If you’re successful at growing your business, you will likely need to expand your IT infrastructure. In 2021, Information Technology is the lifeblood of so many businesses. Only with the right infrastructure and business processes will your business have the platform for success and enable you to deliver the best experiences to customers.
Communicating with your suppliers, employees, engaging in effective digital marketing all depend on your local and cloud infrastructure being highly available, redundant and scalable. As your business matures, so should your IT infrastructure. In competitive industries, being savage about ditching legacy hardware and software investments and moving to modern solutions will be critical in staying ahead of the pack.
Part of your building your IT stack is the responsibility of securing your network. If this isn’t going to be a core competency, it’s best you invest in security systems (both software and employee training) that protects your business from cyberattacks and malware. Cybersecurity is an intense area that may not be possible to manage if you don’t have cybersecurity experts. If this is the case for you, you can consider hiring the services of a cyber security company to manage the security aspects of your business IT infrastructure.
In this article, we cover some strategies to help you optimize your business’ IT infrastructure.
Implement or extend Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been around for a while now and most medium to large businesses are already playing in this space. This innovation is transforming the landscape of Information Technology. When we look to new startups, they no longer pour capital into on-prem server farms that come with power, cooling and maintenance costs, they simply buy compute and storage resources from scaled providers at a really low cost.
One of the big benefits to leveraging cloud offerings is their ability to scale to your needs. This works particularly well for businesses that have spikey traffic. If your website seems 100x traffic in the month leading up to Christmas, you can scale out your infrastructure to accommodate, then reduce resources after the spike to save money.
Cloud also offers redundancy in that data is replicated across large data centres located in different locations around the world. This ensures that if there is a connectivity issue between your customers and your servers, that traffic can re-route to an alternate node that is online and your customers may never know there was a problem.
When you build your own server farm, securing that infrastructure is incredibly challenging. You need to configure firewalls to allow valid traffic in, (like employees working remotely), while keeping the bad guys out. Cloud services take care of many of these security challenges for you.
The security protocols employed by cloud service providers help to withstand the lasted forms of cyberattacks which in theory lets you concentrate on your core business activities, knowing your business information is safe.
Additionally, cloud computing offers other services, like the cloud-based VoIP telephone system. With a VoIP telephone system, you don’t need any extra equipment like servers and software. The provider connects you to their server from where all processes are carried out. Also, a VoIP telephone system is a secure communication system that uses cutting-edge standards of cybersecurity.
Improve on Cybersecurity
You live in a world where business information is always under threat from cybercriminals and this has only increased during COVID-19. Potential data breaches of customer’s data are not only bad from a PR perspective, but you may also be liable financially for privacy breaches. There are many businesses that suffered irreparable damage to their reputation to the point they went out of business.
Given the requirements to keep information secured, you’ll also want to ensure you have great security software in place on the clients and hardware appliances where appropriate, to protect your network from security breaches. The range of threats continues to increase, but malware and DDOS attacks are common and can result in data loss.
If you’re doing anything online (like an online shop on your website), you should secure that traffic end-to-end using SSL. Savvy customers will also be looking for HTTPS at the start of their address bar to ensure your site is keeping personal details like address, phone number, date of birth secure. When it comes to payments, nobody writes their own, you’ll integrate with a payments platform like Square, or PayPal to ensure that payment is kept secure.
Staff devices may have configurations like antivirus software and policies, along with firewall and group policy settings that place restrictions on devices to keep them safe. Banning the ability for users to install applications without admin credentials can be inconvenient, but that’s the convenience trade-off to be more secure.
Implementing the structures above can help to prevent malware from installing or running an application that encrypts the hard drive and chances are you’ve heard of other organisations being hit with cryptolocker, which entered the business from an employee clicking on a link in their email.
One big prevention from phishing attempts, one of the most common forms of attacks, is to enable two-factor authentication on any service that offers it. Like banking electronically, this will send an SMS or notification via an authenticator app, to ensure someone accessing your account needs something you have (your phone) as well as something you know (username and password). In the worst case, even if a phishing email to an employee to a website that captured their credentials, without the MFA authentication piece, they wouldn’t get in.
There is a big temptation from companies to make a large capital investment in Information technology and leverage that for 10 years. The problem is, the industry is quickly going through a rapid evolution. Old technology may not be able to handle present-day computing demands. Older operating systems are rapidly becoming unsupported and therefore insecure, so moving to the latest is regularly the best policy.
In terms of networking and connecting edge devices to your network, 5G-enabled devices are now exploding onto the market and offer amazing network speeds. It’s a very different configuration to the corporate networks we’ve traditionally known, but by using a device on 5G, the data that transits between the device and telco is essentially secure. Getting that data back inside your organisation, or to a cloud service is the tricky bit.
It’s possible you could configure a cloud portal by Telstra to connect to a PowerBI report for example, but this needs to be done securely. Not having to run traditional internet infrastructure (copper, fiber etc) to locations that are serviced by 5G does enable distribution in a broader range of locations, without having the capital expenses of running trenches, connecting into switches etc.
Being on the latest technology is regularly providing business benefits by leveraging the latest features sooner. We’ve seen this from companies like Microsoft that ship new features to their online products before their desktop apps.
Establish backup systems
In the event that the worst happens, it is essential that your business could recover from a cyber incident. It’s time you treat the information your business creates as essential and protect it from potential loss. To do this, you need backups and a strategy for what acceptable restore points look like. If you lost a day’s worth of data how impactful is that? If your data is corrupt or compromised, or in the event, you had local infrastructure taken out by a natural disaster, you’d need to recover that data, re-establish your infrastructure before your employees could continue working. The longer this takes the more expensive the incident becomes and the more damage is done to your brand reputation.
With employees working remotely more often during Covid-19, this has escalated the risk of having data lost. You can create a data backup by cloning the drive in your computer, including the operating system and its configuration. As long as this backup is stored remotely, you could buy a new piece of hardware and restore that backup and be functional in hours not days.
In smaller businesses, you may opt for a backup solution on an external storage media like a portable hard disk.
Additionally, as mentioned above, you can store your information in the cloud, which offers the best internet security and can be accessed at any moment. Personally, I leverage Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive every single day to keep photos and documents safe regardless of the device in front of me.
Your IT infrastructure ought to have the capacity to facilitate your business processes without causing unnecessary interruptions. The moment you notice that it’s not giving you an optimal experience, it might be high time you upgrade to a technology that has better functionalities than the current one.
You should also boost the cybersecurity of your infrastructure and improve the backup systems within your organization, especially with the introduction of cloud computing.
With the strategies outlined in this, you can boost the performance of your enterprise and make the processes of your business more efficient.