Category: IT Solutions

Onsite vs. Remote IT Support

[4 min. read]

Businesses need IT to function optimally, regardless of size, industry or scope. Successful IT support is essential for companies to run, expand and maintain operational best practices. IT support services perform many mission-critical functions, from addressing technology-based challenges to writing complex software.

Onsite IT and remote options have benefits, but which is best for your business? In many ways, the answer depends on your business requirements. Further examination of each IT support option in more detail is vital to understand the differences between onsite IT vs. remote and which would be a better fit.

What Is Onsite IT Support?

Onsite IT support solutions involve professional IT personnel offering you services on your business’s physical premises. This support can be provided by the company’s employees or outsourced to a specialized IT service provider. Both permanent and temporary options are available depending on business requirements.

Permanent options provide network, hardware and software support and immediate troubleshooting. Temporary onsite IT support provides in-person availability in a problem-solving capacity. Both allow your technology partner to become familiar with your software and business requirements, which can be beneficial in the long term.

What Is Remote IT Support?

Remote IT helpdesk support doesn’t require anyone in your physical office space. Instead, many operational processes run in the cloud, including cybersecurity, full disaster recovery and cloud-hosted IT infrastructure. Remote IT support services cater to multiple businesses from their headquarters and can deal with most challenges from their own space.

IT technicians can access your business computers and other devices remotely, so they can see the screen of the remote device on their computer, diagnose problems and even take control of the remote device to troubleshoot and provide solutions. Technicians have access in real-time using specialized software. Although you might not come face-to-face with your IT support personnel, they can still provide an efficient and effective service to your business.

Onsite IT Support Benefits and Disadvantages

There are many benefits of onsite IT, but it may only suit specific business needs. To examine whether onsite IT could be a good fit for your business, consider the following advantages and disadvantages:

Benefits of Onsite IT Support

Many businesses find onsite IT support highly beneficial. Some of the reasons companies choose to adopt this model include the following:

  • Immediate problem-solving: Onsite IT professionals in the physical building can help you and your staff solve problems as they arise. Onsite technicians can also diagnose and assist in fixing hardware on your premises.
  • Personalized attention: Onsite IT support providers are there to work face-to-face with you to learn how to use your systems and help you solve problems. Over time, they become familiar with your operations and company culture, creating a personalized partnership rather than a simple business transaction.
  • Preventive approach: Onsite technicians help to streamline your systems and keep them running. They take a preventative approach, and because they’re on the premises, they can address problems in the early stages and address them before they become significant issues.
  • Rapid and efficient communication: Only some people are technologically proficient enough to describe IT problems via email or phone. Onsite support helps avoid miscommunications, as technicians have immediate access to the problem. Since they can see it for themselves, they can often troubleshoot faster without mixed messages.
  • Improved internal relationships: People in your premises get to know one another, which leads to stronger interpersonal relationships and better problem-solving. Your employees trust IT support personnel and are less likely to foster adversarial relationships.

Disadvantages of Onsite IT Support

Onsite IT support has disadvantages, which you might have to consider. Some disadvantages include the following:

  • Higher cost to the company: Onsite IT support requires more time, which drives up the cost of having someone on your premises. If you need a full-time solution, your business must account for paying salaries. Depending on your budget, a salary expense could limit your hiring pool.
  • Extensive infrastructural needs: Depending on your business needs and expectations, you might need to provide the infrastructure for your onsite IT team. You’ll shoulder the expense of servers, hardware, tools and storage space. A setup like this may come with prohibitive costs.
  • Limited availability: Onsite IT technicians often work regular office hours, so if a problem arises outside of these hours, your business may have to wait for your technician. If your company employs a technician on a part-time or freelance basis, they might need more time to be able to rush over to your premises, so it takes longer for them to address your problem.
  • Finite expertise: Individual expertise can be limiting, as opposed to an entire team of remote technicians, each with their specialized skills.

Remote IT Support Benefits and Disadvantages

Remote IT support has many benefits and gives business leaders a different approach to IT needs. Examine these pros and cons to discover whether remote support might be a better fit:

Advantages of Remote IT Support

The choice to go with remote support has many business benefits, including the following:

  • Rapid resolutions: Remote technicians can access your system remotely wherever they are, which can mean quicker turnaround times when troubleshooting.
  • Cost-effective support: Quicker responses can save your company money. You can choose from the services they provide and pay for those without the responsibility of adding staff to your payroll or paying for technicians to travel to your location.
  • Reduced infrastructural demands: Remote help desk technicians work from their office or home. They have their hardware and infrastructure, which is more cost-effective for your business as you don’t have to provide them with the tools they need to operate.
  • Unlimited availability: Help desk services often offer 24/7 availability. They can deal with your problems as they arise, even on weekends and public holidays. Constant availability is excellent for keeping you operational, protecting your data and reacting quickly in case of a breach.
  • Geographical freedom: Remote teams can be based anywhere and service businesses in multiple locations. If you have offices in two different states, for example, the same service provider could support both.
  • Enhanced data access: With remote access, your IT support team can give you immediate access to your data at any time.
  • Elevated maintenance: Your team will regularly update, maintain and check your system for weaknesses and offer preventive care, providing you with access to the latest technologies and up-to-date data protection.

Disadvantages of Remote IT Support

Depending on your customer service requirements, your employees could find remote support less comforting than having someone on your premises. Some disadvantages of remote support include the following:

  • Restricted attention: Remote companies might service multiple businesses, so you won’t get the same undivided attention as you would from an onsite team. Ensure any remote IT provider has the staff to support your needs.
  • Minimal support for hardware problems: Although some remote services offer hardware solutions, this service is limited by geography. If your business encounters an issue with the physical hardware in the building, you might have to outsource a separate provider to address the issue.
  • Ambiguous costs: Your business may need various services with varied costs, making remote support more challenging to budget effectively.

Find the Best Support for Your Business With Morefield

Many small to medium businesses need more resources to devote to a complete IT support team. With over 70 years in the business, Morefield can help you select your IT solution based on your business needs. Morefield will help your business make smart technology decisions from the consulting phase — providing valuable input to companies that don’t have a dedicated IT service provider —  to the implementation phase, designing and maintaining solutions to your IT and regulatory compliance challenges.

Please connect with us today to learn more about how we can provide you with dedicated and solution-focused IT alternatives.

7 Benefits of IT Outsourcing for Your Business

[4 min. read]

As businesses evolve in an ever-changing landscape, the need for robust IT is becoming increasingly important. IT is necessary to meet customer demand and streamline a business’s operational procedures to assist employees in their jobs. Without IT support, businesses cannot operate, making the choice of IT service providers fundamental.

Small and medium businesses want cost-effective methods to elevate their internal processes, and many choose outsourced IT services as a solution. Outsourced IT management has many benefits, including allowing companies access to IT specialists who assist with providing more efficient and effective services to their customers.

What Is Outsourced IT?

Outsourcing IT services is standard practice for businesses across industries. It involves trusting external service providers with providing IT infrastructure solutions, offering utility services and delivering IT-enabled business processes.

Companies with outsourced IT management have more time to focus on their core business practices. Fostering strategic partnerships with external IT service providers can also elevate business growth in addition to fulfilling IT requirements.

Increased operational pressures may require companies to seek a more comprehensive IT solution. Outsourcing provides a host of services businesses may not be able to replicate with the traditional in-house staffing model, including threat management, reduced investment in human resources and crisis resolution. The solutions to IT challenges are centralized and businesses can choose a service that best fits their needs.

Types of Outsourced IT

To outsource IT effectively, it’s necessary to understand the types of outsourced IT available. There are many, but small and medium enterprises often use the following:

Managed IT Services

Managed IT services represent the typical model we associate with IT support. Technicians are available 24 hours a day to troubleshoot IT problems and take care of the day-to-day maintenance of your operation. Managed IT service providers also provide security, administrative and data backup services and monitor your network constantly for any problems. With managed services, your IT team takes care of many operational IT tasks daily.

Professional IT Services

Professional services may not take care of your company’s day-to-day needs. Still, they provide an on-demand solution model that could be employed for one-off projects or to expand and change your business operations. Companies that need to address specific challenges may turn to professional services. Their work will be thorough and detailed. They work on a consulting basis and can be utilized as needed.

7 IT Outsourcing Benefits

The benefits of outsourcing IT are multifold. You can choose service providers based on the size of your business and the scope of your IT requirements. Some advantages to consider include the following:

 1. Reduced Costs

Businesses often pay a fixed amount for outsourced IT services, making them easier to budget for and more cost-effective in the long term. Your company can avoid the often prohibitive costs of retaining an IT team and providing them with the infrastructure. Outsourced IT relieves your business of the financial and time expenditure involved with an in-house team.

2. Enhanced Access to Expertise and Innovative Technology

Outsourced IT means access to the latest in IT technology. Managed service providers (MSPs) are more equipped to handle your company’s ever-changing needs and can offer more holistic solutions to IT problems. Outsourced IT gives your business access to a team of experts from around the world with vast experience in many areas.

3. Qualified and Reliable Service

Training technicians in-house can waste valuable resources, especially for a small business. Managed service providers train technicians at their own time and expense. The staff on the IT team are reliable and qualified, as they have gone through a screening process to meet specific requirements put in place by your managed service provider.

Specialized technicians and other IT staff have more than secondary or tertiary knowledge, removing the challenge of training in-house applicants. Managed service providers give your business access to qualified staff who can cater to all business sizes and strategic outcomes.

4. Increased Productivity

Without an outsourced option, employees are often pulled away from their tasks to handle IT-related issues. Outsourced IT allows your employees to focus on their productivity without the distraction of urgent IT problems. As employees and the outsourced team become familiar with one another, the day-to-day operations become more streamlined, which is excellent for your bottom line and employee satisfaction.

5. Reduced Cybersecurity Risk

With an MSP in the background, your business is all but assured sensitive information is secure. They constantly monitor your network and systems for vulnerabilities, breaches and suspicious activity, reducing your risk of being the victim of malicious attacks.

6. Enhanced Compliance

Compliance can be a complex issue and your business may need to spend a lot of time reporting to local and international compliance agencies. An outsourced IT team has vast experience in compliance and security specific to your industry. Their team has to meet their own standards, making compliance a vested interest to all parties.

7. Improved Customer Service

Outsourcing makes your staff more productive and streamlines your operations, meaning you can focus on superior customer service. Your customers will notice fewer delays, quicker responses and a more confident workforce when an external team manages your IT needs. Channels of communication remain open due to reduced downtime, cementing your reputation and allowing your business to maintain a competitive edge.

IT Outsourcing Disadvantages

Business owners must be aware of the potential downsides of outsourced IT services, some of which include the following:

  • Security risks: Your company trusts the outsourced IT team to cover security, but you may not fully know their risk management protocols. Conduct extensive research when choosing an MSP to ensure they can provide your business with adequate protection and risk management strategies.
  • Opposed objectives: In-house IT staff often function as a cohesive unit with the rest of your employees. Outsourcing can create a disconnect, as employees don’t come face-to-face with their service provider.
  • Limited control: Outsourced IT services require control of your security and essential functions, which can make some business owners uncomfortable. Forming a partnership with a service provider you can trust is critical.
  • Impaired communication: MSPs serve multiple businesses, which could result in communication delays. Slow communication is particularly problematic with regard to security issues.
  • Lowered employee morale: Your current staff may feel threatened or insecure when you add an external party. Consider morale and ensure you consider your staff when making company-wide changes.

When to Outsource IT

Outsourcing IT can be beneficial to your business provided you know how and when to implement the change. If any of the following is true in your business, it might be time to look at outsourcing options:

  • Hardware and software issues: If these issues are causing downtime or creating cost concerns, it may be worth handing them over to an MSP.
  • Lack of current IT solutions: Whether your business lacks the resources for a committed IT department or you want to augment your current IT management, outsourced support could play a vital role in streamlining your IT.
  • Need to explore cost-effective options: Outsourced IT saves your business money and allows you to focus on your daily operations.
  • Desire to upgrade your current IT support: If you’re looking for innovative solutions, outsourced IT services remain up to date with all the latest technologies and can find a method to incorporate them into your business practices.

Find the Best IT Outsourcing Solutions With Morefield

Does your business need help with outsourcing IT solutions? Morefield can consult with you and create solutions to optimize your business. Our wide variety of services can help you get the most out of your IT processes. At Morefield, we help organizations make smart technology decisions, and our experts will work with you to assess your current setup and recommend the best solutions for your business — from strategic planning to implementation.

We offer a variety of products and services and over 70 years of experience in the industry, so you can be sure you’re getting the best possible value. Our customer care is also unmatched, so you can always feel confident you’re in good hands. Please feel free to connect with us today to learn more about how Morefield can help you.

A Guide to Cybersecurity Asset Management

The CIS controls version 8.0 lists Inventory /Control of Enterprise Assets and Inventory/Control of Software Assets as its first and second control.

The first control details “actively [managing] (inventory, track, and correct) all enterprise assets (end-user devices, including portable and mobile; network devices; non-computing / Internet of things (IoT) devices; and servers) connected to the infrastructure physically, virtually, remotely, and those within cloud environments, to accurately know the totality of [the] assets that need to be monitored and protected within the enterprise.” 

The second control details “actively [managing] (inventory, track, and correct) all software (operating systems and applications) on the network so that only authorized software is installed and can [be] executed”. Additionally, it notes ‘that unauthorized and unmanaged software is found and prevented from installation or execution.” 

Importance of Asset Management to Cybersecurity

If you don’t know what you have, where your important data is housed, how it is backed up, and whom the users are accessing it, then it makes it challenging to protect it. It would be like an Airline not knowing where its aircraft were when they need to be maintained next, or its capacity for how much fuel it carries and how many passengers can fly in it. Asset management in the Cybersecurity framework is critical to mitigating risks within an organization.

Asset discovery and management are the foundation of a strong IT program. Asset management is about understanding all your assets and how they interoperate to reduce your cybersecurity exposure.

How Frequently Should I Check My Technology Assets?

The collection of Inventory should not be a once-a-year update of a spreadsheet, but an ongoing collection of assets and a monthly review to ensure they align with business policies. One recommendation is to capture alerts for any new assets that are discovered. It is recommended that alerts are captured for any new assets discovered. This allows for actions to be taken to evaluate if the asset is a security risk or if it poses a threat to the organization. 

Some actions that can be taken include checking to see if it is required for the asset to be backed up, checking if the asset has the correct software loaded (Antivirus, Malware) and if the software is the approved version. Having continuous discovery of assets including classification and assessments will provide complete visibility into your environment and information on your attack surface.

Incorporating the software and hardware in an inventory list will allow you to stay current with compliance and governance requirements. It does this by alerting you on issues and ensuring you have a single source of truth.

Asset Management Resources

NIST Recommendations

NIST released detailed recommendations for IT Asset Management (NIST SP 11800-5b). It is a 237-page document that goes into detail about recommendations for implementing Asset Management in an Enterprise (including how-to guides). Although this may be more information than you require, it provides some great reference material.

Software Scanners

There are also software scanners that can scan your network and check logs for new additions to the network. It then probes devices for information on a regular basis. Implementing an automated system to manage your assets will minimize the time required to manually update the Asset Register. This will also ensure it is current and up to date when needed to be referenced for security purposes. Some even understand the relationships between assets and how they operate within your business. They also look for anomalies that are outside the normal interaction. A good example of this is a server that has a sensitive database on it that is normally accessed by three users. If a new machine comes online and accesses this database, an alert may be raised.

How to Protect My Assets?

We recommend to our clients that they have an asset and software inventory in place and include cloud-based software and virtual machines. Even if you start with something simple and build upon it. This will lay the groundwork for something that will be referenced often, and its value will be realized through the implementation of more advanced cybersecurity controls.

Need help with your asset management? Contact our team of experts today!

 

References

IT Asset Management (nist.gov)
CIS Critical Security Controls Version 8 (cisecurity.org)

Microsoft to Disable Basic Authentication for Exchange Online on October 1, 2022

Starting October 1st, Microsoft will start to randomly select tenants and disable Basic authentication for Exchange Online.

Basic authentication has been used by client applications for many years to connect to servers, services, and endpoints. Basic authentication sends a username and a password with every request and does not require TLS. This can leave user credentials vulnerable to interception by attackers. Furthermore, the enforcement of multifactor authentication (MFA) is not simple or in some cases, possible when Basic authentication remains enabled. Basic authentication is an outdated industry standard and there are more effective user authentication alternatives including security strategies such as Zero Trust (Never Trust, Always Verify).

Microsoft is making this change to switch customers to Modern authentication. Modern authentication is an umbrella term for a combination of authentication and authorization methods between a client and a server. It enables authentication features like multi-factor authentication (MFA), smart cards, certificate-based authentication (CBA), and third-party Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) identity providers.

Disabling Basic Authentication will impact:

  • MAPI, RPC
  • Offline Address Book (OAB)
  • Exchange Web Services (EWS)
  • POP
  • IMAP
  • Exchange ActiveSync (EAS)
  • Remote PowerShell

 

**Microsoft will NOT be disabling or changing any settings for SMTP AUTH.**

If you have removed your dependency on basic authentication, this will not affect your tenant or users.

Additional Resources:
Office 365 Reports: It’s Time to Disable Basic Authentication in Office 365
Microsoft: Basic Authentication Deprecation in Exchange Online – September 2022 Update
Microsoft Ignite: Disable Basic authentication in Exchange Online

 

Morefield is here to help you make smart technology decisions and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

For additional information on our Managed Service Agreements and proactive IT support, please give us a call at 717-761-6170 or email us.

Finding the Right IT Provider: Avoid These 8 Mistakes

Your business can benefit a lot from working with an IT provider. However, you need to avoid several key mistakes when choosing your team.

Time spent on trying to figure out the technology you use in your business can be costly. While doing that, you can’t focus on your business needs, which can then result in poor customer satisfaction.

This is where IT providers come into play.

They enable you to outsource hardware and computing-related services, such as managed IT security and cloud computing. IT providers can also provide a robust IT infrastructure so that you can direct your attention to revenue-generating activities.

While there are numerous IT providers to choose from, not all of them may accommodate your business’s specific needs. And integrating with the wrong team can raise your spending due to irrelevant services, recurring security issues, data backup problems, and downtime.

Therefore, you need to be extra careful when selecting your team. The only way to avoid disappointment is to avoid these eight common mistakes when looking for the right IT provider.

THE EIGHT MISTAKES

MISTAKE #1 – INSISTING ON THE NEWEST TECHNOLOGY

Many advertisers want to trick you into believing that the latest technology will resolve all your issues. While the newest virtualization or cloud offerings can boost operations in many enterprises, they might not suit your business. Hence, don’t let the hype surrounding new products dazzle you.

Carefully consider the results your IT provider will help you achieve and determine if the investment enables you to fulfill them. Your provider shouldn’t confuse you with state-of-the-art features – they should guide you and allow for seamless integration.

MISTAKE #2 – FAILURE TO CONSIDER THE RESPONSE TIMES

Determining the response times of your prospective IT providers is essential. You need to ask them how long they usually take to reply to queries and resolve problems. Be sure to gauge their onsite support efficiency, too. Not inquiring about their availability is another grave error. Your IT team should provide specialists that will monitor your system. Constant monitoring and availability can help ensure you can detect IT issues early. With this, the provider can immediately administer patches and updates to safeguard against disasters. Furthermore, your IT provider should offer simple access to their desk support. You should be able to contact them via email, phone, and chat for instant guidance.

MISTAKE #3 – NEGLECTING THE SECURITY ASPECT

Disregarding the security features of your IT provider might be the most severe mistake. Teams with improper defense mechanisms can’t shield your system from cyber attackers, increasing the risk of losing data and access to resources. To avoid this, look for IT providers that can protect you from malware and other threats. They also need to prioritize protecting your business’s confidential data, like trade secrets and customer information.

When it comes to specific security measures, your IT provider should have features that prevent data intrusions instantly upon detection. The list includes phishing attacks simulations, web content filtering, DNS security, endpoint protection, mobile device management, and dark web protection.

In addition, responsible teams should eliminate point-of-sale and network intrusions before they compromise your system. Making sure they abide by security compliance and government regulations is also paramount.

MISTAKE #4 – FORGETTING THE BUDGET

Many IT companies operate under pay-as-you-go pricing schemes. Although this helps you minimize upfront investment, adopting a large number of technologies simultaneously without considering the recurring costs can cripple your finances.

Thus, think twice before signing on the dotted line.

Research your providers thoroughly and draft your budget with professional assistance. These steps can prevent considerable frustration down the line.

MISTAKE #5 – NOT DETERMINING SCALABILITY

One of the biggest impediments to growing your company is choosing an IT provider with poor scalability.

By contrast, scalable IT teams allow your business to evolve and grow. They can continually extend their services to accommodate your company’s goals, even if these goals change.

MISTAKE #6 – OPTING FOR A NON-RESPONSIVE SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT

Service level agreements (SLAs) hold IT providers accountable for their services. It establishes standards for responsibilities, quality, scope, and delivery time in writing. Without it, you’ll have no way of ensuring transparent collaboration.

When selecting your IT provider, find one with a responsive agreement. It can help guarantee the SLA scales with their services while rendering continual improvement.

MISTAKE #7 – LACK OF TEAM TRAINING AND FEEDBACK

The story doesn’t end once you’ve found and partnered with a trustworthy IT provider. New technologies won’t magically increase your bottom line and decrease outputs.

To accomplish your goal, your employees will still need to understand how to use your new tech solutions. But bear in mind that not every team member may be able to grasp new tools easily. Some may even prefer the existing platforms. Fortunately, you can hire IT experts to train them. These professionals should simplify any complex steps and advise your staff on making the most of your new investment.
Also, some enterprises set up regular training but fail to monitor their team’s performance. This is a huge mistake, as it keeps you from assessing your employee’s response to new technologies.

So, conduct questionnaires and other forms of feedback collection to determine and address any weaknesses.

MISTAKE #8 – IGNORING EXPERIENCES WITH PREVIOUS CLIENTS

Choosing an IT provider is similar to buying standard products and services. Failure to check user reviews can lead to disappointment.
To get a clear picture of your IT team’s capabilities, analyze their current and previous clients from similar industries. Look for reviews, testimonials, and ask the provider for a list of projects and references.

After doing your due diligence, you should be able to tell whether an IT provider is an ideal match for your company. However, keep in mind that every IT team is different. For instance, they might be well-versed in the healthcare industry but have no experience working with retailers. That’s why as mentioned, stick to IT providers servicing your industry to get the best results.

FIND THE RIGHT FIT

Nobody wants to end up with a poor IT provider that can’t deliver great results, leaves your company open to cyberattacks, and causes other vulnerabilities. Your investment goes down the drain, and your operations suffer.

Luckily, we can show you a way out.

Let’s arrange a quick, 10-15-minute obligation-free chat. We can discuss more ways on how to find the right IT provider for you and ensure you get your money’s worth. Feel free to schedule a quick call with a Morefield specialist to discus what is right for your organization.

 

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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