Is ChromeOS Flex Right for Your Business?

chromeos

With a long-running business, your technology may not be up to date with the latest software or systems. Perhaps you have desktops collecting dust in a storage room or laptops that no longer run as fast as they used to. You might be thinking that these outdated devices are just taking up space but they can actually be transformed into something useful. Google launched a new operating system called ChromeOS Flex which may help old devices “come to life” again.

What is ChromeOS Flex?

ChromeOS Flex is a new and improved operating system developed by Google this past summer. It utilizes the same operating system as Chromebooks. Any user is able to use this browser-based operating system. Chromebooks are simplistic in the sense that they only support a web browser that contains cloud-based applications. In reality, many companies only need cloud-based apps to function in their daily work tasks. This is a practical way of turning outdated devices into something that can assist customers with their everyday operations.

Features

The highlighting features of ChromeOS Flex are its easy installation and price. ChromeOS Flex is free to download and can be deployed on any device, old or new. Users must have a USB drive or a corporate network to install the operating system.

ChromeOS Flex is easily managed using the Google Admin console through the Chrome Enterprise Upgrade. The dashboard can be utilized to manage applications and policies from anywhere. This option has an additional cost per user per month. 

ChromeOS Flex is better for business and the environment. It utilizes approximately 19% less energy consumption than other devices. By downloading ChromeOS Flex into existing devices, the amount of e-waste generated is greatly reduced.

From a security standpoint, ChromeOS Flex is very safe. The majority of malware attacks occur in the more commonly known operating systems like Windows and macOS. ChromeOS Flex provides protection from evolving threats such as ransomware, malware, and any possible employee errors.

Considering that ChromeOS Flex is basically a web browser, most people already know how to use it. This is a practical solution to enhance outdated devices without the addition of a difficult learning curve. ChromeOS Flex also runs background updates that reduce device downtime and improve overall productivity.

Can ChromeOS Flex Work for You and Your Business?

Is ChromeOS Flex the right operating system for your organization? The answer to that question is contingent on the solutions your business needs to be productive and efficient in day-to-day tasks. A company that relies solely on cloud-based applications will likely benefit from ChromeOS Flex. On the other hand, if your company depends on Windows, Mac, or other exclusive software, then ChromeOS Flex may not work for your business.

To determine if ChromeOS Flex is an appropriate choice for your business needs and operations, contact 4 Corner IT today at 954.474.2204. For any additional questions or to learn more about ChromeOS Flex and other technology solutions on the market, give us a call today.

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Tip of the Week: Maintaining Software that Fits Your Business

update software

Businesses use different types of software to fulfill various tasks and functions throughout the workday, but there are certain practices you can implement today that can help you better manage your software solutions. Here are three ways your organization can take better care of its software infrastructure, regardless of industry or business size. 

Be Wary of Shadow IT 

If you don’t provide employees with the tools they need to do their jobs effectively, they will more often than not go out of their way to find tools themselves. This can lead to unregulated software on your infrastructure that is not monitored or maintained by your business, also known as “shadow IT.” The easiest way to prevent shadow IT from becoming a thing for your business is to make sure your staff have access to all of the solutions they need right from the get-go. This might mean providing them with an entire productivity suite or specialized software based on their role within your organization. 

Appropriately Manage Subscriptions 

In today’s age of “as a service” offerings, it’s easy to purchase a solution for one project but forget to cancel it when the project is done and over with. These additional subscriptions that are entirely unnecessary can add up if you aren’t paying attention. We recommend that you perform an audit on the regular to ensure that you aren’t paying for services that are not being used on a regular basis. 

Apply Software Patches and Security Updates 

Software developers frequently have to issue patches and security updates to their creations to offset the progress made by hackers or to cover up oversights during the initial development cycle. It’s your responsibility to make sure any patches or updates are applied in a timely manner; failing to do so could put your business at risk of security issues down the road.  

One way many businesses have managed to successfully keep tabs on their software infrastructure is to implement Software-as-a-Service offerings for the majority of their operations. SaaS helps businesses by providing them with an affordable and scalable infrastructure for their software needs, including an easy way to manage licenses and subscriptions. We also recommend you implement a software management platform that gives you the ability to see, at a glance, all of the applications in use on your infrastructure at any given moment. 

4 Corner IT can help your organization implement any SaaS offering or software management platform. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at 954-474-2204. 

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Let’s Look at Some of the Best Business Software Solutions

Happy guy looking at camera while sitting by workplace and working with software

All businesses utilize software to a certain extent, but not all companies have the same needs. That being said, there are certain types of software that all businesses can benefit from, regardless of industry or service offerings. We’ve put together a list of business software solutions that companies can utilize to improve operations.

Productivity Suites

Most businesses use a productivity suite, which is basically just a fancy way of talking about a suite of software that includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation software, email and calendar management program, and other productivity applications. In fact, we would say that it is almost a prerequisite for a business to have a productivity suite just for the ability to open and edit files or documents. Some of the most common productivity suites out there include Microsoft 365 Apps for Business and Google Workspace, but there are other more focused productivity suites for specific purposes, like the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

Similar to productivity suites, most businesses use traditional landlines to make and receive phone calls. While this was an accepted practice for some time, the more modern solution is to utilize a Voice over IP application on either a desktop or a mobile device to make and receive calls. Not only does this save you quite a bit in terms of up-front costs and operational costs, but it also makes adding new users to the infrastructure infinitely easier, as it does not involve installing new hardware (unless, of course, you want to use physical handsets).

Password Management

Passwords are a major pain point for businesses, so you need to treat them as such. While passwords can be made complex, this also makes them difficult to remember. This is where password management comes into play; these solutions offer a secure, protected vault for your passwords and can pull from this vault when the credentials are needed, removing the need to remember them entirely. It is a great way to augment your accounts’ security without compromising on password quality.

Antivirus and Other Security Solutions

It goes without saying that you need to be securing your business’ network and endpoints at all times. It doesn’t matter how small of a business you run. Hackers can and will find data on your network that presents some kind of value, whether it is to them personally or to someone on the black market. They might even be out to cause a little bit of chaos and infect your computers just for the sake of doing so. Who can say for sure? All we can say for sure is that you need to secure your network and its endpoints.

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

Encryption is a powerful tool that helps you keep your data secure, especially while out of the office. A virtual private network can encrypt data sent to and from your device, improving privacy and security while on unsecured networks. It is especially helpful when working on a public Wi-Fi connection or while traveling.

Adding new software solutions to your business’ infrastructure might sound difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. 4Corner IT can help your business implement software solutions designed to improve operations and provide sustainability for your business. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

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.