I remember the days when desktop computers were still a novelty and anyone who could print in a typeface other than Courier 10 called themselves a desktop publisher. Local area networks were only discussed in big companies with now nostalgic terms like Token Ring and ArcNet. Most business owners never thought about IT as long as they got their financial reports – on paper. And small business systems might go down for as much as a day, producing only mild annoyance.
Now 25 years later, nearly every person in America has at least one personal computer, a mobile device, two dozen user IDs, Internet connected home entertainment systems, and a strong sense of paranoia that someone somewhere is using their personal credit card number to buy a brand new car!
Today, the business owner has to worry about their Internet “presence”, confidentiality of employee and customer data, a bewildering array of data storage environments, operating systems, email applications, and security devices. Minutes of down time can cost companies their reputation, old and new customers, and real dollars. And there is no “Off” switch.
The ability for small businesses to staff and train people with network, storage, application, operating system, and data security skills is nearly impossible – especially since most won’t know whether they have technically proficient people or people who merely think they are technically proficient.
Unless you are big enough to hire experts in all the necessary areas, or lucky enough to stumble upon someone who can recognize such talent, many existing small businesses (and most new businesses of any size), are looking to push all those service level requirements out to providers that have the scale, expertise, and proven track records to guarantee success. Let the service provider take the 2AM phone call!
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of managed services available to the small business or mid-size company that provide the opportunity to push the complexity, capital investment, and service level attainment to a third party service provider for a simple monthly fee. For example, there are many IT issues surrounding file and email archiving. A significant amount of know-how is required to archive data efficiently and securely. Additionally, a large number of companies don’t even know their backups aren’t working correctly until they try to recover something or experience litigation. Not fun.
No matter what IT strategy you pursue, one thing is clear: “do-it- yourself” is great for new hinges and lighting fixtures, but is very risky when it comes to business critical applications and IT infrastructures.
The IT landscape is forever changing. To better accommodate these advancements, it’s imperative for a business to develop an adaptable strategy that accommodates change. IT outsourcing just makes good business sense. It can effectively save time and money, allowing you to concentrate on growing your business.
Leave IT to the experts so you can better prepare yourself for change the future is sure to bring.
Daniel S. Milburn, CISSP
SVP, COO of Hosting & Infrastructure Services