IT Support - A Complete Solution



IT Support – A Complete Solution Part 3

In the last two weeks we’ve discussed several important elements to a complete IT solution.  Help desk solutions, monitoring and alerting, strategic IT planning, and IT reporting have all been called out.  This week we’ll be turning our attention to patch management and backup solutions, and discussing why each is important and the different solutions available.

Patch Management

Patch management at it’s most basic level is essentially ensuring that all Microsoft security patches to the windows operating system are applied in a timely manner with the least amount of disruption possible.  Different IT firms do this in drastically different ways.  Some firms just set it to automatic update and hope everything is good.  This can cause potential problems when patches cause conflicts with existing software or systems.  Machines can also be turned off, or have other issues that prevent patches from being applied.  This can cause significant security concerns.

Other firms will manually go to each machine and apply patches.  This gives you control over what is applied and when.  It also allows you to keep track of which machines have been patched and catch potential problems that arise.  The downside is that it can take an enormous amount of man hours.  If you calculate the time involved with a patch time of 10 min per machine, it would take IT over 66 hours per month for an organization of 100 users.  The cost of that if you’re paying hourly is enormous.  If you have in house IT staff its still expensive because it prevents your IT staff from taking care of more productive activities.

i.t.NOW tries to do patches smarter.  We leverage a solution for remote monitoring and management that automates all patches and updates.  It allows us to have total control with the least amount of man hours.  We apply patches in the middle of the night so that productivity isn’t effected during the day.  In addition we vet all patches in a test environment to ensure they won’t cause conflicts.  We roll them out in a strategic manner with “test” machines in each network that receive patches.  i.t.NOW can also provide detailed reporting to our clients about the status of their patches at any time.

Backup Solutions

Every backup solution should start with a discussion of your requirements for RTO (Recovery Time Objective) and RPO (Recovery Point Objective).  These can vary by business depending on the sensitivity of your data, business processes, time to order, and other critical metrics.  They key here is to make sure that you align your backup solution with your business need.

For example:  If you have 100 employees working on your network that each generate $500 in value for your business each day.  In one 24 hour period that means that you have $50,000 output.  If you’re down for a day, that’s how much it costs.  (This is a simplified example that doesn’t calculate lost sales, damage to your brand, inability to service your clients etc.)  If that outage extends to 2 or 3 days or two or 3 weeks you can do simple math to figure out how much it will cost you.

Armed with some basic ideas about the cost of downtime you’re better equipped to select a solution that will minimize it.  If an outage costs you $50,000/day it makes a lot of sense to spend a few hundred dollars a month for a solution that will allow you to recover within a few minutes of a disaster.  It also makes sense to have an offsite copy of that data in case a disaster really strikes.

A good backup solution in this scenario would be to have image based backups stored locally on a server, and to have that data pushed offsite.  i.t.NOW deploys backup solutions that allow for fast recovery.  We can essentially go to an image based backup and hit play.  Your server is recovered in the time it takes to boot the server.  That same image based backup data is pushed offsite.  We can offer premium offsite options where you have the ability to spin up your servers in the cloud in the case of a disaster.  We also offer economy offsite storage for a couple of pennies per GB that securely stores you data.  Just takes longer to get things back up with the economy solution.

If you haven’t had a discussion with your IT provider about what would happen if your server blew up, than you may not be as prepared as you should be.  There is a lot that can be done to mitigate risk from hardware failure, human error, and even malware such as cryptolocker.  The best backup solutions will take into account all the distinctions that make your data unique, and be designed to meet your specific goals.

i.t.NOW is here to help.  With industry leading backup solutions, backup monitoring, and real time backup reporting, you can have peace of mind knowing your data is safe.  Give us a call today for a free backup and disaster recovery consultation.

Next week we’ll conclude this series on a complete IT Support Solution with a discussion of IT security as well as system administration.  Hope to see all our faithful readers there.