The four touchstones of business IT

This is the title of an article on the estimable ITDonut, and having read and agreed with it, we felt moved to comment on it.

Author Craig Sharp of Abussi identifies as the four touchstones functional email, regular backups, protection from security threats and business grade systems. Let’s take a look at the considerations for each of these.

Functional email
Sharp refers to email needing to work across a range of devices, and this applies to the wider collaboration systems that include shared calendars, lists and document access. In order for this to work in a joined-up manner you’ll need to use a professional email system (ie not Hotmail, and preferably not Gmail either – invest in a domain name and USE IT), well supported and with readily available and accessible the support you need for getting set up across all your devices.

Really there’s no getting away from business grade systems – it’s not a separate consideration that applies only to hardware, it’s a consideration every step of the way and we would argue particularly in this area.

This applies to your data and to your website. Any hosting company worth its fee will automatically take back-ups of your site, but look closely at how frequently these are taken – weekly? Daily? Decide how often you need backups taken and make this a criterion when choosing your host. Then look at what’s involved in restoring your site should the worst happen. Don’t shut your mind to it and assume the hosting company will sort it all out in five minutes. Facilitate restoring of your services by having ready access to account details.

Your data needs backing up too. If you store data in the cloud then similar considerations apply as for web back-ups, with a sliding scale from the cheap end cloud storage organisations to the quality business-grade companies. Whether you back up onto a memory stick or rely on cloud services, again don’t assume restoring data will happen as if by magic. Try a restore every so often to make sure that the systems in place are actually going to work.

This is another issue to raise with your suppliers of internet- and web-based services. Windows users are vastly more vulnerable to security issues than Linux users, especially on the local machine. Consider using an open source operating system such as Ubuntu to dramatically reduce your risks.

Use common sense as well. If you’re not an experienced computer user read up on the advice and proceed with caution.

Business Grade Services
Yes, yes and yes again. If you’re offering a business-focussed service and specialism you should expect to be using them too. Business grade services are designed to be robust and support the requirements, scale and demands of business. Free or very cheap services simply can’t provide the same level of service to business, however willing. When it comes to the IT underpinning your business, it’s very well worth paying for suppliers who can provide peace of mind as part of the service.

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