The complexity and constant change that exists in the world of Information Technology is causing frustration for the leaders of small businesses everywhere. IT whiz-bangs know networks and servers, but often, they do not know regulation and compliance. In addition, one of the main challenges a small business faces is the overwhelming number of emails, documents (stored electronically or on paper), and application data, in either a central database or on a local computer. These are all forms of intellectual property with great value to the organization.
In fact, it’s one of the most valuable resources an organization has. But when a business generates more digital information than it can keep up with, it’s referred to as “Data Sprawl.” Data sprawl refers to the staggering amount and variety of data produced by an organization. This is largely due to the variety of software, mobile apps, storage systems, and data formats each company relies on.
To complicate things, data is distributed across multiple departments and many locations, including home offices and travel locations. Data can also be in the cloud. So, what’s the risk?
There are two potential concerns that would both have grave impact; 1) The business loses data, and you don’t have access to it anymore and, 2) The business loses data, and you have liability impact. Imagine if your company had a customer database on an unprotected computer hard drive and the hard drive failed, or a laptop that had private client information was lost or stolen. For all you know, employees may be handling data carelessly or have given unauthorized users access to your data records. This can put your company at risk with industry-specific regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. And, we haven’t even talked about the risk to data caused by cybercrime.
So certainly, it’s the endpoints (computer, laptops, and smartphones) that contribute most to data sprawl. Are there measures we can take to control endpoints? In a word, “yes.” One of the more effective solutions is to virtualize all your desktop computers.
Virtual Desktops have many benefits. One, you’re keeping the entire endpoint computer inside the data center operation. That means the applications, document files, data – everything. This means you have complete control over access and making sure backups are in place. Cyber protection is also easier to maintain so you are at less risk of ransomware and malware. You may also find that this is an important solution to ensure you meet compliance mandates. Imagine if you were able to protect all of your data in this way. You’d probably get more sleep at night!
That’s certainly a lot to know, you say… One possible solution is to outsource your computer operation and focus your employees on the mission at hand. But how do you find the right company to help you? Here are a few important considerations when choosing an outsourced IT provider:
Knowledge & Experience
Information technology is such a vast field of study today that no one person knows it all, or close to it. Today, most engineers specialize in a specific category or two. Make sure you ask how many direct employees the provider you’re entertaining has. Being able to pull in a telecom expert, network security engineer or storage area network specialist, when needed, is very important.
Some problems can’t be solved over the phone, and it is best if you have someone local to come in. Having someone that can run over when you have an outage is an important consideration. Of course, remote access is great. However, your best solution is a provider that can easily do both.
Are you able to get a hold of someone when you have a problem? A service level agreement is important when dealing with a service provider. All providers have metrics that let them know exactly what their average response time is. Being able to escalate to someone is also important. Make sure you have your rep’s cell number and other important contacts.
Your technology is interconnected. One system relies on another and yet another. For example, if you have a modern security camera system, it’s likely it uses your switched network infrastructure or wireless network to operate. Your phone system is likely to work in a similar way. You will want a provider that can resolve many issues without getting multiple vendors and other 3rd parties involved.
It is always good to ask for references. A great provider will have many happy clients. They will be willing to share a few names with you so you can ask questions. Make sure to ask!
Lastly, it’s very important to choose a provider that is willing to take the time to get familiar with the way you do business. Creating proper documentation in the beginning will reduce wait times when things go wrong. We hope this information helps in some small way. Feel free to contact Van Ausdall & Farrar if you need additional assistance!
Van Ausdall & Farrar, Inc.