Business on Top, PJs on the Bottom: Optimize Your Remote Office To Keep Working For You

woman working at home in business jacket and pajama pants “Are you working from home?”

It’s become a common question this past year as the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives. When it was suddenly unsafe to work in the offices we’d spent years commuting to every day, we adapted fast: spare rooms were transformed into makeshift offices, old chairs were drafted into service as desk chairs, and our home wireless routers were pushed to their limits handling the new wave of traffic from video calls, file transfers, and Slack conversations.

We figured out how to use Zoom and GoToMeeting. More importantly, we discovered very fast that, angled correctly, our computer cameras would only capture the top half of our bodies, so we could throw on a respectable shirt and still maintain weekend-level comfort in pajama pants and slippers.

Yes, with the easier dress code, homemade coffee, and no time spent commuting, working from home definitely had its perks, even if what led us to that situation was tragic. But now, there are some encouraging signs that things may be improving, even if we’re not out of the woods totally yet.

Moreover, even as things return to something like “normal,” going to the office every may be a thing of the past. As more companies permanently move to offer remote work models, it seems increasingly likely that successful businesses looking to attract the best talent will need to take a hybridized approach, where employees can fluidly move from working at home to working at the office and back again.

The key to a set-up, like that, though, is ensuring that your business is optimized for remote work. If it is, you and/or your employees will be able to seamlessly transition back and forth between the home office and the traditional office as changing times and situations demand. If you’re not optimized, you may run into serious hurdles that impact your work.

Take a moment and ask yourself a few questions about your home office set-up, and determine if it’s working for you as well as it should.

coffee and computer at workstationAre you optimized for efficiency?

Because the pandemic hit so quickly, many were forced to scramble to set-up remote work solutions. Things simply needed to get done. But when it comes to ensuring that you can connect with your company servers and databases and collaborate effectively while remote, the quick solution may not be the best one.

Indeed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to remote work. Every business has different needs, and finding a remote work solution that best meets those needs is crucial. For many companies, a virtual private network (VPN) will offer the speed and reliability they need. Other companies may find that they also need a remote desktop set-up, so they can access programs they don’t have on their laptops.

Either way, choosing the option that works best for your company will allow your business to run smoothly no matter where you and your team are working from.

Is your network secure?

It’s unavoidable. Working with remote networks opens you and your business up to a variety of cyber-security risks. From viruses and hacks accessing open networks to data and records being stolen from Zoom, the systems and processes that allow for working outside the office allow numerous opportunities for hackers and others to compromise your security.

Does this mean that remote work should be avoided? Not at all. But a bit more diligence is required to stay safe. There a few simple solutions that can make a major difference.

For example, it’s invaluable to train and regularly update your team on best practices for spotting phishing scams and other potential attacks. It’s also important to password protect all valuable data and servers, with multifactor authentication.

One of the most important things you can do is set up a secure shared drive on the Cloud. Not only will this allow multiple people to work on the same file at the same time, it also offers protection through encryption.

man working at computer, smiling

Do you have the tech support you need?

As a beloved band of paranormal exterminators once asked, “who you gonna call?”

In a typical office, when something goes wrong, like a network outage, you know to contact your office IT pro for assistance. But working from home, an outage can make you feel completely cut off. It’s essential to have processes in place to address issues as they arise.

Even better, though, is having a dedicated IT team who monitors your network and can solve problems before they arise and cut you off. Even beyond maintenance like that, a dedicated and professional IT team can troubleshoot bigger picture issue’s with your company’s remote working set-up, and propose solutions and fixes that will prevent any issues from occurring.

We can help you find a remote office solution that really works.

Determining what home office setups work best for you and your team—now and in the long term—can be a daunting task, as can enabling all the protocols and protections you’ll need for cybersecurity. There are so many elements to consider, and there may even be technology and hardware issues you aren’t aware of.

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Your Beacon IT Services (BITS) team is ready to work with you to create a remote working solution that will deliver for your business and monitor your network. From selecting the best solutions to getting your network set up to being on-hand to make any changes that you need or address any issues that may arise, BITS will have your back every step of the way as you navigate the best ways to work in this changed (and changing) world. We’re just a click away.

So don’t trade in the sweatpants and slippers for slacks and loafers just yet. (Or ever). Contact us today and we’ll make your home office work as well for you as the real one, for as long as you need it to.

By | 2021-03-24T07:28:46+00:00 March 24th, 2021|System Administration, Cyber Security, IT Services|

The History and Evolution of Managed IT Services

History: we’ve lived through it, and more is being made every day. And while what’s happening in IT services may not seem quite as dramatic as what’s happening in the rest of the world, there’s no doubt that the industry is rapidly evolving in ways that will change how IT business is done going forward.

And it’s not just that the way IT services are handled: it’s in the increasing need for every business to have a robust online presence, and with that, the need for trusted managed IT service providers. So how did we get here? As always, to get a sense of where we are going, it’s worthwhile to take a look back.

From “Break / Fix” To Managed Services 

For a long time, the dominant model for IT services was “Break / Fix.” A business would have their system set up, then when something went wrong, they’d call up an IT team to come fix it. Sure, that meant lots of downtime while they waited for the team to address the issue and big bills to fix major problems. But at the time, companies either weren’t relying as heavily on technology in their day to day business, or least they didn’t believe that they did.

As times changed and technology advanced, it became clear to many companies that technology was absolutely essential to their operation. The long down times and significant work (and income) reductions that came with the “break / fix” model were simply unacceptable. Still, it wasn’t feasible or practical for many companies – especially small businesses – to have their own full-time IT expert. So managed IT services were born.

In the managed IT services model, companies contracted with outside team of IT experts to monitor their technology and fix any issues that arise as soon as possible. This meant that companies no longer had to worry about crashing systems or email being down, but could also leverage more sophisticated and complex technology. The IT team would even update a company’s technology and systems to be up-to-date.

A New World of IT

Today, more business than ever is conducted online. Cloud computing gives companies access to levels of data storage and online collaboration that would have been unthinkable (or at least unaffordable) just ten years ago.

And with so much more happening in that cloud space rather than on hard drives, cyber security is even more essential as well. Fortunately, managed IT services can also put systems in place (like multi-factor authentication) to prevent data from being stolen, exploited, or tampered with.

So it’s no surprise that companies are increasing the resources they give to IT: data shows that 44% of businesses plan to increase their tech spending this year.

And more changes are in store.

Soon, 5G technology will likely transform the digital landscape again, increasing the speed and capacity of online systems while decreasing latency (the time it takes for data to travel between devices and cellular towers- practically, the delay between your action and a site’s response). Soon, people from across the world will be able to collaborate together as though they are in the same room.

The power of 5G technology, along with other revolutionary innovations like the Internet of Things (IOT), could change everything about the way we do business and live our lives. It goes without saying the “break / fix” model wouldn’t fly in this new world. Every business that wants to stay competitive will need a trusted IT team of experts to manage their technology and ensure their cyber security.

And a business that doesn’t adapt to this new world of IT? Well, they’re history.

Take Control of Your Future

Fortunately, a trustworthy IT partner isn’t hard to find. In fact, you’ve got one right here: Beacon IT Services (BITS). We’ve been helping our clients manage their IT since 1998: we’ve been there through IT’s history and evolution, and we can help you ready your business for the future.

Contact us today to discuss your managed IT needs, or request a free audit. Your future begins today.

By | 2020-06-25T11:49:34+00:00 June 25th, 2020|System Administration, Computer Related, 5G, IT Services|

Is Cloud Hosting Still the Best Option for Your Business?

The cloud is a powerful method of computing. When the term first entered into wide usage, it was ambiguous. No one really knew what it meant. Or, if they understood the concept, most people had no idea how it worked.

Today, we’re past the stage of being mystified by the cloud. Most people get the concept of a decentralized computer network that harnesses the power of many individual machines to provide computing services.

But understanding the cloud and trusting the cloud are two entirely different propositions. Despite the proven benefits, many business owners or administrators still have a tough time relinquishing control over their data to a third party. They just don’t like the idea of sending proprietary information out into the ether.

Are they right to be concerned? Are there better methods of storing data?

To be sure, cloud computing isn’t the only option available. Many businesses choose to host their websites or manage their business infrastructure on their own, in-house servers. Some may split some data storage tasks between in-house servers and the cloud. On the other hand, many businesses fully embrace the power of the cloud.

What’s right for someone else may not be right for you. And vice versa.

So, how can do you know if cloud hosting is right for your business? Let’s take a look at a few attribute of the cloud to help you make an informed decision.

Ease & Access

One of the best things about cloud hosting is the ability to easily access your data anytime and from almost anywhere. This makes running your business on the go very easy. And, it can also foster greater collaboration among your employees – especially if they’re working remotely or in different locales.

Another benefit is foregoing big expenditures on expensive hardware. In-house servers cost a lot of money. If you’re a small business, investing in costly infrastructure may not be the right move. Cloud hosting allows you to keep your costs down as your organization grows.

This highlights another cloud advantage – scalability. If your company grows quickly, or your website traffic takes off unexpectedly, all you have to do is inform your provider that you need to step up your plan to meet your data needs. That’s it.

Another upside of cloud hosting is the ability to get back up and running quickly after a disaster or emergency situation. Decentralizing your data allows you the flexibility to access important information whenever you need it, from whatever device you have available.

Security

Many cloud detractors cite security is a reason why they won’t engage with the service. This group prioritizes maintaining complete control of company data from start to end. They would rather entrust their IT security to an in-house team of experts.

However, cloud providers are actually better positioned to provide data security than any individual business. Cloud providers have dedicated teams that are specifically tasked with keeping the entire cloud network safe. Most organizations, especially small businesses, don’t have the resources to stay on the cutting edge of network security. Even a robust internal IT team would have trouble matching the security capabilities of a cloud host, as security is just one aspect of an in-house IT team’s responsibility.

Also, it’s important to remember that your internal security protocols are only as strong as your weakest user. System users (people) are the greatest weakness to a secured system. Keeping sensitive information off your local servers can actually protect your business from an accidental breach, employee theft or corporate espionage.

The Final Case

Is cloud hosting right for absolutely everyone? Probably not. However, the scalability, flexibility and security of the cloud makes it an attractive and affordable choice for small and medium-sized businesses.

If you’d like to know more about how cloud hosting can help your business, give BITS a call. Our IT security experts can provide a professional analysis of your vulnerabilities and network needs.

By | 2018-11-27T08:59:04+00:00 October 30th, 2018|Hosting Services, IT Services|

Cloud IT Services and Security

Is Cloud-based Computing as Secure as Server Hosting?

Security questions have hounded cloud services since their inception. But, is the cloud an inherently less secure method of computing than in-house servers? The answer differs depending on who you ask.

A 2014 study by the information security-focused Ponemon Institute found that about half (51%) of IT security practitioners had concerns about their organizations’ ability to secure data and applications hosted in the cloud. Understandably, these concerns provide enough justification for some organizations to avoid using the cloud.

However, other IT experts contend that the cloud’s out-sized security vulnerability is a myth. In fact, they argue that security of cloud-based services is often better because of industry standards governing data centers. In majority of cases, they say, what threatens the security of the cloud is the same thing that threatens in-house IT infrastructure — the users.

So, perhaps, the debate should be reframed. Maybe the question isn’t “How secure is the cloud?”. Maybe what you should be asking is “How good are my data security protocols?” and “How well does my team understand them?”.

These are much bigger questions. But, ones that are likely to result in a better approach to data security and risk management. Putting cloud-specific security concerns aside and thinking about your data network holistically allows you to zero in on your organization’s unique IT management needs.

The Public Cloud

Over 70% of the world’s businesses rely at least in part on services based in the cloud. These services offer some serious advantages for data storage and website hosting, not the least of which is cost effectiveness.

Cloud services are easy to access, customizable to your organization’s structure and adaptable to changing needs. When you host your website on the cloud, there’s no need to buy and configure expensive servers. There’s no need to hire a large IT staff for the purpose of server maintenance. And, you can also scale up quickly, in case your website traffic spikes unexpectedly (yay!).

Services delivered via the cloud tend to have extensive security measures, including change management — the ability to track system and data changes within a computer network. You can also restrict access to sensitive data streams to designated personnel.

That adds up to a fairly convincing business case. So, why do some organizations insist on building out their own extensive IT infrastructure?

The Case for In-house Servers

The bottom line is, you lose a measure of control the second your data leaves your network. Even if that data is stored on a very secure server in a tightly controlled data center, there’s a possibility that you could lose access unexpectedly.

Additionally, some industries carry stringent requirements for data management that can impact IT infrastructure decisions. If you work with the military or the intelligence community, for example, you may be restricted from relying on servers based in other countries. If you’re a hospital or a doctor’s office, there are legal obligations that come with storing patient records electronically. In both cases, the choice to use secure, in-house servers may be perceived as more prudent.

Lots of things happen that we cannot control. When and if they do, proximity to the physical location of your data can be an advantage. For this reason, organizations large and small, sometimes choose to keep their data network in-house.

Beacon is Here to Help

Whether you’re looking to streamline your IT infrastructure, or need expert assistance supporting your in-house data processing and storage, Beacon IT Services (BITS) has the technical know-how you need. Have questions or concerns? Give our experienced team a call at 336.265.2700.

By | 2018-06-19T10:50:11+00:00 June 19th, 2018|Hosting Services, IT Services|