While the economy slowly starts to regain momentum, a lot of us as small business owners learned a valuable lesson about frugality during the slowdown of the last few years. To that end, one large expense faced by businesses is their internal network infrastructure. At simpleroute, we specialize in creative networking solutions that can help you cut costs while remaining productive.
Breathe Life Into Existing Hardware
The constant replacement of machines before their time has come can be a financial drain on any business. Often times, PCs just require a simple tune-up rather than full on replacement. While viruses and other malware can certainly slow a machine, a full systems tune-up isn't limited to just virus removal. Tweaks can be performed at the operating system level and the addition of cheap hardware can often times provide large boosts in productivity in a very cost effective fashion.
Should your network include a server, there are also ways to extend the life of existing mission critical server equipment without fearing for your business. Cheaper backup options require similar hardware for a restore from backup which means your server must be under a maintenance contract. By switching to a more robust backup solution along with having a backup plan in the event of a server failure, you may be able to save on an even more expensive hardware upgrade and keep the same level of peace of mind. Switching from Exchange to alternatives as previously discussed can also help take a load off your server and simplify your backups.
Minimize Liabilities Through Disaster Planning
As businesses rely more and more on computers, the network a business runs on becomes equally important. A down network is a down business - it's one place where avoiding a penny-wise, pound-foolish approach can minimize your liabilities in the long run. Proper planning for disasters is important. A good disaster plan takes into account and balances downtime with cost to implement the plan in a way that works for your business.
When dealing with Windows Servers, many cheaper backup solutions require the exact (or similar) hardware to restore a backup. This means not having the exact same hardware at the ready can result in downtime. A warranty can help limit that downtime (say gauranteed on-site parts in 24-hours) but it doesn't completely remove it. Backup software can also be chosen such that a backup can be restored to dissimilar hardware. Critical systems such as shipping computers can be images or hot spares created that allow for the replacement to be brought up in minutes instead of hours or days. A proper disaster plan balances the time to get up and running with the cost of implementing the plan.
In all cases, having a proper disaster plan in place will minimize your liabilities in the long term. Sometimes spending a little in prevention can yield a lot in additional savings both in hardware and in downtime for your business.
Preform Preventative Maintenance
The old adage 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' is worst applied to technology. Your network is constantly under attack. New updates are regularly created to patch vulnerabilities that are found. New viruses and malware are constantly created to exploit these vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, your machines are like living creatures. They need regular checkups to make sure their internals are functioning. Ignored warning lights and ignored events which could have been fixed by replacing a failing drive or adding space to a drive before a database outgrew can prevent huge amounts of frustration and cost later.
A systems audit can provide a technician with valuable insight into your network. However, such audits are only a piece of preventative maintenance. They don't give you immediate warning of issues as they arise. What's really needed is a monitoring service such as our SimpleIT solution which can provide you with instant alerts on system wide issues. These alerts can then be addressed before they become emergencies. Such alerts also allow technicians to notice critical problems and address them faster - possibly even before they are noticed. And even more, such monitoring can give a better picture on the problem at hand. You may only see your email is down but a technician may see a service failure that helps pinpoint the roof cause. The bottom line is active monitoring can have huge cost savings on running your network.
Consider Free Open Source Software (FOSS)
One often overlooked area where companies can save a good amount of money is in the software they choose to use to do their everyday job. In many cases, a solution that is FOSS based can save in costly licensing fees associated with closed source proprietary solutions. FOSS solutions allow you to pocket much of the licensing fees you would normally shell out year after year.
Good candidates for replacement are office productivity suites such as Microsoft Office, messaging services for interoffice communication, server and desktop operating systems among many more. While not for everyone, in many cases FOSS can deliver large cost savings. Depending on the version of Office, a single license can run up to over $400 at the time of this article (multiply that by all your users and you can start to see the potential). The same goes for your server operating system where you can be paying anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a license up to well over a thousand.
While FOSS may truly be as free as software comes, many clients still like the peace of mind a support contract for such software can offer. Even factoring in that cost, a huge cost savings can be obtained by switching.
How simpleroute Can Help
We specialize in networking services for small business. Our SimpleIT system which combines active monitoring with timed audits is your best value in preventing minor issues from becoming major problems. We also specialize in system tuneups designed to give you the most of your desktops, laptops, servers and networking equipment to ensure that your business runs as fast as it can. And should you need to upgrade, we're experts and coming up with cost effective strategies to keep your network costs down and your productivity up.
Should you have any questions regarding our services, contact us today for a free consultation on how we can help your small business grow.