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.

10 Reasons Why Cloud is Good for Business

In today’s world, everyone is captivated with their laptops, tablets and mobile devices, we are so captivated on average individuals have access to 3 different devices. We have the ability to be always connected and access the information we want and need within a few clicks, which leads to the idea of Cloud Computing revolutionising the workplace.

What is Cloud Computing?

It is the delivery of computing as a service comparatively than a product. Your business information, software and information is transferred to computers and other devices as a service over a network. A Cloud services has 3 main attributes that makes it slightly different from traditional hosted services;

  • It is sold on demand
  • It is elastic and scalable
  • It is fully managed

Why would Cloud Benefit your Business?

  1. Automatic software updates– The Cloud Service Provider (CSP) carries out the maintenance for all the software, which includes security updates, helping you free time for other tasks in your business.
  2. Flexibility – Any Cloud based service can immediately meet any frequency low or high so, it can adapt to your business as it grows.
  3. Controlling Costs– Save money by having a scalable solution for a monthly fee and if you choose to use a CSP your business will require less networking hardware on site.
  4. New Business Ventures – Due to the flexibility and the speed of deployment of cloud resources businesses are able to try new ideas without extreme investments in systems quickly and efficiently.
  5. Stability– A lot of businesses suffer from downtime due to crisis management, hardware upgrades or other problems, CSP continuously monitors and maintain the systems which provides dependable uptime.
  6. Work from anywhere– With an internet connection employees in your business can work anytime, anywhere which can help increase the workers’ productivity and job satisfaction.
  7. Build, expand and use new operations– Cloud computing enables you to build quickly, deploy and manage applications which can be built in any framework, tools and languages. So, setting up remote offices will be easy as 1, 2, 3!
  8. Security– By using Cloud everything is stored in a central location, so your business data can still be accessed no matter what happens to the device.
  9. Environmentally friendly– It helps decrease the carbon footprint of your business as you’re only using the resources you require.
  10. Competitiveness– The cloud grants SME’s access to business class technology at a set monthly cost. It can allow smaller companies to act faster than substantial well-established opponents with complex networks.

Cloud for business is advantageous, although the requirement of an internet connection is a disadvantage, with our addiction to mobile devices and access to information – the internet has become a common commodity. Find out what the cloud can do for your business by contacting us today 0845 603 5552.

Managed IT Services Provider adds VoIP to their Service Portfolio

September 2014, Managed IT Services provider Netshield has expanded their portfolio to include Hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Telephony service; which will help SMEs benefit from cost-savings and simplified administration compared to traditional telephone systems.

Building on the years of experience in providing Datacentre and Hosting services to businesses throughout Europe, Netshield will now be able to provide Hosted Voice services as well. The Hosted VoIP service will enable users to transmit voice traffic over an internet connection rather than over traditional wires. This will offer companies flexibility and help reduce costs without compromising on functionality.

The service will include features such as secure instant messaging, presence functionality, video calling, collaboration tools, simple administration and integration of office and mobile services.

Richard Carty, Commercial Director at Netshield commented ‘VoIP is ideal for SMEs and remote workers because it has minimal capital expense, easy to manage, user friendly and it is scalable. With traditional systems companies have to deal with a number of suppliers for the upkeep, with VoIP it consolidates which saves a considerable amount of time.’

‘With the movement towards cloud technology, adding VoIP services will be complementary to our range of Hosted and Managed IT services’ added Richard Carty.

Upgrading your Business Broadband? But which one?

Connectivity is becoming a necessity for organisations with many needing faster and more reliable service to ensure business continuity. For commercial broadband buyers there are many to choose from and each will have their advantages and disadvantages.

ADSL 2+

Popular choice, as it uses the same infrastructure as standard ADSL connections but, it can provide up to 3 times greater connection speeds. However, the actual speeds you’ll get depends on the distance between the premise and the exchange.

Fibre to the Premise (FTTP)

Is considered as one of the fastest options because it involves running a cable from a nearby exchange straight to your business premises. Installation costs are subject to survey, as the ISP need to assess how much digging will be involved to connect the premise to the exchange. It takes on average 3 months to install and it is not available everywhere.

Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC)

Similar to FTTP this is where a cable is running from a nearby cabinet to the premise and it is not available everywhere. It is considered to be a solution that is a cross between copper broadband and Ethernet First Mile.

Fibre on Demand

Also known as FTTP On Demand enable customers to access speeds up to 330Mbps by extending a fibre-optic broadband connection from the nearest cabinet to the premise.

Ethernet First Mile (EFM)

One of the lower-cost lease line options. Instead of using fibre, it uses existing copper lines to connect the business premise to the local exchange – making it more cost-efficient and faster to install. It is a contented service but, you will receive the same upload and download speeds unlike ADSL.

Microwave

Is a way of transmitting information by using electromagnetic waves and it is widely used for point-to-point communication. It has a small wavelength, with high frequency and the antennas are pointed directly at the receiving antenna. Due to the high frequency it has a large capacity to carry data but, this technology is limited when there are hills and mountains in the line of sight because the waves cannot pass through.

Leased Line – Ethernet

It is a private line that permanently connects two locations; either Internet Leased Line a connection between a service provider and a customer or a ‘Point-to-Point Leased Line’ which is a connection between two customer sites. It is an uncontended connection, offering the same upload and download speeds, making it a reliable and stable connection. Dedicated Ethernet leased lines also comes with a Service Level Agreement.

To help improve connections for businesses and support economic growth the UK Government is currently running a Connection Voucher scheme across the UK. The scheme offers ‘connection vouchers’ worth up to £3000 to help SMEs, Charities and Social Enterprises towards improving or upgrading their current broadband connectivity.

By upgrading broadband connections companies can benefit from improve reliability, increase productivity, enhanced communication with stakeholders and better service speeds. For more help on choosing your business broadband please feel free to contact Netshield today.