Avoiding Growing Pains — Tech Tips for a Thriving Business

Avoiding Growing Pains — Tech Tips for a Thriving Business

Maybe you started your business in a basement or home office. It was just you at the beginning. Then, your service or product gained traction. The number of staff grew, and you moved into an office. It’s amazing how far you’ve come. Better still, your business continues to grow. It may be time to consider some of these tech tips to help your thriving business.

 

#1 Upgrade to Business-Grade Cloud Services

Perhaps you’ve been relying on free software from Gmail, Outlook, or Dropbox. Who can argue with free email, calendars, collaboration and file storage right? Well, it may be time to upgrade to the business versions of the software your team relies upon.

Move from Gmail to Google Apps, or Outlook to Office 365, or Dropbox to Dropbox Business. For a small monthly fee, you gain business-grade features.

The basic Google Apps offers business email, video and voice conferencing, secure team messaging, shared calendars, 30GB cloud storage and document, spreadsheet and presentation creation. Plus, you gain greater security and administration controls. Right now, a disgruntled employee could refuse to give up control of a business account.

You’d be out of luck. With Google Apps, your business would control all accounts and could simply reset the password.

Or Dropbox Business provides added storage space and user activity and sharing auditing. Unlimited file recovery and version history make recovery easier. A remote wipe feature protects files on a stolen device). 

#2 Revise your backup strategy

A consumer grade backup setup was enough when you were only dealing with one computer. Now that you have many computers, it’s worth enhancing your backup strategy.

With 3-2-1 backup, your business has a minimum of three backups. Two would be onsite (but separate from one another) and the other offsite. We recommend the cloud. Having your backups in a unified location helps efficient recovery if disaster strikes. With cloud backup, your data is encrypted for storage in the cloud. You can set parameters for how often data is backed up and confirm that it is backing up correctly. Then, if something does go wrong, you can access essential data from anywhere, anytime via the cloud.

#3 Consider Cloud-based Accounting Services

Traditional small business accounting software requires a large database on the desktop computer. As more people need access to the database, the problems start. With multiple people accessing the accounting software:

  • The network can slow when people try to access it remotely
  • Changes can’t be made while someone else is in database
  • Data can get mismatched depending on who has the “newest” version

Cloud-based accounting packages address these challenges. With online accounting software, it’s easy for your business to scale. Business owners can connect to the data from any device with an Internet connection. Plus, in the event of a disaster, productivity won’t suffer as the information is safe and secure on the cloud.

#4 Outsource your IT

Your expanding technology allows you and your staff to do more than ever before. Great. But it also takes extra resources to monitor, manage, and secure it all. By outsourcing IT, your business gains IT expertise. Meanwhile, your in-house IT team can focus its efforts on driving growth.

Outsourcing IT also provides long-term cost savings by reducing downtime, cutting infrastructure costs, and improving security to avoid costly cyber-attacks.

Keep your business growth in check with an eye out for value-adding initiatives.

Want to know more about the benefits of any of these tech tips? Give us a call at 504-323-7111.

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3 Steps to Securing Cloud Data

3 Steps to Securing Cloud Data

Businesses are no longer confusing the cloud with those puffy white things in the sky. For many, the cloud is a backbone business tool. Yet, some worry about storing their data on the Internet using cloud technologies. Consider these approaches to boost business confidence in cloud data security.

#1 Encrypt Business Data

The cloud is a lucrative potential target for cybercriminals. Many enterprises have turned to this technology. In North America, nearly 60% of enterprises now rely on public cloud platforms. That’s a fivefold increase over five years, according to Forresters’ Cloud Computing 2019 Predictions.

Some cloud service providers will promise to encrypt your data in transmission. Take this precaution further by encrypting data before it’s sent to the cloud. Encrypting data turns it into another form of code. Only the person with the correct password can decrypt it. If you use a modern encryption standard, it will be extremely challenging for a hacker to break the code.

Plus, encrypting on your end first ensures the cloud storage provider only stores encrypted data. So, if their storage gets hacked, or one of their employees goes rogue, they aren’t able to read your business data. That is unless they have the decryption password. Make sure the password is strong. Don’t be one of those people still using password or 123456789!

#2 Have a Backup

Many businesses store data on the cloud as a precaution to have redundancy. Yet, it’s a good idea to have another backup copy offsite too. Just in case.

In some cases, businesses have migrated almost entirely to the cloud. All their software and files live on the cloud and they have no other copy. Don’t let this happen to you. We recommend the 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means, even for cloud-reliant businesses, having 3 copies of your data. One would be on the cloud. The other two (2) would be on different devices (e.g. on your local computer and on a backup drive).

#3 Know your Responsibilities

The cloud is a shared technology model. Partner with a cloud service provider with stringent security. At the same time, don’t count on the cloud provider to do everything. Clearly identify security roles and responsibilities. The Cloud Security Alliance reminds us that this can depend on the cloud model you’re using:

  • Software as a Service: The provider is largely responsible for security. After all, the user can only access the applications.
  • Platform as a Service: The cloud partner secures the platform. Your business must configure its own security for anything implemented on the platform. This includes securing the database, managing account access, and authentication methods.
  • Infrastructure as a Service: You’re responsible for everything built on the provider’s infrastructure. They will likely monitor their perimeter for attacks, but the rest is your job.

Cloud technology offers several advantages:

  • Enables IT to scale without investing in equipment, software, employee training, or taking up valuable office footprint
  • Offers peace of mind that data will always be available regardless of conditions at a particular business location
  • Provides up-to-date technology users can access from any device, anywhere, anytime as long as they have an Internet connection

The cloud revolution has come. When you join the ranks of those migrating data to the cloud, do so with these safety suggestions in mind.

Need help securing your data? Whether you’re backing up locally or on the cloud, give us a call at 504-323-7111.

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When is Your Business Ready to Move to the Cloud?

When is Your Business Ready to Move to the Cloud?

By now you know that the cloud isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, cloud computing has become a natural step in business growth, thanks to the numerous (and continually growing) benefits. More and more applications are coming out in web-based form and staff are exceptionally comfortable with this type of change. So when is the right time to move your business computing to the cloud?

Many businesses are facing this question now that cloud computing has become a mainstream norm. After all, you’ll be able to roll out new apps in days, not weeks, and nobody ever says ‘no thanks’ to increased security and efficiency. Like any strategic business decision though, timing is everything. Here’s how to assess your need before you make the switch:

Age of servers and workstations

If your workstations and servers are reaching their end of life and a large capital investment is coming up, you’ll be able to minimize the expense by moving to the cloud. You may even be able to skip certain upgrades completely. Your staff will still need devices to access the cloud data, but you’ll have a lot more flexibility in your choice and they won’t need to be as powerful. This can be a huge cost saving made in just moments.

Need for remote and mobile access

Many businesses are growing while on the move, with a mobile workforce needing to access files from anywhere at any time. This could range from moving around the one location, between offices or even working from home. Forget frustrating connections and lost productivity, cloud computing allows staff to work securely and efficiently from any location with internet access.

Current support setup

If your business currently outsources all your network management, you’re perfectly suited for the move to cloud computing. Network maintenance and monitoring becomes a non-issue, handled 24/7 as part of your cloud service. Network efficiency just keeps rising too, as your cloud provider is always improving their systems. You’ll find problems are fixed before you knew they existed, and server downtime becomes a thing of the past.

Need for predictable IT costs

If it feels like IT costs can spiral out of control at times, challenging your budget and patience, cloud computing will seem like a dream come true. When you make this shift, you’re moving from a capital expense to an operational one – server and system replacements are no longer your concern. You’ll be able to budget for IT costs in advance, knowing no blowouts are hiding around the corner. Monthly costs are known and (usually) capped based on what you use, leaving your cash flow much relieved.

Today’s cloud computing is more advanced, secure and priced more competitively than ever before. At its core, cloud computing is purely about doing things better, and it can have a massive impact on your profits, productivity and even staff satisfaction rates. If your business requires a robust, always available infrastructure with easy monthly costs, it’s time to take a serious look at your cloud computing options.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help your business. Give us a call at 504-323-7111 to discuss how we can improve your business IT.

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Cloud Storage or Local Server – The Best of Both

Cloud Storage or Local Server – The Best of Both

Cloud computing is the biggest buzzword in business today, and for good reason too. The cloud provides many a new-found freedom to do and achieve more than ever before. Greater collaboration, unlocking work possibilities in new locations and often reducing costs provides a healthy boost for many companies.

Every business is unique however, and cloud solutions don’t fit for every scenario. Connection issues, internet plans, or technical requirements can rule it out as an option in some instances. In these situations, we might install a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution instead. Which is a very small server with lots of hard drives.

A NAS is particularly popular in small, mid-sized businesses, and even home environments. Due to their low power consumption, small footprint, and low cost, they often represent an ideal upgrade. Power users and businesses can enhance their networks and get more out of their systems by employing a NAS device to do the heavy lifting.

Reliable, Fast Access

When a property can’t achieve lightning fast internet speeds or services aren’t reliable enough to run a business on; a NAS solution is ideal for the job — serving files locally rather than from a remote server can save vast amounts on uploads and downloads.

Many of the benefits of the cloud can be created locally inside your home or office. Network storage allows you to save and retrieve files from multiple devices with fast local network speeds. Rather than being limited by the speeds offered by your ISP; you can complete file transfers, backups, and sharing at the speed of the hardware you purchase yourself.

A NAS gives you many advantages of the cloud with the level of control, speed, and accessibility of a local server. All this is achieved for a fraction of the cost and maintenance overhead typically associated with conventional servers.

One Device, Many Uses

NAS devices can act as a centralized backup location for active files and devices across the network. Using the device as a file store allows you to share projects easily, collaborate on files, and keep up-to-date copies while revisions change.

The device can be set up to allow redundancy across multiple hard drives. This means backed up data is never vulnerable to only a single hardware failure.

A fully redundant NAS is capable of handling a hard drive failure, or even removal, without interrupting your workflow. Simply replacing the affected hard drive with a new one will backup your files again and rebalance your device as if nothing had happened at all.

Lightweight File Access

Even retaining access to your files away from the office isn’t an ability exclusive to cloud services. NAS devices can be configured to provide secure access to files and folders on remote connections. Working remotely, using a NAS solution, can be done just as easily as if you were sat in the office.

Even when the rest of the office IT is shut-off and shut down, a NAS device can remain on and connected to the network, so access is never interrupted.

A NAS device can run 24/7 without issue. Their low power consumption makes it practical to leave the device powered on for regular backups and easy data access. Devices don’t require the heavy maintenance or large footprint of a bulky server. As a simple solution, a NAS device allows you to focus only on the data.

The Best of Both Worlds

A NAS provides high-speed file access and configuration of a local server and combines it with the low footprint and ease of use of a cloud service. Without relying on a bad ISP, weak connection, or power-hungry hardware, a NAS could be the solution that supercharges your business.

Find out if network storage is the right fit for your business. Call us today at 504-323-7111 to talk about the IT you need to meet your goals.

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Storage Struggles? How to Keep Up with the Data Explosion

Storage Struggles? How to Keep Up with the Data Explosion

Many businesses have already embraced the benefits of going fully digital. It has allowed us to do more than ever before; saving us both time and money iterating over work drafts and emails. It has saved us a ton of space too, eliminating the need for stacks of file cabinets in every office.

The digital boom presents us with brand new problems too. By moving all our files into a digital space, the amount of storage we need to maintain has grown larger and larger just to keep up.

As digital technology has improved, the resolution, clarity, and size of the digital files we create has exploded. Items such as Xrays, which used to be printed on film are now digital files transferred by computer. As a result of the increase in both the number of digital files we use and their ever-growing size, the size of the data we need to store has exploded exponentially.

There are a number of ways in which we can tackle our ever-growing storage problem.

Local server or Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A local server is a machine physically located within your own office or building. These are typically designed to serve many files to multiple clients at one time from locally held storage.

The primary advantage that a local network server has is that all your vital data is available to all users in one central location. This means that employees across the network can access all the resources made available.

These machines can serve files at the speed of the local network, transferring large projects, files, and documents from a central position within the network with ease.

A NAS has many of the same network properties, typically packaged as a smaller profile, low powered computer. A NAS is specifically designed to enable network file sharing in a more compact package. These can be available in units small enough to fit in a cupboard nook and yet still provide staggering storage capacity on only a small amount of power.

Both a local server and NAS device allow for large amounts of storage space to be added to the local network. These units are often expanded with more and more storage over time. As an organization grows over time, so do its data storage requirements.

Cloud Storage

Sometimes the best option for storage is to move your ever-expanding data outside of the business completely. Often, offloading the costs of hardware and IT management can work out to be an intelligent business decision. One that provides freedom and flexibility in your data storage needs.

The major advantage of cloud storage comes from the ability to expand and contract your services as needed without the unnecessary overhead of adding and maintaining new hardware.

By moving storage to the cloud, data can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The flexibility provided by cloud storage allows limitless expansion to any number of devices, locations, and offices. Being able to access data from many locations at a single time can often provide a valuables boost to productivity that can help to speed projects along.

Some of the drawbacks of cloud storage come from factors that may be outside of the control of the business. Not all internet connections are found to be up to the task of handling large amounts of data to and from the cloud. In some cases, the infrastructure is quite simply not in place yet to support it.

IT security regulations can prove to be a barrier to enabling storage in the cloud too. Some regulations either prohibit the feature entirely or enable only certain specific types for use.

The Right Choice for your data

Both cloud and local storage can provide further benefits to enhance your business. Audit logs, central backups, and version control can all be used to secure the way your firm handles data.

Whatever your situation, whether a small NAS can boost your office productivity, a local server can provide the connectivity missing from your firm, or cloud storage can switch on new resources, we can advise on the best choices for your business.

Give us a call at 504-323-7111 to allow us to use our expertise to make the right chose for your data.

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6 Clear Reasons to Switch Your Application to Cloud

6 Clear Reasons to Switch Your Application to Cloud

Has your business embraced the cloud yet? As we move closer to 2019, it’s estimated that approximately 83% of business traffic will involve cloud applications – a trend driven largely by smart decision making. When cloud applications first came out, nobody really understood what the cloud was or how it could help their business, but as the technology improved, so did the secure and flexible solutions available to you. Some of the most common cloud applications are accounting software such as Quickbooks, as well the Microsoft Office 365 package.

Instead of being seen as alternative options, cloud applications are now clearly viewed as the next logical step. Here’s why:

Your data is safer: While it can give you a sense of warm fuzzies to hear your storage drives whirring away, the risks are less appealing. Your servers could crash, drives become corrupted, or a breach could see your data held hostage under a ransomware attack. Of course, there’s always the standard fire/theft/flood scenario to consider too. With cloud applications, your data is safely tucked away in Fort Knox style data centers, complete with robust backup systems in case anything goes wrong. As part of their service guarantees (usually 99.9% uptime), your cloud solution will have technicians on-site whose sole job is to make sure that when you need to use the application, it works. We can help you choose the safest, most robust solution with the best performance.

You’re always updated: Gone are the days of trying to work out compatibility between versions and accidentally corrupting files. Cloud applications are updated automatically on all devices, and unlike when you run an update on a local computer, the process is almost instant. This is because the update is actually running on their end, at the data center. With this advantage, you’re always up to date with the latest features and security patches, no matter how busy you are.

You’re free to move: One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to remove restrictions around when your employees can do their job. With your new cloud application, they won’t have to wait until they get back into the office to send an invoice, follow up with a customer or even make a record-breaking sale – they can do it wherever, whenever. This flexibility opens up a world of possibility and can literally hand you a competitive edge. All your employees need is an internet enabled smart phone, tablet or laptop, so you’re even saving money on tech. You can bet we have tons of ideas on how your business can take advantage of this freedom.

Collaboration is easy: Since all the data is held in one place, your employees can collaborate with ease. Nobody gets locked out of files because someone else is using it and changes appear in real-time for multiple users. By having a single version of a file, ideas can flow faster, results become more valuable, and employees enjoy overall satisfaction with a job well done. It may sound like a simple benefit, but we know how frustrating it can be for staff to collaborate without the right tools to support them.

All you need is internet: Considering how fast modern internet speeds are, this is usually a non-issue. It simply needs to be stable and meet a standard speed. If you’re concerned, we can run checks to make sure it will be a smooth transition for you. Because it’s internet based, the cloud application works with your established network, whether it’s wired, wi-fi or cellular (or a hybrid). Some businesses also choose to have mobile 4G set up in case the internet goes down, that way the connection automatically switches over and downtime is completely avoided. Our technicians can set this up for you.

Size doesn’t matter: Cloud applications are a great option for both big AND small business. Smaller businesses only need to subscribe to single user licenses, while larger businesses enjoy the multi-user license savings. Skipping the cost of per-computer installations and choosing between per-user, per-site or per-use options. We can help you choose the application and cost-saving model that suits your business best.

Talk to us about your cloud options and lock in the advantages today! Call now at 504-323-7111

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