When it comes to finding the right equipment for your employees or new hires, where do you start? There are so many different options when it comes to IT hardware that it can seem overwhelming. We’ve outlined some helpful steps so that you can find the right fit for your employees.
First, you want to look at the form factors and find out which of the below 3 works best for your business.
Laptop or Microsoft Surface Machines
The mobile form factor can be used for several different types of employees. If they are an employee that will be at their desk all day but require a workstation when they go home, a larger laptop with a docking station at the desk might be a better option than a smaller laptop or surface.
The larger size will normally be cheaper and provide a larger screen when working at home. If they are a sales rep or always on the go then the surface might be a better option because if it’s light weight and battery life.
Desktop computers are going to be your cheapest option so I always recommend to really asses the employees role and see if having a stationary machine will work for them. You can get the same or better specs as a laptop at half the cost. These workstations work well for customer service reps, general office employees and most administrative positions.
If you’re looking to keep your costs lower, these will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Thin Clients are not typically something you would see in a small business but they do have a role within some organizations.
So what is a thin client? A thin client is a client designed to be especially small so that the bulk of the data processing occurs on the server. Due to its size, there isn’t a hard drive disk on the client and very minimal specifications. There are benefits to having thin clients in your organization like reduced energy bills, simplified management for your IT department, enhanced security, and increased productivity.
However, these types of networks take quite a bit to setup and maintain. You will find that you will require a full IT staff to correctly maintain the hardware which will be added costs in salaries and benefits.
The server becomes the single point of failure and terminal servers are required to be replaced every 3 to 5 years.
From a user perspective, there is a learning curve with administering thin clients and terminal servers, and will require more training for the employees who will be using these.
Some business owners believe that thin clients are more cost effective than standard desktops, however, this isn’t the case anymore.
After deciding the best form factors for your employees, you want to take a look at what is inside the machine.
Do you require a CD/DVD drive?
In today’s time you can probably get by without a CD/DVD drive, but if you still have some legacy programs that require a CD it is still very inexpensive to have this feature.
How much memory will you need?
Memory or RAM is what allows your computer to do multiple things at once quickly, it holds programs in a temporary memory for quick access. If you plan to be doing a lot of things at once then the more the better. Rule of thumb is to get 8GB of RAM at the minimum.
How much hard drive space?
Today the typical size is 500GB, if you have a server and require people to store information there then this should be plenty. In most cases 500GB will be enough unless you are working with very large data. If that’s the case, look at a solution with more than 500GB of hard drive space.
How big of a CPU do your employees need?
In today’s market you really have to choose between I5 and I7 processors. The I7 of course is better but may not always be for you, i5 will be more in laptops, if you are using any software that is very process heavy the i5 is enough.
Do you require dual monitors?
For me this is a must and once you have 2 monitors it will be for you too. Some employees who work simultaneously in programs will most likely need dual monitors, while those employees in admin roles might only require one.
Altogether, choosing the right hardware for your employees is essential in order for your staff to be the more productive and efficient during their work day.
You probably keep hearing that you need to get a better firewall for your business? However, you might not fully grasp what a firewall is or the benefits it has on your company’s infrastructure.
I like to call firewalls the gate keeper of your network – in short, it encompasses all sorts of things like:
- First line of defense against outside attackers.
- Prevents your computers from connecting directly to the internet.
- Stops employees from browsing non-work related websites.
But on a deeper level, it routes traffic from outside sources to computers and servers on your network.
When you travel or work remotely, a firewall that is configured correctly is what allows you to access your data while away at the office (VPN, or external facing sites your company has).
The firewall is, in my opinion, the most important piece of equipment your company will invest in.
A cheap firewall lacks the features to protect your company’s data and devices. However, I don’t usually recommend the most expensive firewall for our clients.
The biggest key feature for IT professionals in general is the threat management system and how a firewall detects and mitigates those threats.
Did you know that BP fights off 50,000 cyber-attacks a day?
I recently had a conversation with the CEO of an Energy Investment company that stated, “We are small, no one is going to want our data and even if they did what would they do with it.”
While this response is very common amongst small and medium sized businesses – cyber criminals don’t really want your data. They get affirmation from hacking into your network and can then control your computers to help them gain access to other networks.
Even if the data is sensitive, the firewall could be the matter of allowing your customer data to be leaked or not. It’s a small insurance policy for your company to invest in.
In today’s connected world, it’s not if you are going to be attacked by cyber criminals but when.
When it comes to your business nothing else matters but being able to provide your products or services to your clients. When I talk to business owners the one key factor that keeps coming up is what happens if your network crashes, your internet goes down or some malicious ransom-ware like Crypto-locker infects your system. Those items are more likely to happen than a natural disaster (flooding, tornado, hurricane, etc.) Most of these companies have backups of their data that’s stored either on their servers or old clunky LTO tapes on site.
Let’s go through a scenario, its 10am on a Wednesday and everything is working fine, your company has a major deal in the works and then the fear hits. Your network has just shut-down for reasons unknown. Everything you had worked on was on the network and now it’s inaccessible. You call your IT Company or IT person to get this resolved as soon as possible. They go through the typical steps to try and mitigate the problem. The IT guys tell you that they need to restore the data and need to get the tapes out of storage. Now, you wait. Could be minutes, could be hours or even days to get the data restored depending on the type and size of data that was lost. This is one of the main reasons Why Tape storage is a dying technology!
In today’s IT world more and more backup admins and IT companies are now pushing their companies to a BDR solution.
A Backup and Disaster Recovery solution is a game changing aspect for companies in the sense of business continuity. A BDR solution has varying levels of abilities and service. In a simple description, you are able to backup all of your data as you did before with an in-house server. That server can in turn replicate to the cloud, allowing your business to operate from anywhere with an internet connection.
Quorum’s quick 5min demo of how they are able to give you complete business continuity, whether you have a complete internet or systems failure you can be assured that you can be up and running as if nothing ever happened. Your network outage just became a trip to the nearest internet connection.
The next problem when I have offered this suggestion to business owners is, WOW that sounds great!
But, it also sounds expensive.
They are right, to get a system like this you will pay a little more on the front end. But when each client takes into account the cost of an outage that include things like salaries, potential deals, potential products sales, services lost, resources lost and recreating all of the lost data, they understand the value of a complete backup and disaster recovery solution.
If you aren’t backing up your data, it could end your business when you experience an outage. With any backup technology whether its tapes, another server, or a Backup and Disaster Recovery solution you are purchasing insurance for your data.
Finding the best antivirus protection might seem overwhelming with all of the different options available. However, if you are running a business, the last thing you need slowing you down is a virus running rampant throughout your IT infrastructure and putting your assets at risk.
Do you ever think, “I’d be so much more productive if I invested in a typewriter?”
Surely, you’re laughing, but I can remember visiting my grandparent’s office as a child and the only things on their desk were:
- A desk calendar.
- One of those really cool calculators that made receipts.
- AND a really dusty typewriter.
There were no computers and the term Wi-Fi hadn’t been coined. However, because their customers, vendors and competitors didn’t have computers and cellphones, they weren’t missing out on anything.
It’s impressive how far businesses have come in the past 30 years because of the ever-changing technology. Imagine going to work and not having a computer, or email, or internet. It would be a very long day.
Today, an average household has 5 connected devices. Because your customers and competitors use technology throughout the entire day, your business has to stay up to speed.
Technology is the driving force behind every business and without it, it’s nearly impossible to conduct your day to day operations. But what’s worse, is when the technology in your business is holding you back from your business goals.
Technology in your business should make you more efficient, save you time and in the end, impact your bottom line in a positive way. Without a secure infrastructure in place, your employees aren’t able to do their job to the best of their ability.
If you find yourself getting frustrated with dealing with your network or find that you are losing precious time during your day waiting on an application to load, it might be time to look into your current IT infrastructure. It’s essential to take the time to invest in your technology to ensure that the technology in your company is working for you and not against you.