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Keep Your IT Infrastructure Strong

Published on Jun 11, 2013 at 12:10 pm in Tech Trends, Tennessean Articles.

A penny saved is a penny earned. We all know this saying, and most of us try to live by it. Whether you’re the type of person who can’t see a penny on the sidewalk without picking it up, or someone who visits the Frist Center only on the days when admission is free, we all do what we can to save a buck.

In business, finding ways to save money can make a big impact on your bottom line. It’s generally good business practice to keep your capital and operational costs low.

You can do this in several ways, from conducting extensive research before purchasing new equipment and negotiating down supplier contracts, to powering down workstations at night and making do without free soda in the break room.

Cutting costs shouldn’t mean cutting corners, though, especially when you’re talking about your company’s information technology infrastructure. Foregoing certain equipment protocols and administrative practices for the sake of saving money can have serious consequences to the strength and safety of your company as a whole.

Here are five places you shouldn’t skimp on in your IT infrastructure.

1. Data backups and disaster recovery. Your data is the heart of your organization; make sure you keep it secure. All of your company’s critical data should be backed up daily. These backups need to be taken or replicated off-site and audited regularly for completeness and restorability.

Disasters happen. Before one strikes your company, spend some time to understand your recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO) — these define the maximum bearable periods in which your organization can operate with data lost or systems down. Make sure that your disaster recovery plan meets these objectives.

2. Quality user support. A primary objective of IT is to keep users productive and moving the business forward. Business leaders often overlook help desk and desktop support, which is a shame because when you invest in your help desk, whether you hire quality professionals internally or employ an outside IT firm, your employees will be more productive and your business will be more profitable. This is because when your employees have hardware, software or user errors, they have a reliable place to get quality help fast.

3. Manufacturer support. All your organization’s mission-critical systems must be under current support from their manufacturers. This includes servers, firewalls, SANs, routers, switches, firewalls and software that manages your enterprise resource planning (ERP), accounting, client relationship management (CRM), practice management and inventory.

If your business depends on it, maintain support and warranty status with the manufacturer. In the event of a problem, this could mean the difference between being down for minutes versus days.

4. Physical networking infrastructure. We see this all the time — a company moves into new corporate headquarters and tries to save construction costs by using the lowest bidder to set up its low-voltage cabling infrastructure.

Then months later, a user has a computer problem and you’re unable to trace the wire from the computer back to the server room because the wiring isn’t documented properly or labeled.

This headache can dwarf the initial savings of using a low-cost bidder, so follow industry standards and best practices the first time around to save future networking problems.

5. Growth plans. All too often an organization is concerned with meeting its current IT demands when its leaders should really be focused on leveraging IT to move the business forward.

You should ask yourself whether all your current systems, processes and workflows are going to work when the business is double in size. What technologies are on the horizon that can give your business an advantage over the competition? When setting up new systems, make sure you have the future in mind.

This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where Concept Technology has a bi-weekly feature in the Business section.