If your website seems “stale” and content is not updated or added, customers stop visiting…and that can directly impact whether they purchase from you or from a competitor with an up-to-date and more interesting site.
by Jack Gesualdi, March 16th, 2015 in CTO
As your business grows from a small business to a small-medium one and so on you will discover how important it is to effectively delegate out work that needs to be accomplished. At first you may think it is better for you to do certain tasks yourself because you know how to do them best and in the most efficient manner, and you may be worried about someone else doing this. These are understandable concerns, but what you need to realize is that your time and energy needs to put towards the tasks that help increase business and develop the overall company. These are the tasks which keep business coming in and allow a company to expand.
Let’s examine various tasks that you can delegate out in order to improve your company.
- Create a VP if you don’t already have one, or someone who is second in command. Have them be familiar with everything and everyone in the company. As your company grows you will find yourself having more meetings that take you away from the company or possibly business trips, which means you need someone you can trust to handle the overall leadership and day-to-day activities at the company.
- Find quality business IT support services that have a plan which works for you. Too many companies make the mistake of spending lots of capital and space in investing in their own servers and all of the baggage that comes with them. Finding a quality company to outsource your daily IT-support services to will not only cut off the initial capital investment, but also save you from unexpected price spikes during the month.
- Find a good HR Manager. A good HR manager will have their ear to the ground and will have a strong network which they can look to for finding skilled workers. It was one thing when your business was small and it was you and maybe a few other people, but now that you’re growing you need someone to handle this for you. It’s still fine to have them report to you and even drop in for a short interview for potential applicants, but your focus now needs to be directed elsewhere.
- Struggling to come up with a solution to a problem or trying to improve the business in some way. Don’t let it all fall on your shoulders. Have others in your company brainstorm with you. This relieves the pressure of you having to figure it out by yourself and gets workers more involved.