Why Your Business Should Start Taking Advantage of Virtualization

black and white terminal control mainframe in data center ranks among supercomputers

Businesses use a lot of technology to keep themselves competitive and operationally efficient. One way that organizations use to make their technology infrastructure more accessible is through taking advantage of virtualization. Let’s discuss what virtualization is, how it benefits businesses and some examples of how you might consider leveraging virtualization to your company’s benefit.

Virtualization for Hardware and Software

Virtualization in its most basic sense is taking something and making it virtual. In regards to hardware and software, it involves taking these parts of your technology infrastructure and making them available in a virtual environment. Virtual applications and hardware solutions can be deployed to the cloud so that they can be accessed by any online device. Some examples of virtualization might include creating virtual machines, like workstations and server units, that are hosted in a virtual environment for as-needed access.

What Benefits Are There to Virtualization?

Virtual machines are great for organizations that want to consolidate their infrastructure and improve the accessibility of resources. For example, let’s say that you have three server units for your business, one of which is dedicated to legacy applications that are not supported on the latest operating systems. You might run a virtual machine to allow these applications to do what they must with the need to run multiple servers just to make ends meet. In other words, consolidating your infrastructure allows you to simplify it and invest fewer resources to accomplish the same tasks. You also improve security, as each instance of an operating system can be isolated.

Desktop virtualization is also an incredibly useful tool that can let you run instances of operating systems on machines that might otherwise not be able to run them, and it’s all thanks to the computing power of the host machine. For example, you might utilize “thin” computing hardware, or slimmed-down desktops, for your company’s workstations. The operating system and desktop infrastructure are then accessed through the virtual environment. It’s a great way to reduce costs and simplify your infrastructure as a whole.

How Can Your Business Start Taking Advantage of Virtualization?

If your business is ready to start taking advantage of virtualization, we recommend working with 4Corner IT to determine which aspects of your business would do well in a virtual environment and what you should avoid. All businesses are different, and one solution that works for other organizations might not work for yours. We can perform a comprehensive IT evaluation to help you make this determination.

4Corner IT can help you begin taking advantage of virtualization solutions in a way that is in line with your organization’s goals. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Automation Technology: Benefits and Concerns

Robotic hand pressing a keyboard on a laptop 3D rendering

With the advent of more advanced technology, many workers are understandably concerned about automation and the impact it could have on their jobs. Computers systems grow more advanced each and every year, leading to improvements in artificial intelligence that have unskilled workers in certain industries where automation is king. Let’s explore some of these concerns, including why some of them have merit while others may be a long way off yet.

How Do We Define Automation Technology?

Automation in its most simple context is anytime technology is used to fulfill tasks that would normally be performed by humans. The idea is that as human input is minimized; workflows can be made more predictable, repeatable, and efficient, reducing the risk of user error and other unforeseen issues getting in the way. Computing systems have been using automation for a long time, but recent innovations in artificial intelligence and machine learning have opened up the floodgates to a whole new realm of possibilities, leading many workers to question whether they will be replaced by technology in the near future.

Should Workers Be Worried?

The answer to this question is not as clear as you might think. Some people are worried when they really should not be, whereas others have much more cause for concern. About a quarter of today’s workforce feel that automation might come for their jobs within the next five years. Young people in particular are worried about the future of their jobs (about 37 percent), as they are generally more aware of how technology can influence businesses to work toward automation. There is a trend showcasing that the older a worker is, the less likely they feel they can be replaced by an automated system.

Age disparity and the income difference associated with it also play a part in this equation. 34 percent of workers that make less than $50,000 annually are fearful their job will be automated. From that point onward, the fear decreases exponentially as income increases. Since most jobs being replaced by automation are filled by unskilled workers, this trend is hardly surprising.

If you look at automation by industry, you will find that many human jobs have already been lost to it. In industries like automotive, business support and logistics, advertising and marketing, and retail, automation presents considerable risk to jobholders.

Truck drivers are the perfect example of those who might be concerned about these developments in automation technology. Self-driving trucks are not just a developing technology; they are already here. With the signing of legislation and a bit of further refinement, truck drivers could very well be at risk of losing their jobs. The biggest concern here is that these workers may not have other skill sets that could land them employment elsewhere—at least not with the same financial stability as with their current profession.

The long and short of it is that most workers know if their jobs are in any danger of being replaced by automation, and while they might not be ecstatic about switching careers, the truth of the matter is that automation takes away opportunities and replaces them with new ones.

Can Automation Technology Help Workers?

While many workers worry about their jobs due to automation, much more are using it to make their jobs easier and more manageable. People have specific skill sets that allow them to succeed in any given role, but it is a fact that much of managing a business involves small repetitive tasks. Technology can be used to make these tasks easier to accomplish, allowing employees to refocus their efforts and skillsets on larger tasks that would otherwise be mired underneath everyday operations. When skilled employees are allowed to flourish in this fashion and utilize their skills to the best of their abilities, productivity can soar. If automation is used to this end, businesses have much to gain from it.

Through automation, companies can save money, work smarter (not harder), and fully leverage their available resources. When businesses are operating as efficiently as possible, the quality of their products/services and demand for them can increase, leading to the creation of more jobs and opportunities for workers. Does this scenario sound likely to you? What are your thoughts on automation in the workplace? Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comments and check our blog regularly for technology-related content.

Protect Your Business by Updating Your Software

render of hardware with band aids on it. Computer Processor Bug Patch Concept

Software is a critical part of your business. Without it, you would have to do everything manually. In fact, most businesses couldn’t do what they do without their software. That’s why it is so surprising that many businesses don’t actively patch their software. Let’s take a look at our patch management service and why it’s such a huge benefit.

A decade or so ago, keeping your software updated wasn’t as important as it is today. You might get some new features every so often, but that was usually it. Today, things are so much different. It is now one of the most important services that we provide to our clients. This is because threats have become much more prevalent and dangerous to a business.

How Patch Management Works

Basically, your software gets a fair amount of updates. Developers are constantly adding features and patching would-be vulnerabilities. If you don’t have a process in place to patch your version of the software, you can be operating with holes in your network. These holes are exploited by opportunistic hackers and then you have much bigger problems. Companies like ours and in-house IT departments need to consistently patch software to ensure those holes are filled.

Using our remote monitoring and management software we can not only keep tabs on all of your hardware and all of your network resources, we can also use it to quickly update your software. This software needs to be patched as well. In fact, there have been stories of companies that manage other companies’ networks and patch management getting hacked because they didn’t actively patch their RMM tool. Not only is this just embarrassing, it illustrates just how critical the entire process is.

2021 Challenges

When dealing with technology, if you want it to work for your business, you need to realize it’s not simple. Consider for a second all the changes that had to be incorporated over the past year:

  • The need to support remote work
  • New and expanded cloud capabilities to facilitate this remote work
  • Software management needs
  • Frequent updates to these software solutions

Every line item there has a litany of tasks associated with it. It also comes with some downtime. Software patches often require system reboots, which can lead to interrupted productivity.

Easy Patch Management Tips

At 4Corner IT, our technicians can help keep the downtime associated with patches and updates from impacting your staff’s productivity by scheduling these patches to be applied when there’s little-to-no traffic. It’s an easy solution to what could be a major problem.

If you insist on handling this issue yourself, however, here are a couple tips:

  • Know What You’re Using – You need to keep track of the software solutions that you use, just so you can be sure that all of them are maintained appropriately.
  • Respect The Need For Updates – While an individual can maybe get away with missing a software update for a little while, a business doesn’t have that luxury.
  • Maintenance Needs To Be Prompt – Once official software updates are released, they should be tested on a sample group and implemented across your network.

If you would like to get some professional perspective about your business’ software and how to manage and maintain systems that run it, give our experts a call at (954) 474-2204 today.

Tip of the Week: Selecting the Right Productivity Suite

Smiling female programmer working on computer at night, side view.

The productivity suites now available to businesses have come a long way in a relatively very short time. However, when selecting one, it is still crucial to compare your options based on a few key variables. Let’s go over these variables to make sure that the software suite you’re using is the right one for your needs.

Cost of Productivity Softwares

Naturally, we must first discuss costs, as this is perhaps the most pressing variable for most businesses. While it may be tempting to default to the least-expensive option, take a few moments and dig into the features more closely to check for any benefits that may make a slightly more expensive option the most cost-effective productivity suite.

Compatibility With Your Systems

There are a lot of platforms out there—the classic battle between Macs and PCs, and the corresponding Android versus iOS head-butting. On top of these, there are now cloud platforms to consider as well as you decide on the productivity suite you and your team put to use. Consider the headaches that would ensue if half of your team used laptops running ChromeOS, but your productivity suite was only compatible with Windows. As such, you need to make sure your chosen solution has some availability on all (or at least most) of the major computing platforms.

Mobility

On the subject of platform compatibility, it is usually best to select software that has some kind of mobility functionality. There are two reasons for this—first, mobile devices are now used more often than any other kind. Second, with so many people now functioning remotely, the kind of access that mobile options provide contribute a lot of value to the productivity suite’s platform you’re considering.

Security

This is important for obvious reasons, so you will want to check up on the security that each solution features. Today’s two most popular productivity suites, Microsoft Office 365 and Google Workspace, are delivered through cloud technologies. This was once problematic, as you’re effectively handing your data over to an external provider, but nowadays these cloud platforms are built with security at the forefront.

Communications

With communications and collaboration so critical to businesses—especially now—a productivity suite with integrations enabling such dialogues make it easier for teams to accomplish their shared goals. As a result, many of today’s most prevalent options feature some kind of collaboration baked into them, often including an email platform, video conferencing, and/or VoIP.

We can help your business acquire the IT tools such as productivity suites that are needed for modern success. Give us a call at (954) 474-2204 to learn more.

Is Your Business WiFi Network Secure?

is your business wifi network secure

More and more businesses rely on their internet connection to provide outstanding customer service and support the productivity levels of virtually every employee in their company. Not only is it important for everyone to have good access to the router, it’s also vital to ensure that only employees have access to corporate WiFi. Here are some tips for small businesses to properly secure their corporate WiFi router.

Place in a Secure Location

Many companies have customers, contractors, sales personnel, etc. walking in and out of their place of business throughout the work day. In order to keep the corporate router physically secure, it should be placed in an area that has restricted access. Only those employees who are trained in the use of the router should be given access to it.

Secure the Settings

When setting up a new router, don’t keep the default login information. Pick a different username and password and only provide those two pieces of information on a need to know basis. A password should be a strong password, meaning it should be at least 15 characters in length and consist of a mix of letters (upper and lower case), numbers, and special characters. It’s also a good idea to regularly change the password. Companies who deal with a significant amount of private customer information may want to change the password on a monthly basis. Others who deal with little private data may want to change their router password every 6 months or perhaps annually.

It’s also a good idea to change the default network name of the router. That way, hackers can’t determine simply by looking at the router name which router manufacturer (e.g., Netgear) and model they are attempting to hack.

Routers also have a WPS (WiFi Protected Setup) setting that is best disabled. This particular feature is designed to pair the router with a device at the press of a button. That’s great if the device is one that an employee is using for work-related tasks, but if an outsider is physically near enough to the router signal, they should not be allowed to pair their device with your router.

Updates

Lastly, keep your router up to date with all the manufacturer firmware updates, along with software updates for any network security your company uses as well. Technology companies often send out updates after they discover security issues, so staying abreast of updates means less chance for your company to fall victim to a security problem. 

If you have more questions regarding how to properly secure your router, please contact us!