How to Build a Computer Network Safety Net

Posted by Steven Vigeant on 11/13/12 7:00 AM

computer network safety netFor most SMB’s, the computer network is the backbone of the company.  Since so much depends on the network’s health and integrity, putting together a good computer network support team is imperative. You can hire the whole team in-house; collaborate with a reputable Managed Service Provider (MSP), who can complement your in-house resources; or outsource your network support entirely to a MSP who can provide quality service—often at a fraction of the in-house cost.  Whichever option you choose, the qualities you need to keep your network functioning optimally remain the same:

3 must have qualities of your support team

#1 Expertise

The complexity of technology keeps increasing.  You need to have an IT team that will be knowledgeable about topics such as how to protect yourself from the latest cyber threats, what storage options a SMB should consider or a newly released cloud service that might offer increased functionality to your system.  You might be able to hire this level of expertise in-house, but if the size of your business prohibits you from devoting resources to year-round fulltime experts, consider partnering with a MSP who can consult with you once or twice a year on best practices and help you put together technology solutions that best meet the needs of your business.  MSPs maintain a staff of experts in a wide-range of different technologies and platforms, which allows them to identify what is right for your business. Also, look to see if the MSP has a newsletter or blog you could sign up for. There is always valuable information these experts are publishing.

#2 Reliability

Because your computer network supports your entire company, it needs to be constantly monitored and maintained. These days most every company will be affected negatively by network or system downtime. 

Try this:

Calculate the cost of lost productivity if the system goes down for even a couple of hours.

  • Zero transactions made
  • Employee downtime
  • Permanent data loss

Your computer network or at least the main components should be monitored 24/7 and there should always be someone on call in case of an emergency.  If your in-house IT guy goes on vacation, make sure you have someone else lined up in case of an emergency.  MSPs usually have off-site Network Operation Control (NOC) centers that are actively monitoring your system day and night.  They will alert you to any potential problem and be available to put a solution in place.  You can contract with an MSP for computer network support for a monthly fee, which will ensure that the maintenance and upgrades are reliably done on schedule.

#3 Security Practices

Regular maintenance and upgrades will help ensure that your business won’t suffer from an unexpected, costly IT failure.  You want to protect not only the hardware and software your company has invested in, but also crucial data stored on the system. You need a computer support team that has the knowledge and expertise to plan adequate security measures and the vigilance to determine that they’re carried out on a day-to-day basis.  MSPs keep up with the latest security developments and offer contracts to routinely update anti-virus /anti-malware on your system as well as monitor backup alerts that any modern day backups system can provide. They know when a system has become infected or if your backup job failed on any given day. Could you say you would be aware of this. 

How to Choose A MSP for Computer Network Support

You know what to look for in an in-house employee—expertise, a good work ethic, and consist performance, but what attributes will identify the same qualities in a MSP that you depend on to keep your system running optimally?  When choosing a MSP, look at:

1)    Years in Business.  Technology is full of quick start-ups, solo “consultants” that are between jobs and quick flame-outs.  Probably the most important criteria for determining if a MSP is worthy of your trust is the years it’s been in business. A company that’s been in business for more than five years will have had to keep their customers happy over the long haul. They will also some experience and perspective on what works and what doesn’t as well as understand themselves what it means to run a small business

2)    Size.  It’s common for IT employees who are between jobs to start their own companies.  A MSP that has only one or two employees should be a red flag since it may be in danger of closing if one or both of its members find other work. Also consider how a smaller company can handle multiple emergencies and ensure they are there for you when you need them most.  You want a depth of expertise and a sense that the MSP will not leave your company in the lurch if something better comes along.

3)    Partners and Credentials. The number of partners and certificate credentials a MSP has will give you some idea of the range of expertise they bring to the job.  In this case, more is more.  The wide range of expertise will allow the MSP to give you the most comprehensive information about what’s best for your company. 

A good computer network support team will ensure that the system your business depends on will be reliable day in and day out throughout the year.  The time and investment in a good computer network support team will pay dividends when your system is consistently there for you.

Topics: Small Business IT Support, Computer Network Support


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