4 Simple Tips for More Reliable Business Technology
Ever since the pandemic, businesses across have Ohio have started to reprioritize the stability of their network technology.
IDC research shows that 95% organizations are now implementing technology-driven strategies to develop new revenue streams. Cloud spending is at a record high today, and nearly every business now relies on a complex mix of on-premise and cloud infrastructure to support their business goals.
But for that investment to yield the great impact, you need to ensure a secure and consistent end-user experience, maintain your service-level agreements (SLAs), and mitigate issues before they become a major issue.
While there’s no replacing the work of a dedicated IT support team, there’s a lot your team can do on its own. Here are just a four ways that you can improve the reliability of your business technology without an expert.
1 – Do a Simple Audit of Your Hardware and Software
If networks function without disruption, your technology will seamlessly support your users. But most businesses tend to overlook routine network checks, until something breaks down and starts costing larger businesses up to $5600/minute in larger organizations.
Your networks infrastructure is the backbone of your increasingly digital enterprise, that’s why it’s crucial to conduct routine network assessments.
Network assessments typically involve:
- Detailed examination of the network infrastructure (i.e., its hardware and software components)
- Documenting networking needs (like bandwidth and latency) of users and applications
- Logging issues that affect dependability and performance of the network(s)
- Identifying steps to resolve the issues affecting the enterprise network
Network assessments are carried out using network mapping and administration software. Most of those solutions are commercial, but there are some open-source network auditing tools that can help you perform your assessment for little money.
A network assessment will unveil the weak links in your network, helping you plan upgrades or changes to better align your business goals and technology. The information you gain from an assessment can have strategic implications, which your IT leadership (or your MSP) can help you synthesize into a better technology roadmap.
2 – Perform a Basic Maintenance on Your Devices
While each vendor supports their own application, operating system, or a hardware device, you will need to continue to manage your overall network for vulnerabilities and patch issues to protect users from downtime.
When a vendor phases out its products, you’ll need months or years of lead up time to replace the system, or risk exposing your company’s data to significant security risks.
Threat actors are constantly exploiting these security gaps. In fact, 2021 saw a 29% rise in exploitation of these vulnerabilities. To mitigate these security concerns, take the following steps:
- Hardware lifecycle management: Keep track of software updates issued for all devices in operation, know when products are going out of support, and continuously evolve your infrastructure upgrade roadmap in accordance to these factors.
- Tracking firmware versions: Inventory all the applications and operating system versions in use across your network, and check for updates issued by the provider at regular intervals.
- Conducting upgrade tests: Before upgrading to a newer version, undertake upgrade tests to understand if compatibility with other elements might be affected. Moreover, newer versions may contain security issues too. Therefore, it is wise to wait for a while before rolling out the update.
Doing these tasks manually is a lot of work for your IT support team. While there are applications to automate patch management, these can be costly to license, especially for small and medium-sized businesses.
When in doubt, you can work with your MSP who will leverage their economies of scale to efficiently accomplish these requirements for multiple customers, which is why they often prove more cost-effective for small businesses.
3 – Track Key Network Performance Issues
If you don’t measure something, you cannot improve it – and the same goes for network performance. Monitoring network performance is important for two reasons:
- It helps you find actionable steps to improve network performance.
- It helps you discover issues that may arise in your network in a proactive fashion.
To this end, businesses must consider tracking the following key performance indicators (KPIs):
- Uptime: This is a measure of the percentage of time for which your devices are functional.
- Availability: It measures the ratio between actual uptime and optimal (planned) uptime.
- Device health: CPU and memory utilization of devices like servers or endpoints.
- Latency: This is the time taken for a signal to travel from one point in the network to another.
Apart from these metrics, you might need to track device-specific metrics, especially for equipment like routers, switches, or load balancers. Network performance tracking requires specialized applications and incurs significant costs which may be difficult to justify from a business perspective.
However, if your in-house teams lack these capabilities, an MSP can help maintain active oversight on your network 24/7, then deliver regular reports and recommendations to achieve these important improvements in your network performance.
4 – Deploy Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA is an authentication technique which requires users to provide multiple verification factors to gain access to the organization’s resources. Considering that MFA can block 99.9% of account compromise attacks, it is an important security measure that must be deployed, especially in today’s cloud-based IT infrastructures.
MFA typically makes use of two factors:
- Something that the user knows like a password
- Something that they possess, like a verified smartphone.
You can also implement MFA using a physical keys that must be plugged into a device, or biometric elements like fingerprints or voice recognition. This helps eliminate exploitation of instances like password reuse and prevents further damage when an email or another entry point has been compromised.
While MFA can cause password fatigue for users, there are easy ways to overcome this issue. Today, organizations can leverage password-less MFA solutions (like app-based verification solutions) that are not only user-friendly, but also makes it much more difficult for hackers to crack.
If You Need IT Expertise, We’re Here to Help
Network performance and security are the backbone of your business technology. With the four tips mentioned above, businesses can ensure that their technology stays reliable and secure, while keeping the workforce functioning at peak productivity.
While these can be accomplished by hiring relevant skillsets, organizations will usually find considerable cost-benefits by partnering with reputable MSPs. If you want to partner with the most trusted team of IT support professionals in Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland, we’re available to any time to help at 614 389 4102 or [email protected]