3 Reasons Why Manufacturers in CT Need to Stop Buying Hardware

In the world of business, success boils down to how prepared you are to meet the challenges that you may face in the future. It’s a simple concept that is true regardless of the industry you’re operating in and is something that many companies turn to technology to help them handle. Though it may seem logical to rely on hardware to meet those needs, this isn’t actually the path that many should follow, particularly in the modern era. There are a number of essential reasons why manufacturers in CT need to stop buying hardware and focus their efforts elsewhere.

Hardware and the Future

Again, part of being successful involves the steps that you take today to prepare yourself for the future. That future is not hardware and hasn’t been for over a decade now. Technology is firmly shifting towards a future where automation and the cloud are the “new norm”. In ten years (even as soon as five), there isn’t even going to be hardware that you can buy. You’ll have to replace everything you already have with more sophisticated, modern solutions. Getting started sooner is much better than later.

Scalability

Another one of the major reasons why manufacturers need to stop buying hardware comes down to the simple fact that hardware by its very nature is NOT scalable. Hardware takes so much time to invest, install, configure and maintain that by the time you start using it, it’s probably going to be obsolete. It’s certainly not the “magic bullet” you’ve been looking for to help you grow your business. How are you supposed to continue to expand and evolve if the hardware you rely on daily can’t do the same?

Efficiency to the Extreme

It’s important that business professionals come to terms with the fact that by dropping hardware solutions and moving into the cloud (or at the very least, into the world of automation), they’re making a decision that can literally save their business.

By putting the full force of your technology into the cloud, you gain equal computing efficiency for multiple locations. Sharing data, collaborating and even communicating between two or more offices doesn’t just become easier, it becomes effortless. It’s also less likely that a single physical event (like an earthquake or other natural disasters, or even a fire or a robbery) can damage your business in the type of way that it might never recover from.

All business professionals need to have one eye fixed firmly on the future at all times. Those who already are can tell you without hesitation that the future of IT is moving away from hardware solutions to a cloud-based and automated reality. The future is one where automation and the cloud put all companies on equal footing, which is why manufacturers in CT need to move away from hardware as soon as they can.

Key Takeaways:

  • Information Technology is trending away from hardware and into the world of automation and the cloud.
  • Hardware isn’t scalable in the way that the modern business demands and doesn’t allow companies to prepare for the future of tomorrow.

Local IT Support – The Importance of a Business Continuity Plan

Although you do everything in your power to prevent catastrophes, every business is at risk of experiencing an IT issue. Because of these significant risks and their possible implications, it is important to prepare a solid contingency plan that incorporates local IT support.

How to Prepare for Disaster

Few businesses are prepared to continue operating after a true IT catastrophe. In fact, for many businesses, a single incident can even lead to the failure of the business altogether. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t think about the implications of these situations until after they have already occurred. By this time, the damage is already done.

In order to prevent significant loss, it is important to develop a tried and true plan for IT catastrophes in advance. This plan will detail the steps you should take if an issue occurs, and it will make provisions that allow you to recover from the incident quickly.

Although you may never need to use this plan, having it ensures that you can get your business back up and running as soon as possible in the event of a disaster. On the other hand, if you are not planning for this type of situation, your business is vulnerable.

Disaster Recovery versus Business Continuity Planning

When planning for a potential disaster, you can create a plan that falls under the heading of “disaster recovery” or “business continuity planning.” With a disaster recovery plan, you are able to get your business back up and running after a catastrophe, but you will experience a period of downtime in which you won’t be able to operate normally.

With a business continuity plan, on the other hand, you have provisions in place that prevent you from experiencing any downtime in the event of a catastrophe. Instead, you can continue to operate normally throughout the recovery process.

In general, business continuity planning is preferable to disaster recovery. While both types of plans can help you get back on your feet after a disaster, you will suffer far less complications and losses with a business continuity plan.

Why Choose a Local Company?

When a disaster occurs, local companies are more likely to get a phone call than a company far away. These local companies have an advantage over other companies because they can send on-site personnel to deal with a situation quickly, which minimizes your company’s downtime.

Thus, as you create your business continuity plan, it is best to incorporate local companies as sources of potential IT support. Local IT support ensures that you receive the help you need immediately in the event of a problem.

Key Takeaways

  • IT disasters can happen to any company, but business continuity planning can help to minimize your losses.
  • Local companies are better at providing support in the event of an emergency. Thus, business continuity plans should incorporate local IT support.
  • Local companies are better at providing support in the event of an emergency. Thus, business continuity plans should incorporate local IT support.

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The Importance of Business Continuity for Small Businesses

The importance of business continuity for small businesses is something that cannot be overstated. Many people incorrectly assume that just because they have a disaster recovery plan in place, business continuity will essentially take care of itself. This is incorrect. Though these two concepts are admittedly similar, they are very different in intent and execution and should be treated as such for a number of important reasons.

What Is a Business Continuity Plan?

At its core, a business continuity plan is one that allows an organization to continue to operate in the event of a serious incident or disaster. Where a disaster recovery plan helps them rebuild after that disaster has taken place, continuity allows them to maintain operations – even in the event of the unexpected.

Why Business Continuity Matters

To understand precisely why business continuity is so important for small businesses, think for a moment about how large organizations operate. When a large business has a fault, a failure or some other type of critical issue, more often than not it usually only affects a small subset of their environment. They have a lot of redundant systems in place that may seem unnecessary on a day-to-day basis, but when disaster does strike it’s very much welcome.

Small businesses, on the other hand, are a completely different story. When a small business has a failure, it affects the entire business – usually halting production and productivity. A disaster recovery plan can help that small business get back up and running again, but without a solid business continuity plan they’ll have no way to truly pick up right where they left off as if nothing had happened in the first place. At best, it will take a long time to get back to that point during a situation where time is of the essence.

Business Continuity for Small Businesses in Action

It is critical that small businesses have a process in place that allows them to maintain operations, even in the face of adversity. If a business has one server on premise and that server goes down, they’re essentially out of business. At that point, whether the damage is permanent or temporary doesn’t matter – they’re losing money as the seconds tick by.

To continue with that example, a solid continuity solution would be to have one server in the cloud, where it can’t go down. Even if your on-site server suffers a failure, the cloud solution lets you pick right back up where you left off while your disaster recovery plan helps you pick up the pieces elsewhere.

None of this is to say that a business continuity plan will make a small business impenetrable to adversity – that’s why it’s important to also have a disaster recovery plan. But a solid business continuity plan will go a long way towards helping make sure that almost nothing can “sink the ship” in terms of productivity, revenue and more.

Key Takeaways:

  • It is critical for small businesses to understand that business continuity and disaster recovery are not the same thing.
  • Having a continuity solution in place helps small businesses avoid the types of long, unpredictable disruptions that could cost them huge amounts of money or force them out of business.

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Five Mistakes Everyone Makes With Cloud Backup

To say that cloud backup is important is something of an understatement. We’ve reached a point where a business can store an unlimited amount of data in the cloud for safekeeping. In turn, this has ushered in an environment where nobody has to suffer down-time due to hardware failure, user error or catastrophes like floods or fires ever again, right? Unfortunately, not necessarily. There are five key mistakes that many seem to make with cloud backup that are keeping this technology from reaching its full potential.

Cloud Backup Mistakes: Trying to Do It All Yourself

Businesses who try to keep everything in-house to maintain as much control as possible often find themselves coming up short in other areas. Remember: with cloud backup, it’s less about actually backing up and more about your ability to recover. If you try to do everything yourself you’re likely creating a situation where you don’t use the product unless you have a problem, which is actually the exact opposite thing that these solutions were designed to do.

Using a File-Based Backup Solution

The major issue with this mistake is that it depends on your ability to restore files, not a system or infrastructure. If a system fails and you have to reinstall the entire infrastructure, it makes recovery very complicated and time consuming during a situation where every second counts. This is also not something that is possible to do alone or without a team, further complicating things.

Having a False Sense of Security

Another major mistake that many make is thinking that the product is going to work 100% of the time, no exceptions. Unfortunately, technology can be fragile and problems can and will arise. Building in a false sense of security just because you’re using cloud backup only creates a situation where you find out your system doesn’t work when you really need it.

Not Testing at Regular Intervals

Along the same lines, it’s important to understand that all backup, disaster recovery and continuity solutions need to be tested at regular intervals. Whether you’re talking about the cloud or a local solution, there is no getting around this simple fact. Continuity solutions need to be run in production at regular intervals to guarantee they’ll work when you need them. It’s never good enough to say “this will work” – you have to execute things like you would in a real emergency to know for sure.

There is No Documentation in Place

Finally, perhaps the most critical mistake that people make is a lack of documentation. When there is a catastrophic failure, people just don’t know how to react. The disaster recovery and business continuity plans that your cloud backs up are an essential part of your business and must be documented. People need to know how it is going to work, who is responsible for what and where they can get the plan to follow it from “Point A” to “Point B” and beyond.

In the end, these are the types of mistakes that prevent people from realizing the full potential of their cloud deployment. The good news is that many of these can be solved internally and easily – they just require you to understand exactly what you’re dealing with, what it was designed to do and the important role you play in all of it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Many of the common mistakes that everyone makes with the cloud are based on a lack of understanding about what cloud backups actually are.
  • A lack of testing, a false sense of security and no documentation are among the most common mistakes.

Cloud Backup

How Much Data Can You Afford to Lose? Keeping Your Data Backup and Recovery Solutions Up-to-Date

The whole reason that data backup and recovery solutions exist is so that you don’t lose even a kilobyte of mission critical information, even in the wake of the worst disaster your business has ever faced. In many ways, the cloud has ushered in a whole new era in terms of these concepts in a number of fascinating ways.

Data Backup and Recovery Solutions: The Old Days

In an era where everything was still stored locally, businesses would design a data backup and recovery solution based on what they could afford at the time. There were two main terms that they concerned themselves with: RPO or “recovery point objective” and RTO or “recovery time objective.”

The answer to the question “how much data can I afford to lose?” dictated decisions made based on these two factors. Based on the answer to that question, you determine from where do we recover (RPO) and how far back do we recover from (RTO).

The New Model of Data Backup and Recovery

With the cloud and advanced business continuity plans, however, these methods have changed dramatically. Perhaps the most important thing to understand about business continuity, however, is that RPO and RTO do not apply. Business continuity focuses on systems being up as close to 100% of the time as possible. It’s a proactive approach to business protection, instead of the reactive discussion that comes with recovering items you’ve lost.

In the best possible situation, backups occur on a regular basis – as frequently as once every hour. A snapshot of your local environment is created and it’s incredibly simple to recover to that exact point in the event that anything happens.

Staying Up to Date is Critical

None of this matters, however, if your data backup and recovery solutions are not up-to-date. If you’re not keeping regular backups of your entire environment, you’re essentially living by the rules of the old model in a situation where they don’t apply anymore. You’re shooting yourself in the foot in more ways than one. Not only are you making it needlessly difficult to recover from a disaster, but you’re failing to take advantage of a situation where you can literally store an unlimited amount of data in the cloud. You’re artificially limiting your ROI and you’re making it harder to get back up and running again at the same time.

In the end, the true answer to the question of “how much data can you afford to lose?” is – none of it. When storage space was still expensive, you had to be very careful with what you were backing up and how often. Thanks to the cloud, however, this is a moot point. You have access to virtually unlimited recovery points, allowing infinite cloud retention, guaranteeing maximum availability when you need it the most.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cloud-based data backup and recovery solutions allow you to embrace the joys of infinite cloud retention.
  • This means that you can throw a virtually unlimited amount of data in the cloud, guaranteeing that you don’t actually have to ask the question “how much data can I afford to lose?” because the answer will always be “none of it.”

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3 Reasons to Have a Business Continuity Plan

A business continuity plan is designed to do exactly that – preserve your organization’s ability to function, regardless of the challenges you may face at any particular moment. If you think that you can avoid the need for a business continuity plan by just being as “careful as possible,” you probably haven’t been running your own business for very long. In reality, it’s hugely important to have a properly designed business continuity plan for a number of important reasons.

1. A Business Continuity Plan is a Communications Tool

Perhaps the number one reason why it’s important to have a business continuity plan comes down to the simple fact that not everyone will know exactly what they should do in an emergency. When mission critical systems start to fail, time is of the essence. If your business experiences a fire, a robbery, a hack or some other type of disaster, you’ll be facing an “all hands on deck” situation. If every last person isn’t clear on the role they need to play, you don’t have a chance at actually mitigating those risks as much as possible.

Business continuity plans help keep people informed. Based on the role they play within your organization and the skills they bring to the table, they clearly and eloquently communicate exactly what a person should be doing in the event of various types of events that you may face.

2. It’s Proactive

Another one of the major reasons why it’s important to have a business continuity plan has to do with being proactive. Instead of waiting around for trouble to strike and coming up with a plan of attack only after the fact, you can brainstorm possibilities in a low-stakes situation to be as prepared as you can be for when those stakes start to rise.

Besides, there is no downside to taking a proactive approach to the security of your business. Not only does it help to guarantee 99% or higher uptime (as you’ll be ready for nearly all types of issues that might occur), but a little effort now will pay dividends by way of peace-of-mind for years to come.

3. It Can Help Bring You Back from a Disaster

Finally, it’s important to have a business continuity plan simply because when disaster rears its ugly head, your plan is all that you have to help bring things back from the brink as successfully as possible. Not only are you protecting mission-critical areas of your business, but you’re also protecting your business partners (especially in the event of something like a data breach). This in turn helps boost the morale of not only your staff, but your customers and other end users at the same time.

By far, a well-designed and properly tested business continuity plan is one of the most valuable assets that your organization has. When you run a business for any appreciable length of time, it becomes clear that running into major problems isn’t a question of “if,” but “when.” If you accept that to be true, a business continuity plan is your best chance to successfully answer the question “what now?” before you pass the point of no return.

Key Takeaways:

  • Business continuity plans protect your business partners, your staff and ultimately your customers.
  • Business continuity plans allow you to take a proactive approach to getting ready for the challenges of tomorrow.

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When Should I Outsource My IT Department?

Outsourcing your IT department isn’t just a passing fad – it’s something that small and medium-sized businesses in particular are experimenting with for a variety of important reasons. Not only does it allow you to put the infrastructure in place that you need to give yourself a competitive advantage today, but it’s also essentially “future-proofing” your IT department to make sure you’re ready for tomorrow, too.

If you find yourself constantly asking the question “when should I outsource my IT department?”, you’ll want to watch out for a few key signs.

When to Outsource My IT Department: The Scale Factor

One of the most important reasons why you’ll want to outsource your IT department has to do with meeting ever-changing demands as your business continues to grow. When most companies break the threshold of roughly 500 users, outsourcing part or even all of their IT needs becomes a best practice.

The reason is because user networks of this size tend to be prohibitively complex. They have more vulnerabilities and need a different kind of attention to make them work properly. Rather than bring in additional IT staff to meet those needs (which means additional salaries, benefits packages, etc.), outsourcing can be a great way to meet demand without raising costs.

You Get Access to Dedicated Professionals

When you have your own in-house IT staff, each employee is constantly getting pulled in countless directions depending on the day. This can lead certain mission-critical yet small tasks like updates or routine maintenance to fall by the wayside. If this is happening to your organization, outsourcing is something you’ll want to at least consider.

Without a firm that is prepared to handle your IT challenges exclusively, it’s actually more expensive to manage your network, guarantee constant uptime, and enable your employees to do work uninterrupted.

You Gain Years of Experience Instantly

Keeping up with the technology curve essentially requires your own IT employees to be learning constantly. This can get prohibitively expensive, especially when you consider training and ongoing education. Outsourcing, on the other hand, provides you with a professional firm that knows everything inside and out. You have unfettered access to a breadth of skills that would otherwise be either incredibly difficult to find or impossibly expensive to hire internally. Simply put, with outsourcing, these concerns just don’t exist any longer.

While it is true that outsourcing your IT department does require you to give up a certain level of control, what you get back in return is something you just can’t put a price on. You can scale up and down easier as needed. Everything becomes less expensive to manage. More than anything, you get access to the type of professional firm that knows everything inside and out in a way that you’d never be able to manage on your own.

Key Takeaways:

  • One of the most common signs that it might be time to outsource your IT department is when you break the threshold of 500 users.
  • Another sign that it might be time to outsource your IT department is when the cost of managing everything in-house starts eating into your return on investment.

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3 Things A Business Continuity Plan Protects Against

The importance of having a properly designed, properly tested and regularly updated business continuity plan is something that cannot be overstated. Business disruptions will occur in various sizes and shapes and business continuity plans help make sure that regardless of what life happens to throw at you and your employees today, you’ll be able to respond to it and keep moving without missing a beat.

If you really want to understand why a business continuity plan is important, you’ll want to start researching some of the host of unique threats that they can help protect you from.

Business Continuity Plans Protect Against Ransomware

One of the most important types of threats that business continuity plans can help protect against is also one of the most common cybersecurity threats these days: ransomware. Ransomware is a particularly nasty type of malware that encrypts the files on an infected computer’s hard drive, essentially holding data for ransom unless you pay a fee to your attacker.

If your business continuity plan includes daily incremental or full backups, however, ransomware is no match for your organization. If a computer is infected or compromised, you can simply restore back to the point before the breach occurred and pick up right where you left off.

The Dreaded User Error

People joke about user error all the time, but when more and more business systems are becoming digitized, you’re facing one of the most costly threats of the modern era. Make no mistake: it is very possible for users to accidentally delete, disrupt or otherwise ruin data or processes that are stored on all machines. Taking this into account in your business continuity plan helps to make sure that all of your data is stored safely off-site and that it can be restored relatively easily.

Physical Disruptions of Service

Theft. Natural disasters. Fires. These are things that are very real possibilities that you cannot anticipate. Anything that might damage the physical location your business operates from might disrupt the work you’re trying to do – end of story. With effective business continuity plans in place, however, the location becomes less important. Access to mission-critical tools is something that you can obtain anywhere, making sure that your data and infrastructure isn’t compromised along with your business.

These are just a few of the many, many different types of threats that a business continuity plan will protect against. Remember that you can try as hard as you’d like, but risk isn’t something you’ll be able to completely remove from your business. A business continuity plan will help make sure that when incidents happen the nuts and bolts of your business don’t come crumbling down around you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Business continuity plans allow you to take a proactive approach to the future health and well-being of your business.
  • Ransomware, user error and physical disruptions of service are all very real examples of the important threats business continuity plans protect against.

Business Continuity

How Cloud Computing Can Strengthen Small Business Disaster Recovery

A business continuity plan is exactly that – a tried, true and tested plan for what must be done in the immediate aftermath of a disaster in order to get things back up and running as smoothly as possible. A solid business continuity plan allows for minimum disruption, limited productivity impacts and more or less allows work to continue without skipping a beat.

Thanks to the power of cloud computing, these plans are poised to get even stronger for small businesses, in particular moving forward.

Geography

Because cloud computing is based on the concept of virtualization, a business continuity plan now takes on a whole new meaning. If everything were backed up on-site, you could easily restore all of your mission-critical systems after a disaster – provided you have access to that hardware.

But, what happens if your entire place of business burns to the ground? With cloud computing, a server that was already virtual in the first place can be easily copied to an offsite data center to help make sure this type of thing doesn’t happen.

Faster Recovery Times

Another way that cloud computing can strengthen small business disaster recovery comes by way of significantly faster recovery times in the first place. One of the primary goals of any plan isn’t just to “resume normal business,” but to “resume normal business as quickly as possible.”

With cloud computing, every last piece of mission-critical data is essentially ready to be accessed via a new system at all times thanks to the fact that it was stored on remote servers accessible via the Internet in the first place. With cloud computing, a small business could successfully execute their entire business continuity plan in a matter of minutes.

Costs

These two benefits lead into perhaps the most important one of all for small businesses: costs. Every minute that your business is recovering from a disaster instead of working is a minute that you’re losing money. The downstream effects of a lengthy business continuity plan aren’t just significant, but they’re also long-lasting. Cloud computing allows everything to be a part of your plan – including things like email – so that it can be recovered and utilized as fast as possible. All types of disruptions across all types of devices are no match thanks to what cloud computing brings to the table.

If the foundation of any business resets with its disaster recovery and business continuity plan, cloud computing stands to make that foundation stronger than ever. Not only does it maximize the efficiency and ultimate security of this process, but it makes it easier to pick right back up where you left off at the exact same time. Business’ that embrace a cloud computing-backed business continuity plan with open arms will find it easier than ever to overcome the challenges of today – and tomorrow.

Key Takeaways:

  • Business disaster recovery plans allow businesses to get back up and running as quickly as possible in the event of a disaster.
  • With cloud computing, that plan is no longer hardware or geography dependent, making it much more versatile and comprehensive overall.

Image Backups: Does Time Travel Really Exist?

If Michael Crichton taught us anything, it’s that time travel almost always comes with a cost. One minute you’re jumping backwards in time, attempting to undo some past wrong that you’ve created and get a second chance on the life you always wanted. The next minute, you’re fighting side by side with knights in the Middle Ages because figuring out how time travel is supposed to work is a little above your pay grade.

While time travel has been the stuff of science fiction for just about as long as science fiction has been around, there is (more or less) a form of time travel that is very much science fact – image backups. As far as your hard drive is concerned, image backups are one of the best ways to jump backwards in time whenever the need arises – which is pretty crazy, to say the least.

The Ransomware Conundrum

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of ransomware, congratulations – this means you haven’t fallen victim to one of the most devastating cyber attacks of the last few years. At least, not yet (don’t worry – statistically, you probably will).

When a computer is infected with ransomware, a rogue piece of software essentially encrypts all data on its hard drive, making it inaccessible without the proper decryption key. As you’ve probably already guessed, that decryption key becomes available only after you’ve paid a hacker an annoyingly large sum of money – and even then, it isn’t a guarantee.

Now, imagine that you could just hit the reset button instead. With one click of your mouse, you could both recover all of those compromised files.

This is the power that image backups have to offer. An image backup is an exact duplicate of your computer’s hard drive at the exact moment that it was created, meaning that you never have to worry about ransomware, user error and everything in between ever again. Those files are safe and secure, ready to be restored to get you back up and running again at a moment’s notice.

While time travel may be a long way off (or a short way off, if we understand exactly how time travel is supposed to work), in terms of your digital life, it’s already here. Image backups literally allow you to jump backwards in time, going back to a certain point to continue from there without all of the String Theory and time travel paradoxes that people like Marty McFly, Wolverine and Michael Crichton have to deal with.

Key Takeaways:

  • Time travel may not exist officially yet (that we know of, anyway), but with the power of image backups, it essentially does in terms of your virtual life.
  • Image backups allow you to hit the “reset” button on everything from one bad day to user error, completely picking up like nothing ever happened and giving you the second chance you never had.