We see part of our role as a managed IT support provider to research and where appropriate recommend, software, hardware and online services within the strategic IT roadmaps that we provide to our clients. With budget planning for the new year underway for many, the more forward thinking of our clients want to know what they should be building into their IT expenditure to increase efficiency and productivity. Coupled with an ever growing threat to security, particularly to SME’s, we have come up with a list of recommendations for the next budget period.
OKTA. Primarily this does two things. Firstly, and the reason users love it in our experience, is that you can login in once to OKTA and then access nearly all of your other online services without having to enter another password all day – see Single Sign-On – the power of 1. Secondly, it significantly improves password security across your computer, email and a whole host of common online services by using two factor authentication. We have recently adopted it in-house at Priority One and have not looked back. Our first client installation also had a similar response. There is a material improvement to both productivity and security.
Corporate Dropbox. Provides very simple, highly accessible, file sharing across the whole company and is accessible from any device. Even those companies that have their own hosted file servers with VPN access, can’t beat the simplicity, convenience and time saving of using this product from almost anywhere. Cost versus time saved makes it an easy decision.
Windows 2012 server. If you’re still using 2003 Server, you may want to consider upgrading as it will not be supported by Microsoft from 2015. However, the main reason we recommend it, no matter what previous version you’re running, is that the built-in deduplication features provide as much as a 40% saving in storage capacity. Thus, depending on each company’s storage requirements, the upgrade can pay for itself extremely quickly.
Windows 10. Based on the released previews, this looks to be a version worth upgrading to and much more suitable for business than the flop that was Windows 8. I particularly like the virtual desktop feature and the way that application windows are managed between the virtual desktops. It appears well thought out and will no doubt improve the speed with which users can manage multiple tasks from one screen.
Amazon glacier. A very cost effective way of archiving data. The lower the speed of retrieval requirement, the cheaper the service is. Rather than continually backing up the same data that never changes and is very rarely accessed, putting it into an archive such as glacier can reduce the internal storage and backup costs quite significantly. The necessary caveat is to say that the external archive should not be the only copy of the data.
Data encryption. There are a variety of methods and products that can be used, depending on the cloud service. We advise businesses that confidential data stored in the cloud should be encrypted so that only the person holding the encryption key can access that data. That way, if a cloud service provider is hacked and all the data is stolen, the encrypted data will be inaccessible. We think this will become the norm for businesses using cloud services in the future.
WiDi – Wireless HDMI TV. If you are want to have extremely slick presentations in 2015 then you need WiDi enabled equipment. WiDi stands for Wireless Display and enables you to add a second or maybe even third screen to your laptop without cables. WiDi gives you the same functions as when you physically plug a second screen into your laptop. The clever part behind this technology is that the stream is encrypted between your laptop and the screen, meaning no one on the same wireless network can view the content silently. Imagine you are in your boardroom and want to display your presentation, you simply select the screen and present. No more having to struggle to put the screen onto the correct input only to find that someone has walked off with the HDMI adapter.
Mobile device management. With the increase of mobile devices in the work place, it has become ever harder to keep track of the corporate devices and more importantly the data on these and personal (BYOD) devices. Using a product such as MaaS360, it is now possible to track, trouble shoot and remote wipe mobile devices. Given the way that mobile device usage in the workplace has evolved this technology is now essential if a company wants to keep its data secure.
Solid State Drives (SSDs). Used in laptops, SSD’s provide productivity gains so significant that we think it is worth replacing any hard disks that still exist. The price of SSDs have dropped and the capacity available has improved dramatically in recent years, making this another very easy decision. It will very likely extend the life of the laptop by several years. However, as per our previous blog, be aware that SSD’s are not immune to failure.
Umbrella. Website filtering that prevents users going to websites with malicious code. It works across pcs, macs, laptops and mobile devices. In every case where we have installed it, it has prevented users picking up malicious code. Furthermore, it can be used as a management tool for restricting access to selected websites by selected users, and also to track users website browsing. Services such as this have been around for a while, but Umbrella is a cloud service, very cost effective and extremely easy to roll out to the whole organisation. In our eyes, this is another simple decision for next year’s budget.
Druva Insync. A great asset to your company for data loss prevention and protection. Druva is a modular backup solution which allows you to pay for what you need. As standard it gives you the ability to back up your mobile device or desktop, across platforms. Modular add-ons such as data encryption, device tracking and cloud sharing complete Druva as a solution that any company shouldn’t be without.
These are our top recommendations. Beyond this there are several other products that we recommend which are more industry specific. A general trend that we’ve observed is that the number of products which we are able to recommend is increasing every year. There seems to be at least one product (and normally several) for every need and one that is cost effective and easy to implement. As such we put in a significant amount of time into researching the latest tools for our clients’ needs. Our goal is to provide our Managed IT Service and Hosting alongside third party products and services. This enables clients to work at the very highest levels of efficiency, with minimal risk of interruption through good security and redundancy – these recommendations support this goal.
Priority One – London IT Support