Benefits of Cloud Migration

Benefits of Cloud Migration

The Top 4 Benefits of Cloud Migration

The cloud offers numerous benefits to forward-thinking businesses that want to work smarter. Cloud-based IT solutions provide superior flexibility and efficiency than traditional on-premises infrastructures. But even though this sounds great, there are challenges!

To give you the best chance of success, we’ve listed the five biggest challenges businesses face and how you can overcome them when you migrate over to the cloud

 Common Challenges

  1. User adoption

Stakeholder buy-in is the most common cause of issues and obstacles during cloud migration. Give someone a straight choice between learning a new process or system and sticking with what they already know, and most will choose the latter.

Many businesses work with cloud migration specialists to overcome this problem. From onboarding support to tailored training courses, specialist consultants offer a range of cloud services to help staff adapt to new systems confidently embrace future advances.

  1. Cost

Managing internal servers isn’t just time-consuming, it’s expensive. While cloud can be a cost-effective option, cloud costs include the up-front costs of transferring your data, and ongoing service and maintenance charges. You may also need to budget for staff training to get everyone up to speed.

Working with third-party IT consultants such as ourselves, ensures that you can streamline the process and significantly reducing your migration costs. Experience tells us that outsourcing IT support isn’t only more cost-effective than building an in-house team, it gives you access to unparalleled knowledge and experience, in our case that is over 25 years!

Sometimes full migration isn’t always the best option, but our engineers can advise you on the best solution for your business. For example, a hybrid approach might be a better, more affordable option if you don’t have to contend with sudden usage spikes. 

  1. Data security

Cloud security is complex. In public cloud environments, the provider and the customer share responsibilities. Physical infrastructure security, including servers and data centres, typically falls to the provider. Customers are responsible for their applications and data.

Data protection, access control, and identity management each play a crucial role in securing your cloud. To maintain robust security across your business, staff must know how to safely transfer, access, and manage data in the cloud – and what to do in the event of a breach. This requires regular training and accessible support – Which is something that the Systems Integration experts are more than happy to help you with.  

  1. Downtime

Cloud configuration has a vast impact on system performance. For example, inadequate capacity planning can result in resource shortages during peak times, leading to sudden service outages. Not only does this impact your bottom line, but it can also erode customer trust and your reputation. After all, who wants an unreliable supplier?

We can help you avoid this pitfall by configuring your cloud with scalability and multiple levels of redundancy in mind. This includes setting up load balancers, distributed databases, and multiple server instances across different availability zones or regions. Additionally, we can monitor performance and capacity over time to anticipate resource requirements and prevent overloads.

 The value of migrating to the cloud with Systems Integration

There are many steps to successful cloud migration – from finding the right platform to configuration. As cloud migration specialists, we provide guidance and support at every stage to make the process as smooth as possible. We work with you to understand your needs and find a solution to match while providing expert advice on any issues that arise quickly and cost-effectively.

If your business is looking to take the step over to the cloud, then please get in touch. 

The Cloud and WFH

The Cloud and WFH

With the current and most recent announcement that home working should once again be the norm, at least for the next 6 months, we are now finding that many local Swindon Businesses were not really at grips with the technology that was required to make it happen.

Overnight companies had to get to grips with how they could continue operating in these unique circumstances. Some, like manufacturing and hospitality, were left high and dry, while others discovered that only a radical shift in working practices would enable them to continue to operate through lockdown. I mean lets be honest, how many people knew what a VPN was, and as for Zoom, it was just something we would hear our children saying when playing with cars.

​All of sudden a number of our clients realised that the investment they had made in cloud-based solutions were paying dividends.  Suddenly they had found that they could enable their staff to work from home while retaining full access to all necessary files and applications. There are many good reasons for embracing the Cloud – Covid 19 is demonstrating this as an extreme example.

In simple terms we are referring to online services; to hosted server services which can be accessed from anywhere, to file management systems that allow you to control and distribute workload and information, and to software that originates on the web although it can be installed locally. In the Cloud computing model, none of these need physically reside in your premises, which if non one is actually on site is proving to be a godsend.
Naturally, there is still client hardware, network equipment, laptops and printers and these still need to be managed. But with the cloud, these tasks are made easier. Updates are done remotely and we can all create PDFs and send them without requiring a printer, and even fault diagnosis can be done without attendance.

During the period of lockdown, we have supported clients who had already invested in Cloud technology, and those who maintained a more ‘traditional’ IT approach.
We are able to handle both situations, but clients who had already adopted Cloud technology definitely found the transition from office home working far simpler with less disruption.

In fact recently we have been highlighting the benefits of cloud to numerous clients that have still not made the leap (but will now find themselves having to). With cloud, the benefits far outweigh any cons…
· It is cost effective – you only pay only for what you need
· It is strategic – Fully agile, allowing you to respond to changes quickly
· It is resilient – backups and restorations are simple
· Software integration is a breeze
· Full Mobility – could services can be accessed from anywhere with pretty much any type of equipment
· Deployment – no time-consuming hardware rollouts
· It is scalable – it’s easy to match your resources to your business needs, so when your business needs increase, the cloud can cope.

As you know, Systems Integration are Microsoft partners and we have can advise all our clients on the benefits of tools such as MS Azure servers, Egnyte and Datto, all of which provide the perfect platform for such industry-standard productivity tools like MS Office 365. This makes integration, sharing, collaboration and teamwork easy, regardless of the physical location of staff members.
And as we are fully aware of the Security requirements for any Business IT strategy, we can ensure any cloud migration/transition your business undertakes will be done safely.

If you haven’t yet embraced the Cloud, it’s high time you considered it. We have years of experience in bringing together the best of the best in terms of file storage, management and end-user applications to give your business the security and agility it needs to cope with the unseen potholes of modern commerce.
We’re always happy to spend time with you to find ways to improve your IT structures and add greater flexibility and value to your business.
Book a chat with us and find out how the Systems Integration and the Cloud can help YOUR business thrive instead of falter during the next 6 months…

Why should your SME have an IT Business Continuity plan?

Why should your SME have an IT Business Continuity plan?

If nothing else, the one thing that the COVID Epidemic has taught us is, that you can never take things for granted.
And this rule still applies to business that have not been affected by the recent pandemic.
​Multiple things can disrupt the operations of small – to medium-sized businesses (SMEs), such as, well..Epidemics that result in lack of staff, natural disasters or cyber attacks.

Any of these events can have major impact to your business, resulting in lost revenue, or in some extreme cases, business closure. This can be avoided however if you think ahead and have the foreseight to be prepared for the unthinkable.
But…having a concrete business continuity plan (BCP) in place will help your business recover quickly after a disaster.

What is a Business Continuity plan (BCP)?
A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in the event of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organisation, including but not limited too, IT systems and support, human resources, assets, and business processes.

Knowing the Key threats to your business continuity
Various types of threats can affect SMEs such as:
Natural disasters – These are natural phenomena – For those that live in more tropical climates than Swindon and Wiltshire, these can include Earthquakes & widfires, but for our audience we will stick with the more realistic such as storms, flooding and building infrastructure damage.
Man-made disasters – These include cyberattacks/malware, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
Equipment and utility failures – These include unexpected power failure, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP
If your organisation does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to put one together. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure that should a disater strike your business keeps running throughout the crises..
– 1 Business impact analysis (BIA)
A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions and processes, such as personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. This step will help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.
– 2 Recovery options
If disaster strikes, who and what will you need to get back on your feet? This step will help you identify key resources essential to returning your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include letting employees work from home or operating from a secondary location.
– 3 Plan development
This step involves identifying and assembling your company’s continuity team, which will be responsible for developing and implementing your BCP. Knowing who has what responibilities before hand will pay dividends in removing stress at the time of a disaster
– 4 Testing and training
Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform regular tests to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular training for your employees so everyone knows their respective roles when a disaster strikes. Do not do what many business do, do not put a team in place and never let the, practise their skills. After all, you do not put a fire alarm in place and never test it.. Think of your BCP as your business fire alarm.

Having a fool proof BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly bounce back after a major business disaster.
If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, please get in touch with us today. We have excellent disaster recovery packages that we can provide for your IT system and we can tell you about any other potential areas of fragility that may be present within your IT infrastructure.

Working from home? Things not to do

Working from home? Things not to do

In the last few months, the ‘working from home’ scenario has become quite common, and it is probably safe to say that it will be the norm for many of for the next few months at least.
For some, it may have taken a bit of adjusting; others perhaps always had a home office arrangement. Either way, under the current circumstances and with cyber criminals taking full advantage at the moment, we wanted to highlight some of the vulnerabilities home working can expose, not just for your employees but for your systems that they may be accessing whilst working remotely.
These are the most common bad practises that are happening more now than ever before.

PASSWORD PROTECTION

For work meetings and for keeping in touch with people for sheer sanity during the current lockdown period, you may have downloaded applications such as Zoom or Houseparty. These apps are great in their function and keeping us connected but their security has been brought into question. Especially with Zoom recently as it has been shown that although this is a great app, it’s security hasn’t quite been up to scratch
It’s essential you protect your data by making sure your key business applications, such as Gmail and Office 365, use complex passwords unique to these applications only. Where possible, you should also consider 2-factor authentication: You can never be too protected.
You have to remember that if anyone gets hold of your Google account access, you can be in a world of pain – all it takes is the search ‘https://passwords.google.com/‘ and they will suddenly have access to all the passwords you have saved on the many sites you use. 2-factor authentication is not just a nice to have, but is really a necessity.

EQUIPMENT THAT HAS SEEN BETTER DAYS

Many businesses have been struggling to acquire a sufficient number of laptops to allow all of their team to work at home. However, the worst thing you can do is reach for that dusty old laptop packed away in the loft.
Old equipment runs old operating systems. End-of-life systems like Windows-7, are no longer supported with security updates, leaving them wide open with loopholes hackers can easily exploit. Plugging in a Windows-7 PC or laptop at home and connecting via a VPN, is the same as plugging it in directly onsite, posing a huge risk to your entire business network. ensure your employees do not do it. Safer or better to invest in up to date kit than take the risk.

ANTI VIRUS SOFTWARE

You will probably find that on a day-to-day home PC, the security installed is great for the odd bit of surfing or Ebay browsing, but is often substandard for business use. If you or any of your team are using personal PCs or laptops whilst working from home, it’s important to understand that any connecting device that is not running sufficient anti-virus software, is a weak link in your network security. Ensure your team know the risks involved, flipping from a potentially unsecure site to one of your business systems on the same browser is all that is needed to give you an almighty headache and explaining to clients. Hackers and virus’s are clever and this lockdown and WFH situation is giving them ample time to practise their skills.

UNPATCHED USERS

Much like the anti-virus weakness, unpatched home working equipment poses a huge cyber security risk. If an unpatched user is compromised, dangerous malware or ransomware could spread like wildfire through your business, encrypting all your data and rendering it useless.
Make sure your patch management solution covers all remote clients and prompt your team to have their automatic updates on.
Familiarise yourself with the common cyber threats to look out for during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Smishing (Dodgy texts) and Phishing (Email Scams)

FIREWALLS

If your business doesn’t operate fully cloud-based systems and you and your team members are connecting using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead, your need to ensure your firewall needs is A+. Non-industry-leaders can provide solutions but these often cut-corners on your security.
Ensure your firewall is up to the job of offering high levels of encryption between home connections and your head office – you can’t afford to compromise. At Systems Integration we have the knowledge of the level of security that is needed to run these systems, so please feel free to ask for advice.

At Systems Integration we offer more than just IT Support, but we are committed to helping our current and future clients be aware of the risks when it comes to tasks such as working from home. So if you or your business have any concerns in these troubling times, please get in touch and ask – we are more than happy to help.

Business As Normal

Business As Normal

We understand that the IT support we provide to our customers is vital to to enabling them to keep running and providing a service. As one of Swindon and Wiltshire’s leading IT services providers we have tens of organisations depending on our ability to provide a reliable and uninterrupted service, even more so, during through these difficult times. So, in light of the recent developments around Coronavirus (COVID-19), we would like to share with you the measures we are taking to ensure we continue to provide the services our customers need during the difficult time ahead.

For System Integration we are pleased to let you know it is business as usual…If our office needs to be shut to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to, it is not an issue, as all our technicians have the equipment available to sure they can assist you from their homes remotely.
We already have tried and tested Disaster Recovery plans in place to ensure service continuity in challenging times and now that major developments have taken place with the Coronavirus lockdown we implementing those plans.
Due to the nature of our business, a small number of staff will still be able to operate in the field for emergencies but as the majority of our IT infrastructure is cloud based this allows our team to work from anywhere.

How we ensure that our customers IT support is maintained:

  1. Any enquiries submitted by new or existing clients that we recieve through the website will be responded to within 2 hrs.
  2. All our helpdesk Technicians have access to ‘softphones’ and headsets which are installed on home computers, and connected to our cloud telephone system. This will ensure our support staff can continue to answer enquiries via phone as per usual.
  3. Our sales and account managers, although often field based, already have company provided mobile telephones allowing existing and new clients to contact them wherever they are, we can also forward telephone calls from our business telephone system to mobiles.
  4. We already use cloud computers (Remote Desktop Protocol). All our technicians can logon to our cloud computer system from any location and access their desktop and all software they normally use on a daily basis.
  5. Microsoft Teams or Zoom will be used internally so that our teams can communicate and work together as if they were sat next to you for collaboration and content sharing.
  6. Site visits that are non prioity are now postponed, but where possible we will work with you remotely.
  7. We will continue to go ahead with any customer meetings we did have via phone or video conference.
  8. We are experts on remote working and understand that this may be new to some of our clients, so are technicians are on hand to answer any set up questions you may have and to give advice on what systems to use to ensure communication is manitained within your teams

We will be regularly reviewing the government advice regarding COVID-19 and we remain committed to supporting you with the highest level of service. In the meantime if any of you have any concerns or questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Should you need any help or advice regarding remote working for your workforce, please contact us on ​01793 481981
or request a call back via our enquiry form.

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