How COVID-19 Has Changed Business IT

It has been a long few months as we have all struggled with the effects of COVID-19 and subsequent shelter in place orders.  It has changed our lives in many ways, and IT is no exception.  When looking at your business IT solution here are some things to consider.

Backups

Most backup solutions are designed to handle local disasters.  A server crash, a corrupted OS, or something of that nature.  They start with the assumption that data is centralized on the server.  COVID has brought to light potential gaps in those solutions.

IT teams have to shift their focus and not only plan for the local disasters as they did previously, but also implement solutions to backup data that may now be scattered across many laptops and desktops.

Ideally, all users would connect via VPN or some other secure method and continue to save data on the server as before.  However, in practice we have seen that many users are unfamiliar with work from home technologies and instead of asking for assistance, they simply default to saving things locally on whatever device they are working on.

This can cause multiple iterations of the same documents, which can make collaboration difficult.  It can also become a huge problem if the data that user is saving locally has no backup.

IT teams should evaluate how COVID-19 has changed their work processes and if data is now being saved in new places.  If it is, they should work to put solutions in place to close those gaps immediately.

Service Problems

Many service providers will outsource some part of their helpdesk infrastructure to India.  (Just for the record i.t.NOW’s staff is 100% Utah based.)  Many of these providers have not been set up to work remotely and struggled greatly with their response times as a result.  A recent article on CIO.com commented on the challenges they have been facing.

“Especially in offshore locations, much of the workforce has not previously been set up for this work-from-home scenario, presenting new tactical and operational challenges, including getting laptops to service provider personnel; setting up VPN, VDI, and/or Citrix access; ensuring WiFi is available; and providing the requisite security software applications,” says David Rutchik, executive managing director at Pace Harmon.

Service delivery challenges have caused many US firms that are currently leveraging support organizations that have part or all of their staff offshore to explore local options.  If your organization currently works with offshore IT, it might be time to look for local US based solutions.

Security

There are bunches of security concerns that come with a remote workforce.  They need secure access to data on the work network.  You can accomplish that with VPN, terminal server, VDI, Citrix etc.  Some organizations have additional security compliance needs that regulate how to handle data.

You should be aware of what data you users have saved on what devices.  If any of that data is sensitive, you must train users on proper security protocols for how to store and manage it.

In addition, some security protocols necessitate items like screenshotting functionality, USB ports, and printing are disabled.  Many organizations have them disabled by default in the office.  Are those same safeguards in place for users working at home?

COVID-19 related phishing attacks have also been prevalent.  Users should be educated about what to look out for and how to protect themselves.

Multifactor authentication is a great solution to add a layer of security to your business.  This can be especially helpful to secure data for workers when they are remote.  Consider adding this to your security plan if you have not already done so.

Cloud Solutions

Another change that we have seen over the last few months has been clients looking to move workloads to the cloud.  The ease of access and security the cloud offers seem to be the main draws.  Many businesses that have been toying with the idea of migrating to the cloud have decided to take the plunge.

These solutions from hosted servers to SAS applications offer users the convenience of being able to access work data from anywhere on any device via a web browser.  SAS applications have seen an uptick especially with database driven applications.  This is partially because most database driven applications do not perform well over a VPN, and partially because of ease of use.

The cloud is here to stay.  Business owners should evaluate their current solutions and see if any of the applications or data they currently house locally could be moved to the cloud for easier access.

Summary

COVID-19 has changed many things about how we work and think.  The IT solutions we are using need to change with us.  i.t.NOW is here to help.  Give us a call today if you want to discuss options for working from home or a cloud migration.  We love to consult with businesses and find them the best solutions to their challenges.