Happy New Year out there to all our faithful readers! In the spirit of the New Year, I thought it would be wise to create my own top ten resolutions of Good and Responsible IT leadership.
I know most of you are thinking that *everyone* practices IT using all of the Best Practices and methods. So Keith, why do I need to abandon my daily coffee and exciting game of digital solitaire. The network is running just fine. Well, my friend, I swear on my giant pink fluffy bunny slippers that not everyone is as responsible as you are. So, let’s get to it.
My Top Ten List of Things Every IT Person Should Do to Stay On Top of Their Systems in the New Year
1. Be aware of licensing changes to your software
Microsoft and other vendors are constantly changing license requirements. Make sure you are educated in 2017. There was a big change to Microsoft 2016 Windows Server licensing this year that is throwing a lot of people for a loop. Instead of charging for CPU count, MS has decided to start charging per core in both SQL Server and Windows 2016 Server.
2. Audit yourself or have someone else do it
Don’t be afraid to have someone come in and do an informal audit to make sure you are license compliant. For many small businesses, this process can take less than a day. However, it will make sure that some disgruntled employee doesn’t turn you in and get the license police knocking on your door. The fines are excessive.
3. Get your core systems current
I log into networks all the time that still have Active Directory 2003 servers and even 2008 versions. Wow, really. It’s 2016 and the AD upgrade path takes less than an hour. Get your AD to 2012R2 or 2016 today. Don’t delay.
4. Get rid of those old switches
I constantly have people remark about the performance of their network. When looking I find several old switches lurking about in closets or sitting on cabinets. When we remove them from the equation, the whole network just leaps to its feet. Just bite the bullet and get something modern. If you have more than 3 switches, ask yourself, why aren’t you using 10GB or 40GB uplinks between them? It’s not expensive anymore…so, take advice from Nike and Just Do It!
5. Buy spare equipment …really….do this…yes, you, over there…do this!
Most of you out there have at least one mission critical piece of equipment that when it fails, your systems will be down for days or hours. Buy a spare and put it on the shelf. You don’t have to get an exact new, fancy version. Just get something that will do what you need to run as a backup while the main one is getting replaced. Also, refurbished is a good idea here. For example, if you have a $10k firewall, get a $2k firewall that will run everything for your backup situation. Configure it, test it, and put it on the shelf. ‘Nuf said!
6. Legacy NEEDS TO GO!
So many of us have old, legacy systems that need to go. If you can, virtualize it and get rid of the hardware. Then, make it your goal in 2017 to eliminate this as much as you can. Legacy apps are getting harder and harder to support. Find a newer, better application with support that can take you to the next phase in your business.
7. Protect yourself especially with Email
Many of you have outdated or heaven forbid no decent email filtering solutions. The Email virus payloads and Cryptoware delivery systems are getting more and more advanced, and poor uneducated end-users keep clicking links and costing you money and time. If you invest in services like Barracuda Cloud Email Security, you can head this off significantly. “But Keith, I host in Office 365, isn’t that protecting me.” Unfortunately, no, that is an extra upcharge of $2/month for Microsoft’s malware security and so far, it’s not as good as others on the market.
8. Discuss your Cloud Plan and get serious about it
Companies are starting to get a handle on how the cloud can help them move into the next generation of technology for business. A good cloud strategy can help a company take advantage of extremely high-end services at a fraction of the price. They can also cripple a company with mismanaged costs. You need a cloud partner to navigate it. Get one and get serious. If you don’t have one, call us…you know, because…it’s what we do.
9. Educate your people
Your customers are your end-users. If they are educated, then IT works better and your job gets easier. If you are an end-user reading this article, then get educated yourself. There are tons of free information that will help you to become street smart on the Net. Use this material and get smart. Start here: http://knowbe4.com
10. Plan better and find good Partners
Many of us live in a constant state of reaction. We run around with our hair on fire trying to chase down all of the issues on a daily basis. We often don’t have time to tackle the big projects because the daily grind keeps us down. Find a good partner and make a plan to get the small and big projects done. A good partner will work with you to improve your network, software, and systems and provide some extra support when the fires are burning a little too hot.
When you plan, give yourself room for things to take longer than you think they should. Remember, quality in IT really matters. It needs to be done right or you will have even more fires to chase as time goes by.
Make a plan, make a list, and get proactive. You will sleep better.