Proactive IT Monitoring = Knowledge, Knowledge = Power

The term ‘managed services’ has been around in the IT industry for a fair few years now. The level of importance placed on managed services varies from business to business and is directly related to how a company prioritises the efficiency and performance of their IT network and infrastructure.

For many companies, the more traditional break-fix mantra of, ‘When it is broken, we will get the “IT guys” in to fix it,’ is the extent of their IT strategy. In recent years, the more forward thinking organisations recognise the importance of keeping their IT systems running efficiently, to minimise downtime. Unfortunately, relying purely on a break-fix approach can be risky.

The majority of the time, just reacting to problems that have already occurred is too late. Productivity has been diminished, data has been lost and downtime has had an impact. Consider these real life scenarios:

Scenario 1

Backups have failed and have for the last few weeks but without proper monitoring, nobody noticed. It is only when the HDD gives up the ghost that the company discovers the loss of invoices, product orders, communications and more.

Scenario 2

A spam bot attacks the exchange server because the firewall isn’t being monitored. This creates a spam relay causing the customer’s domain to be blacklisted. The ISP terminates service and the internet and email shut down.

Scenario 3

A virus has hit the network due to the server anti-virus expiring over a month ago. Due to the lack of monitoring and management, this has escalated into the users not being able to start their workstations up until everything has been cleaned.

The ability to strategically look forward, for many IT departments is a tricky task, mainly due to various operational and commercial pressures. However, in order to enhance and maintain technology performance, planned monitoring will ensure that corporate objectives are met and, more importantly, reduce the exposure to risk.

‘But it is too expensive!’ I hear you cry….IT purchases are often about justifying upfront costs for hardware and software. After those expensive purchases, it is rare that a company would monitor the performance of the costly kit and just rely on the vendor’s claims. This makes little sense after spending so much putting the kit in place.

In fact, for a modest monthly fee, monitoring will allow you to:

  • Analyse historical trends to enable data driven insights and decisions
  • Prevent outages rather than fight fires
  • Increase productivity and run at peak performance
  • Plan and budget for future upgrades
  • Minimise downtime and save money

Perhaps more importantly, a managed service provider, such as Netshield take on all the risk for you. When your systems are running at peak performance, you are happy and so are we!

Contact us to enquire about a health check or to find out more about our monthly NetManage rates.

How outsourcing your IT can help gain competitive advantage

IT networks have grown in complexity in the last few years. With all the changes like cloud, end-user demands, social media, mobility and smart devices it is not always easy to keep up with IT demands and new technologies, this can be particularly difficult for SMEs.

Outsourcing can ultimately help relieve pressure on internal resources. By utilising a Managed IT Services Provider (MSP), it is like extending the IT team without the HR costs of recruiting new IT personnel, it is a flexible resource that can look after a small element like monitoring the company’s servers to providing a fully managed service with 1st – 3rd line technical support. Services provided can be scaled up or down, as and when the business needs them.

Less strain on resources means businesses can focus more on core functions without worrying about IT issues impacting daily operations. Additionally MSPs can carry out regular maintenance and preventative activities to lower the risk of unexpected downtime. They can carry out administrative tasks like software updates and ensuring data security measures meet the required data compliance and regulations.

Furthermore outsourcing provides businesses with access to IT expertise and knowledge that the company may not have – MSPs are trained and up-to-date with the latest technologies so, they can implement new solutions quickly and cost-effectively. Not only can this increase business efficiency but, competitive advantage too.

In the era of collaborations, working with a MSP to ensure all IT needs are met can be mutually beneficial. MSPs should listen and cater for business needs, if they just go in with a hard sell, they might not be the best match. To discuss in more detail how outsourcing your IT can benefit your company, contact us today.

Countdown to Microsoft Windows Server 2003 End of Support

By Microsoft’s calculations there are still millions of machines running on Windows Server 2003. Over a decade old, the successful server operating system will retire on the 14th July 2015 where, Microsoft will terminate the support for it.

The server will not suddenly stop working, users will still be able to access the resources they require but, staying on the platform can be risky, costly and cause compliance issues for businesses.

See what the Microsoft Windows Server 2003 end of support could mean for your business in our short video:-

If you would like more information or advice on Windows Server 2003 migrations and upgrades, get in touch, we will be happy to help.

Ability to work anywhere, with a virtual desktop environment (disclaimer internet required)

With technology constantly changing, maintaining the complexities of a physical desktop infrastructure can be labour-intensive and costly depending on the size of the IT estate. Employees need to work remotely, require out of hours access to corporate data and applications, increases the demands on the network. Changes in customer expectations and the era of the 24/7 marketplace also adds to the demands. So, it is necessary to review IT infrastructures regularly to ensure they are supporting the organisational needs and meeting the requirements.

Bye bye physical desktops?

One of the ways to save time and money on migrations and management is to just get rid of the desktops (not literally) and move to a ‘Virtual Desktop Infrastructure’ or VDI.
Imagine you have an estate of over 100 physical desktops and they all need to be upgraded to a new operating system, you would need to work on each desktop individually to upgrade it, taking up a lot of your time. But, if you utilise VDI technology you would only need to upgrade it in one place and deploy it to the rest of the estate.

VDI repurposes PC devices into thin clients and transforms a traditional desktop Hosted Virtual Desktopsenvironment into a low footprint virtualised environment, offering flexibility and scalability allowing employees the ability to access their desktop or corporate user account remotely, without the worry of data confidentiality or unmanaged devices on the network. It also unifies and centralises management where IT administrators can manage users and applications with ease.

Implemented internally it will require expertise in order to plan, deploy and managed the virtualised infrastructure. It would also require upfront capital expenditure for things like storage, thin clients, virtualisation software etc. Another option is to use a Cloud-Hosted Virtual Desktop environment provided by a Managed Services Provider (MSP), it will provide all the VDI benefits, but with less hassle or you could employ a provider to carry out the migration for the organisation.

For more information on VDI or Hosted Virtual Desktop services please contact us today

Cloud IP Telephony (VoIP) explained in 2 minutes…

Cloud IP Telephony or VoIP uptake amongst organisations is growing due to the movement towards ‘Cloud Computing’ or the Software-as-a-Service model. Cloud has enabled organisations to have access to the latest technology without having to make a large capital investment.

Compared to traditional phone lines, VoIP solutions not only help lower the costs but, it also helps consolidates existing suppliers into one. Watch our 2 minute video to find out more…

For more information on VoIP services and the benefits please contact Netshield today on 0845 603 5552