The Ultimate IT Checklist for 2017

Posted by Rob Williams on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 @ 09:30 AM

 

shutterstock_556889749.jpgOur Ultimate IT Checklist for 2016 was one of our most popular blogs last year. Since you found our checklist so helpful, we have decided to give it a re-boot for 2017. Use this list as a starting point when planning your initiatives and milestones this year. 

IT Housekeeping 

Business continuity is the foundational objective upon which all your other goals and objectives are built. Before you can begin your plans for new objectives, you should make sure that your current systems are up-to-date and in good working order. This will go a long way toward ensuring that your business will run disruption-free in 2017. Following is the list of systems that you should check. 

 Internet / WAN Connection

A slow connection can cost your company a loss in productivity. If your connection goes down, then production will come to a complete halt. This can also cost your business lost sales, if your company depends on connectivity to make those sales. Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company, calculates that downtime costs a business an average of $5,600 per minute, or more than $300K per hour. 

In addition to testing your connectivity for problems and issues, you should ask yourself whether your current bandwidth is adequate for your business needs. For example, do you have enough bandwidth to accommodate peak traffic? Can your current bandwidth accommodate the business growth you are anticipating this year? 

Firewall

Cybersecurity is a serious issue for any business. Hackers are focused on stealing valuable information from organizations of all sizes. CSO magazine reports that cybercrime damages will reach a global annual cost of $6 trillion by the year 2021. 

If your firewall is more than 4 or 5 years old, your business is at risk for a cyberattack. The best way to secure your network against hackers is next-generation firewall services, like firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS). Traditional firewalls were not designed or built to defend against current malware threats. FWaaS offers several important advantages over traditional firewalls, including intelligent threat monitoring, updates to defend against new threats, and unified threat management. Plus, next-generation firewalls are very cost-effective compared to traditional firewalls. Since they are sold as a service, use of CapEx funds to purchase expensive equipment is not necessary; FWaaS can be purchased as a fixed monthly expense. 

Phone System

If your business is using a traditional phone system, you have a great opportunity to improve your company’s productivity and technological capabilities by switching to the latest technology in business phone systems. Traditional phone systems are expensive to maintain and lack features that today’s customers and employees expect and need. For example, sales people often spend time on the road making sales calls. They expect seamless call-forwarding and the ability to check messages from any location or device. Modern VoIP systems offer the capability to forward calls and check messages from any device, as well as many other useful features and benefits.

Server Performance

Your business is generating a great deal of valuable information and you need a secure way to store it. Here are two critical questions to get you started on your server performance evaluation. Is your current storage solution adequate to store the data your business will generate in 2017? Can your data center accommodate spikes in demand? 

In the past, organizations would have to buy additional physical storage to accommodate occasional traffic spikes. This approach is not cost-effective because those servers must be purchased and maintained even when they are not in use. A cloud-service model for storage is very cost-effective because you only pay for capacity that you need. If you have a traffic spike, the cloud can accommodate it. Another benefit is the cost structure. As with FWaaS, cloud storage can be purchased as a monthly OpEx, as opposed to a CapEx. 

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Planning 

Once you have completed your systems check, the next step is to evaluate your disaster recovery plan. Here are four factors you should consider regarding disaster recovery and business continuity. 

Downtime Preparation

No matter how prepared you are, downtime can happen to any business. If your technology goes down, do you have a reliable system for backup, replication, retrieval, and failover? Is your backup system in the same physical location as your primary? Do you have an off-site backup and recovery location? How quickly can you restore services in the event of downtime? 

Disaster Recovery Plan Test

You should test your disaster recovery plan at least once a year, twice is better, and quarterly is best practice. Come up with several hypothetical scenarios and do a thorough test of your plan for each. This exercise will help you determine whether your organization is truly prepared for a disaster and will uncover gaps in your current plan. 

Review Your Internal Security Policies

Human error continues to be one of the leading causes of security breaches. A review of your current internal security policies will help your organization be more secure in several ways. It will give you an opportunity to review your policies in regards to new security threats, evolving business models, and compliance factors. It will further give you the chance to review your policies with your staff and make sure that your organization is aligned when it comes to cybersecurity.                            

2017 Goals and Initiatives

Once you have concluded that your current systems are up-to-date and functioning, you should evaluate your business goals and initiatives for the year. Can your current system support the growth you are projecting for 2017? Do you have new products or services that require additional technological capabilities? 

Oxford Networks Can Help You Plan for 2017 

If you finish your 2017 IT Checklist and would like an expert to review it with you, one of our subject-matter experts will be happy to go over your business goals and challenges. We can also discuss how cloud-based services, such as FWaaS, VoIP, and disaster recovery can help you manage costs, grow your business, and ensure continuity.

Request a consultation with one of Oxford’s data center experts.

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Topics: IT Investment, IT Budget