|Knowledge is power. Get a quick jolt here.
Even if your network is small, you probably have dozens of
unanswered questions about the best ways to manage and protect
it. Knowing and understanding your environment -- and the threats
to it -- are the keys to getting the most out of your technology
Here are some questions often asked by our clients. Check
out the answers. The information may benefit your company
or flag an area in which you need help. If you have other
questions about your systems or our services, contact
us for a no-cost, no-hassle telephone consultation.
Having an IT Strategy
Q: Because we're growing quickly, our owner has asked
for input regarding an "IT Strategy." No one here has that
experience. What is it and how will it help us?
A: An information technology (IT) strategy is designed
to chart the course for your IT actions and purchases, and
ensure that they are compatible with your business goals, existing network,
your budget and each other. This will help you save money
and plan better. An IT strategy can appear simple, but is
really a comprehensive document based on specific knowledge
of your business, culture and goals, and of the IT industry.
Effective Anti-virus Procedures
Q: I've heard that a dozen new viruses are discovered
each week. Is that true? If so, how can we possibly protect
A: Yes, approximately a dozen new viruses are added
each week to the tens of thousands of viruses already identified.
To protect your network against this growing threat, you should
install anti-virus software on every workstation and ensure
that the virus definitions are up-to-date at all times.
Installing a Firewall
Q: What is a firewall and why do I need one?
A: A firewall is hardware or software designed to protect
your network from hacker attacks. A firewall shields your
network by "hiding" your internal workstations and by blocking
unauthorized attempts to communicate with them or take control
Other Security Measures
Q: A virus recently crashed several of our computers.
We had a firewall installed and now run anti-virus software
regularly. Still, we're not sure it's enough. What other precautions
A: While a firewall and anti-virus software are necessary
tools to protect your network, they must be kept current with
service packs, security patches and the latest virus definitions.
Critical data must be backed up frequently, and you should
have a disaster recovery plan (DRP). Also, all servers should
be protected from power fluctuations by an uninterruptible
power supply (UPS).
Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)
Q: We back up frequently, store tapes offsite and have
an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in place. Aren't we
pretty well covered for most disasters?
A: You've taken the appropriate first steps. But now's
the time to consider other investments, policies and procedures
that will help ensure your company's viability through a range
of business interruptions. All of this should be documented
in a DRP that is periodically updated and tested.
Q: Some recent problems were traced to a server that
was low on disk space and to something the technician called
"dirty" power. Is there a way to know about problems like
these before they happen?
A: Yes, through regular system monitoring you can track
your usage of server disk space and memory, network capacity
and other resources. You can use this information to determine
when to upgrade your system or take preventive action. With
the right uninterruptible power supply (UPS) and appropriate
software, you can even track the quality of the power coming
from the electrical outlet.
Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
Q: Our owner thinks the days of rolling blackouts are
over. Others of us aren't convinced. Do we still need a UPS?
A: Yes, a UPS should be installed for every server
and configured to automatically (and gracefully) shut down
the server during a prolonged power outage to safeguard your
company's data. In addition, a UPS will protect your server
from power sags and spikes, and will provide a history of
your power's "cleanliness."
Keeping a Hardware and Software
Q: We have so many desktop PCs. Having someone go around
checking disk drives, software versions, RAM, etc., would
take forever. Is it really necessary?
A: Having an accurate inventory is vital to ensuring
compliance with software licensing agreements and to accounting
for your fixed assets. It is also very helpful in troubleshooting
and in preparing an IT strategy. There are many software
tools to gather and maintain this information automatically.
Understanding Industry Certifications
Q: Some consultants have a bunch of letters
after their names. What do the letters mean and which ones
are most important to our company?
A: Many manufacturers have established testing programs
to certify consultants who work with their products. Consultants
often identify their certifications with the "alphabet soup"
you've seen behind their names. For best results, find someone
who is certified in the products you use in your network environment.
For Microsoft products, your consultant should have a Microsoft certification such as an MCP,
+ I, or MCSE
Reseller vs. Non-Reseller
Q: What's the difference between an IT consultant who
is a reseller and one who is a non-reseller?
A: An IT consultant who is authorized to resell hardware
and software from certain manufacturers has a built-in bias
and incentive to sell those products. A consultant who is
not a reseller has no such allegiance and works solely as
your advocate in recommending the best solutions without profiting
from your purchases.