MSP, IoT, VPN, Oh My! Your Complete Guide to IT Acronyms

Do information technology acronyms seem confusing? In our industry, we love to abbreviate technical terms to acronyms. No worries – we are here to help with the alphabet soup! Some of these acronyms may be familiar to you and you may hear them every day. Others are specific to information technology systems and challenges.

Here are the most frequently used IT acronyms you may come across in your day-to-day life or as a business owner:

AI: Artificial Intelligence

Have you ever asked “Alexa, how is the weather today?,” or “Siri, what is the best recipe for baked ziti?” This is an example of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.

Speech recognition, visual perception, and even decision-making are all examples of how artificial intelligence is changing the way we communicate and perform daily tasks.

API: Application Programmer Interface

An application programmer interface, or API, is software that allows for two separate applications to “talk” to each other. You likely use an API nearly every day but never thought about it. When looking for the best deals on a travel site, an API lets the travel site quickly collect flight and hotel availabilities from providers before showing you your options. Without an API in place, the travel site would have to manually reach out to the provider to find pricing and availability.

AWS: Amazon Web Services

AWS, or Amazon Web Services, is a cloud-services platform that offers its users database storage, content delivery, and other services. Individuals, businesses, and even government agencies rely on AWS to obtain large-scale computing services without having to build their own IT infrastructure.

Big brands like Netflix, Twitch, Turner Broadcasting, BBC, LinkedIn, Facebook, ESPN, and Twitter use AWS for storage. If you’re binge-watching your favorite new show online, chances are you are watching content stored with AWS.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol

FTP, or file transfer protocol, is one of many ways of transferring a file over the internet. While this is less common now that companies rely on the cloud to share files, some businesses still use FTP. With FTP, the files are hosted on an on-premises server and employees can upload files to share via a link, like you would do when sharing a link on Google Drive.

HaaS: Hardware as a Service

Hardware as a Service, or HaaS, is a procurement model that is similar to leasing or renting equipment. In the HaaS model, businesses essentially “borrow” their IT hardware from a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP owns the hardware and is responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

IoT: Internet of Things

The IoT, or the Internet of Things, describes all the physical objects that are interconnected over the internet or other communication networks. It’s literally the billions of devices around the world that are connected to the internet.

A good example of IoT in action is a wearable device like an Apple Watch or Fitbit. Wearables give users data about their lifestyle using the internet to collect and share the data. Other real-world examples of IoT include home security systems with cameras that are accessible online, smart appliances (think thermostats you can turn on or off from an app on your phone), and even medical devices that document health data through a wireless connection.

IP: Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol, or IP, is the set of rules by which data is sent from one computer to another over the internet. Every computer has a unique IP address – do you know how to find yours? Go to Google and type in “What’s my IP address?” That is your unique identifier when you are communicating online.

IP addresses are useful to trace a device’s location or an origin of an email and to troubleshoot network errors or identify cyber intruders.

MFA: Multi-Factor Authentication

With the increase in cyber threats over the last decade, MFA, or multi-factor authentication, has become a best practice to access private data or sensitive information. MFA requires a user to submit at least two different identifiers to log in to a website or to access files on a server.

A common example of MFA is when you have to enter a password AND a code sent to your smartphone to authenticate yourself. The banking industry uses MFA frequently, as well as websites and apps such as Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, and Apple ID.

MSP: Managed Services Provider

Another common IT acronym is MSP. A managed service provider, or MSP, is a term used to describe an organization that provides an outsourced specialized service to a business. While there are MSPs in several industries, the most common are outsourced IT services.

An IT MSP provides specialized IT support through services including technical support, cybersecurity, hardware and software installation and maintenance, help desk, network and server administration, network monitoring, and computer patching and software updates, to name a few.

SaaS: Software as a Service

Software as a Service, or SaaS, allows users to access applications and software over the internet. While the terminology may seem unfamiliar to you, you likely are already using SaaS daily. Cloud-based apps like email, calendars, and even Microsoft Office 365 are all examples of SaaS.

With SaaS, businesses do not need to install and maintain software on their own. Applications are updated and maintained through an internet connection.

VoIP: Voice Over Internet Protocol

Voice over internet protocol, more commonly known as voice over IP or VoIP, allows users to make phone calls over broadband internet. Unlike traditional phone systems, a VoIP system works by converting sound into digital voice communication and transferring it through Internet broadband.

VoIP also allows users to conduct video meetings and conference calls and is often a more cost-effective means of business communications.

VPN: Virtual Private Network

A VPN, or virtual private network, gives you online privacy by creating a private network on a public internet connection. A VPN essentially protects your data from unwanted eyes by creating an encrypted tunnel for your data. A VPN also hides your IP address and allows you to access public Wi-Fi safely.

Traveling abroad and want to access your favorite Netflix show that is only streaming in the U.S.? You can use a VPN to hide your IP address and binge-watch away!

We Focus on your IT, So You Can Focus on Your Business

Everound, Your Managed IT Services Provider

At Everound, we partner with small and medium businesses in Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the Baltimore/DC metro region and take care of their IT infrastructure and needs. We provide managed information technology services designed to help companies become more efficient, boost productivity, reduce risk, improve operations, and promote digital security.

We support national organizations and local businesses by solving IT challenges with customized information technology solutions. Our team of network engineers and technology specialists has been helping clients for more than 30 years.

When you choose to work with Everound, you are more than a ‘client,’ you are our partner. We are relationship-focused and work hard to understand your unique challenges. From day one, we will integrate seamlessly into your organization and treat your team as our team with respect and transparency; communicate with clarity; and above all, implement solutions to help your business be successful.

Let us take on your IT challenges so you can focus on your business. Reach out today for a free IT infrastructure and cybersecurity assessment.

VoIP for Business

Voice over internet protocol, or more commonly known as voice over IP or VoIP, is a type of technology that allows users to make phone calls over broadband internet. Unlike traditional phone systems, a VoIP system works by converting sound into digital voice communication and transferring it through Internet broadband.

Bottom line? If you have access to the Internet, you can call anyone in the United States or internationally with VoIP. VoIP works on any computer and offers advantages over public switched telephone networks (PSTN), also known as plain old telephone service (POTS) for business communications.

Helping Businesses Stay Connected

Advantages of VoIP for Business

There are many distinct advantages of switching to a VoIP system for business purposes. Let’s take a look at the top 8 advantages of VoIP vs. traditional hard-wired phone systems.

  1. Low Cost: Cost savings is one of the biggest advantages of using a VoIP service. VoIP telephone systems eliminate the need for individual telephone lines which can add costs over time. In addition, long-distance calls are less expensive with VoIP since you are utilizing your existing Internet connection.
  2. Higher Call Quality: When VoIP was introduced in the mid-90s, one of its disadvantages was poor call quality. With the advent of fast and stable Internet connections over the last two decades, the original quality issues have disappeared. VoIP calls are crisp and clear, with no latency issues, lags, or dropped calls.
  3. Portability: With VoIP, you can take your business phone number wherever you go, as long as you have a broadband connection. You no longer have to be tied down to a desk with VoIP – it goes where you go.
  4. Scalability: VoIP is a great choice for growing organizations. Adding an additional phone number takes minutes and does not require expensive hardware or a dedicated line. Does your business have a spike in seasonal employees or are you opening branch offices regularly? VoIP is an effective tool for growing businesses.
  5. Remote Workforce Friendly: Remote work has grown exponentially over the last two years. A VoIP phone system can support a remote workforce to help keep them connected to your business. VoIP enables both remote workers and office-based employees to be on the same system. Office-based employees can easily transfer a call from a customer to a remote worker, rather than instructing them to make another call to a separate phone number, and vice versa.
  6. Improved Customer Service: Have you ever missed an important call from a client? With VoIP, you can choose where your calls ring and how, and avoid missing important calls. For example, you can choose for the first few rings to go to your office. If you don’t answer, the call can be forwarded to a second and even third device, such as your mobile phone or tablet.
  7. Wide Array of Features: VoIP is great for making calls, but there are many other features that make VoIP a smart business decision. VoIP also includes video conferencing and conference calling that help both external and internal communications. Other features include auto-attendant, call forwarding, caller ID, voicemail-to-text, call recording, and extension dialing.
  8. Futureproofing: Older technologies such as ISDN are being phased out and businesses that use VoIP are using the modern standard for communications.
We focus on Your IT. You focus on your business.

Everound for your VoIP for Business Phone Systems

If your business is still utilizing old telecommunications technologies, Everound can help you select the right VoIP system for your business. As a managed IT services provider, we have experience helping both small businesses and large enterprises find the best solution for their needs. Our team can advise you on if switching makes sense and can help implement the changes in the most effective way possible to minimize any interruptions.

Ready to make the switch? Reach out today to discuss VoIP for your organization. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

How to Choose the Right Firewall

When putting together a robust cybersecurity plan for your business, it’s critical to include adding a firewall to your plan. A firewall is a piece of hardware or software that is placed between your internal network and the external public Internet. A firewall is designed to stop malicious intrusions on your private network.

Which kind of firewall is right for your business? There are several different types of firewalls with different levels of protection. Let’s take a look at how to choose the right firewall by examining the different types, what you should consider when choosing one, and how Everound can help you choose the right firewall for your business.

Stop Malicious Intrusions

Types of Firewalls

There are many different types of firewall architectures and each works in slightly different ways to monitor the data coming in and out of your network. While this list is not inclusive of all types of firewalls, here are several common options to consider:

  • Packet filtering firewall: A packet filtering firewall is a network security technique that controls data flow to and from a network. It is a security mechanism that allows the movement of data “packets” across the network and controls their flow on the basis of a set of rules, protocols, IP addresses, and ports. Essentially, data passes through a network in the form of small pieces called data packets. These packets will only get through the firewall if they match the predefined filtering rules set in place.
  • Circuit level gateway firewall: Unlike a packet filtering firewall, a circuit-level gateway firewall does not inspect individual packets, but rather monitors the transmission control protocol (TCP) handshaking between the packets to determine whether a requested session is legitimate.
  • Application-level gateway (proxy firewall): An application gateway or application-level gateway (ALG) filters incoming node traffic to certain specifications which means only transmitted network application data is filtered.
  • Stateful inspection firewall: A stateful firewall, or stateful inspection firewall, keeps track and monitors the state of active network connections. It also analyzes incoming traffic and looks for potential data risks.
  • Next-gen firewall: A next-generation firewall (NGFW) combines a traditional firewall with other network device filtering functions.

Think of a firewall as the virtual wall that separates your internal data from external threats. Without an effective firewall in place, a network could be susceptible to malicious threats and data breaches. If your business isn’t protected by a firewall and you are unsure which kind is best for you, a managed services provider (MSP) like Everound can help you determine what considerations are important in your selection.

What Is Important to Protect?

Considerations When Choosing a Firewall

With several different options to choose from for a firewall, consider the following questions to find the best firewall to meet your needs:

  • What are your top threats? All firewalls offer a similar function – the monitoring of network traffic. How much network traffic do you have at your business? Are you sending and receiving large amounts of data? Are your employees at risk for accidentally opening a door to your network for malicious threats?
  • Does it have DoS/DDoS protection? DoS (denial of service) and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks occur when a network is flooded by a machine or a group of machines with malicious intent. Both kinds of attacks can paralyze an organization and opting for a firewall with DoS/DDoS protection can help prevent downtime and lost data.
  • Does it send attack alerts? Some firewalls send real-time alerts when there is a potential threat or breach. Real-time alerts can inform you of when an attack was prevented and when an attack is occurring. With real-time alerts, you can stay ahead of a cyberattack and minimize impact.
  • Are you planning on scaling your business? Some small businesses don’t feel they need cybersecurity protection like firewalls, especially if they only have a few employees. Small businesses, though, can benefit from a firewall especially when starting to grow. Although media coverage focuses on cyber threats to large businesses, small businesses are also at risk.
  • Do you have remote or telecommuting employees? One of the biggest spikes in cyberattacks occurred when remote work increased during the pandemic. If you have a remote team of employees, a software firewall can help you prevent unwanted access to your network.
  • Do you need ongoing support? Before choosing a firewall, ask if the manufacturer has ongoing support. Will they help with installation and integration or are they only selling you the firewall itself? If you need ongoing support, opt for a firewall manufacturer that offers a go-to support specialist.
Protecting Your Data and Organization

Firewall Services with Everound

If you are considering adding a firewall to your cybersecurity plan and are unsure of which type is right for your business, reach out to Everound for help. Our team of cybersecurity experts has decades of experience working with business owners to select and install a firewall solution.

Everound also offers managed IT services and can support your business on an ongoing basis for your information technology needs. Reach out today to start a conversation about cybersecurity best practices including firewalls for your business. We offer a free cybersecurity risk assessment and can recommend the best firewall to protect your network from malicious traffic. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

layers of the internetThere are more than one billion web pages on the Internet, and 4.8 billion people around the world use the Internet daily. But did you know that only 10% of websites on the Internet are indexed by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines and accessible to the general public? These websites are called the “surface web,” and the other 90% of websites are the “deep and dark web.” These are the layers of the Internet.

Think of the internet as the ocean, with the surface web as the top layer and visible for miles and miles. The deep web, then, is the deeper part of the ocean just below the surface. This is also accessible to people but requires a bit of work to access. The dark web is the very bottom of the ocean and is only accessible to a small number of people who know exactly how to get there and has the resources and time to do it.

Let’s take a look at what kinds of web pages are on each layer (surface, deep, and dark), and what that means to the general Internet user.

Easily Accessible Content

What is the Surface Web?

The surface web includes websites that we are all familiar with and likely access on a daily basis. This is the portion of the Internet that is readily available to the general public and searchable with standard web search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The surface web is also known as the “Visible Web.”

The surface web includes websites like:

  • Social media sites including Facebook and Instagram
  • Business websites such as Everound.com
  • Wikipedia
  • Online video sharing platforms like YouTube

Essentially, any website that appears after you complete a search on Google or another search engine is on the surface web.

Accessed Through Authentication

What is the Deep Web?

Unlike the surface web, the deep web is part of the Internet where the contents are not indexed by search engines. The deep web is only accessible with some sort of authentication – a password or other means to be able to view the data and information. Using the previous ocean analogy, a person needs to have a resource to go “below the surface.”

Why is information on the deep web harder to access? Without authentication, that information is at risk for public consumption.

The deep web contains sensitive information like:

  • Personal email accounts
  • Content on your social media accounts
  • Online banking and investments
  • Private online databases
  • Medical records and private health information
  • Content contained within scientific and academic databases.

A lot of what exists on the deep web consists of personal information that you wouldn’t want to turn up in a web search — like your social security number or credit card information. This is private and could be misused in a data breach.

Remember, if you must provide a username, password, or some other type of authentication, the information you access is on the deep web.

Intentionally Hidden on the Internet

What is the Dark Web?

The dark web IS a part of the deep web but cannot be accessed through traditional web browsers. The dark web is intentionally hidden on the Internet. Originally designed to share information and communicate by the US Military, the dark web is now accessed by others.

Accessing the dark web is not an easy task for the general Internet user. Regular browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are unable to access dark web websites. The dark web uses what’s called The Onion Router (often referred to as Tor) hidden service protocol. “Tor” servers are undetectable from search engines and provide complete anonymity.

Although not all activity on the dark web is harmful, there is a growing population of cybercriminals that use the dark web maliciously and for illicit purposes. Some cybercriminals sell sensitive information on the dark web that can be used to exploit companies and can lead to identity theft. The dark web also is a place where some cyber attacks are planned.

Here are a few examples of what can be found on the dark web:

  • Stolen information: If a company experiences a data breach because of a cybersecurity failure, there’s a chance the stolen data may be up for grabs on the dark web. Other stolen information for sale includes login credentials and hacked Netflix and Amazon accounts.
  • Illicit substances: Believe it or not, you can find and purchase illicit drugs and toxic chemicals on the dark web. Prescription drugs are also available on the dark web.
  • Dangerous and disturbing images and information: Unfortunately, the dark web can be a dangerous and ugly place. Human trafficking, pornography, gore, and counterfeit goods have found a home on the dark web.

The dark web can be a marketplace for illegal behavior. Companies with a cybersecurity plan in place that includes dark web monitoring can stay ahead of cybercrime on the dark web. Employee information can be at risk – logins and passwords are prime data that can be sold and transferred on the dark web.

Website hackers, too, find ways to compromise company networks through the dark web. A dark web monitoring MSP (managed service provider) can help you keep track of any information that may be compromised.

Protecting Your Data and Organization

Cybersecurity and Dark Web Monitoring with Everound

As a cybersecurity expert, Everound can help monitor the dark web for your small business or corporate enterprise. Through a strategic, customized and intentional approach, our team of cyber experts will create a cybersecurity dark web monitoring protocol that includes:

  • Real-time alerts of dark web threats
  • Routine scan of dark web for your business information
  • Detection of compromised credentials including IP addresses, email addresses, and logins and passwords

Cybersecurity companies like Everound are experts at preventing cyber threats from infiltrating your business. With more than 30 years of experience, our team of cybersecurity professionals can recommend and implement data protection strategies and programs to help keep your information and your network safe from harm. Reach out today for your free cybersecurity risk assessment. We focus on IT so you can focus on your business.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise and are making national and global news headlines and for good cause. In 2020, there was a 150% increase in attacks and a 300% increase in the amount of ransom paid. This increase does not appear to be slowing down either. To date, the amount of ransomware attacks in 2021 has surpassed all of last year. What is contributing to this increase?

While there are several factors that have contributed to the increase, one main reason was the immediate shift to remote work during 2020. Almost overnight, many businesses went 100% remote without a cybersecurity plan in place. Workers were utilizing their personal computers and laptops and logging on from home on unsecured VPN networks rather than connecting at the office through a secure network. Cybercriminals were able to exploit security weaknesses at both large and small businesses.

Do you know your risk for a ransomware attack at your business? Let’s take a look at how ransomware attacks have changed, who is at risk for an attack, and ways to reduce your risk.

More Sophisticated Attacks

How Ransomware Attacks Have Changed

When you think of a ransomware attack, you may think of a lone person sitting in a dark basement hacking into a company’s network trying to gain access to sensitive information. The hacker gains access to the company through phishing emails and once in the network, deploys malware that encrypts servers and sensitive company data. While this methodology still occurs, the entire process has evolved, is more organized, and is a massive, profitable business.

While there are still ‘lone wolves’ executing ransomware attacks, most data breaches occur at the hands of a group of sophisticated, strategic cybercriminals. These organizations, usually located in eastern Europe, are extraordinarily adept at infiltrating a company’s servers and planting ransomware. They extract as much sensitive company information as possible in order to demand ransom payments.

Another factor in the increase of ransomware attacks is ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS). Think of RaaS as a franchise model for ransomware attacks. Large-scale, organized groups of cyber criminals, such as DarkSide and REvil, franchise their capabilities such as encryption tools, communications, and ransom collections to independent hackers in exchange for a percentage of the collected ransom. This model has allowed ransomware attacks to be outsourced across the globe.

Is Your Business at Risk?

Who Is at Risk for an Attack?

Ransomware is a profitable business and ransom demands have escalated over the last two years. It’s no surprise that attackers are targeting large organizations who are likely to pay a ransom rather than have their business frozen for more than a day or two. Several different industries have been targeted recently including healthcare and critical infrastructure. The highly visible Colonial Pipeline attack crippled the company and the fuel supply chain on the East coast.

While large-scale ransomware attacks have made the news, there are many more that do not make national headlines. Small organizations are also at risk for an attack, especially by bots programmed to use a ‘shotgun approach’ at ransomware. These bots will scan thousands of company websites looking for email addresses, social media profiles, and any other personal data to use in a cyber attack.

Ransomware attacks are hitting close to home in Central Pennsylvania. Last year, the Duncannon borough in Perry County paid tens of thousands of dollars to hackers who held municipal data hostage. Although service was uninterrupted, the borough’s e-files, data, and emails were encrypted, and backup systems were compromised.

 

The bottom line – almost any organization is at risk for a ransomware attack. If you are a business owner, how do you reduce your risk for a cyber attack?

Start with Preparation

How to Reduce Your Risk

The best way to reduce your risk of a ransomware attack is to prepare for one. When you go through the process of preparing for a cyber attack, you will identify potential vulnerabilities and be able to address them prior to an attack.

Here are some key ways to prevent ransomware:

  • Create an incident response plan: A cybersecurity incident response plan helps companies prepare for, detect, respond to, and recover from cybersecurity incidents. The plan should address issues like malware detection, data theft, and service outages.
  • Invest in cybersecurity insurance: Cyber insurance is designed to mitigate losses from a variety of cyber incidents, including data breaches, business interruption, and network damage. It generally covers your business’ liability and helps in recovering compromised data. If you do not have cybersecurity insurance, your IT department, legal department, or your managed IT services provider can help you procure insurance.
  • Set up a secure texting channel: One of the first casualties of a cyber attack is internal communication via email. To ensure senior leadership can communicate without access to email, set up a secure texting app.
  • Use multifactor authentication (MFA): MFA is an electronic authentication process where a user is granted access to a website or application only after successfully providing two or more pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism. MFA processes reduce the risk of ransomware since it creates an additional barrier to access of data.
  • Provide regular cybersecurity training: Most network weaknesses and cyber attacks are caused by human error. Regular cybersecurity training can drastically reduce the risk of an attack.
  • Consult with a cybersecurity company: Cybercriminals have years of training and prep to be able to be successful at what they do and one of the best ways to stay ahead of an attack is to work with a company that specializes in cybersecurity. A reputable company will help you put a plan in place to reduce your risk of an attack as well as continuously monitor your network for suspicious activity.

While no company is 100% protected from becoming a victim of ransomware, you can reduce your risk by taking proactive steps and be prepared if an attack happens.

Keeping Your Data Safe

Everound for Your Cybersecurity Needs

Everound specializes in cybersecurity best practices for small businesses to large enterprises. Our team of cybersecurity experts can help you create an incident response plan, help procure cybersecurity insurance, and implement data protection strategies and programs to keep your information and network safe.

Reach out today to start a conversation about cybersecurity for your business. We can provide a free cybersecurity risk assessment and recommend next steps to protect your data. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

Across almost every industry, computers are essential to keeping a business operating smoothly. Computers improve employee efficiency, accuracy, and can speed up many work processes. As a business owner, knowing when to replace your work computer can be challenging.

If you wait too long, you can incur expensive support and service costs, and if you replace desktops and laptops too soon, you aren’t maximizing your original investment. So, how do you know when to keep or replace your older PCs? Let’s take a look at the average lifespan of computers, our recommended refresh cycle for a business, and key indicators a computer is starting to fail.

How Long Should Your PC Last?

Average Lifespan of Computers

Like all electronics, computers will slow down and become less useful as they age. Environmental conditions, accidents, and normal wear and tear take their toll on both PCs and laptops, causing functional issues. Computers don’t last forever and having a replacement plan in place can help business owners plan for IT budget needs.

The average lifespan of a computer is typically three to five years. Desktop computers should last at least three years, and laptops, between three and five years. There are several factors that contribute to how long a computer will last for an employee including:

  • Environmental factors: Computers require a cool environment to work properly. When they become overheated, the fans will kick on to try to cool down the internal components. The fans can draw dust and other allergens inside the computer which can clog up vents and prevent air from flowing freely. Computers that are used in factory environments tend to have a much shorter lifespan than computers in a cool, clean office space.
  • Usage: One factor that contributes to your computer’s lifespan is the manner in which it is used. If you only use the computer for spreadsheets and word processing, you may be able to extend its life an extra year or so past the average lifespan of a PC. For more sophisticated tasks that require applications, you may find your older computer is slow and struggles to keep up with the increased processing demand.
  • Unsafe cybersecurity practices: Nothing shortens the lifespan of a computer quicker than unsafe cybersecurity practices. Even the newest PC can die quickly if infected with malware or viruses. If you are a business owner, be sure to follow best practices for cybersecurity to ensure your computers – and your investment – are protected. Regularly install updates and patches for your computers’ operating systems and be proactive with cybersecurity training for your team. Many malware attacks are successful because of human behaviors.

At Everound, we recommend business owners adopt a 25% refresh cycle with their computer inventory rather than replacing all computers at the same time. Essentially, instead of purchasing new computers for all workstations at once, business owners can replace 25% of them each year. This cost-effective strategy allows for hardware capital expenses to be budgeted over four years instead of one.

Know the Signs of an Aging Computer

Key Signs You Should Replace Your Computer

There are several key signs to watch for when considering if you need to replace your work computers including:

  • Security is out of date: If your current computers are incompatible with newer versions of their operating systems, it may be time to invest in new computers. When the operating system is incompatible, important security patches and updates will not be installed on your PC. Check your Windows and Mac machines for OS compatibility to make sure your security is up to date.
  • Increasing support costs: Are your team members consistently asking your go-to IT staff member for help troubleshooting issues? Even if this is an internal employee, there is a real support cost affecting your bottom line.
  • Noisy fans: Are the fans on your computer constantly running? This is a key indicator that your computer is running “hot” and its internal components are at risk for damage. If you’re running the latest versions of an application or operating system, these could be maxing out your computer hardware, causing it to run warmer than usual.
  • Applications take a long time to load: Applications may take longer on an older computer. If you’re running the most up-to-date version of an application, older hardware may not be able to keep up. Before installing software, check the compatibility to ensure it will work with your computer.
  • Slowed productivity and lost time: According to a study by Intel, employees are 19% less productive on a PC that is older than 5 years. If your work computers cause an hour of downtime per day for a month, that equates to 20 hours per month. What is the value of that lost time?

If your PCs or laptops are experiencing any of the key indicators they need to be replaced, a managed IT service provider can help you determine the best path to replace hardware in a cost-efficient manner. Everound offers monthly managed IT service plans that help business owners assess and determine how to replace computers to maximize efficiency and productivity.

Keeping Your Team Supported

Everound for Your Hardware Needs

At Everound, we work with small businesses to large corporations on their IT needs including computer procurement, installation, hardware and software maintenance, and computer refresh plans. Our team of experienced IT professionals can help you determine the best course of action to keep your computers operating at peak performance. Reach out today for a free hardware assessment for your business. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

How fast does hardware become outdated? Let’s look at a piece of hardware almost everyone is familiar with – the iPhone. In the last five years, there have been 7 different versions released. With the average cost of an iPhone sitting at around $750, many people often skip a few generations of iPhones until they can afford the next “new” one. No big deal, right? Even the oldest model of an iPhone still makes calls and sends text messages.

 

For business IT hardware, though, (think firewalls, servers, and networking equipment), having an old, outdated version can create a risk for business owners, and hinder efficiency. If you are a small or mid-sized business owner operating on a tight budget, how do you keep your hardware up to date without a huge capital expenditure?

The answer is Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

What Is Hardware as a Service?

Hardware as a Service, or HaaS, is a procurement model that is similar to leasing or renting equipment. In the HaaS model, businesses essentially “borrow” their IT hardware from a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP owns the hardware and is responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

The service model can be set up in different ways. For some businesses, it makes sense to pay a monthly fee for the hardware, and in other cases, HaaS is incorporated into a broader managed service agreement that includes other services like help desk support and IT consulting.

 

Benefits of HaaS Solutions

In our fast-paced technology world, owning hardware can be expensive, cumbersome, and challenging for business owners. HaaS offers an alternative approach to hardware and IT infrastructure needs that can help business owners reduce the stress of keeping up with how quickly technology changes.

There are several ways HaaS can benefit businesses including:  

  • Low, Upfront Costs: One of the biggest advantages of HaaS is there are no large capital expenditures for a business owner. Businesses do not have to spend a lot of money to provide the most up-to-date IT infrastructure for their business. This is especially beneficial for startups and small businesses that do not have a hefty budget for hardware. HaaS essentially turns a large capital expense into a more manageable operating expense. 
  • Staying Current: One major benefit of HaaS is that the MSP keeps hardware equipment current with the latest technology. When a new version of a particular technology arrives, the MSP oversees updating it for the business owner. HaaS clients do not have to stress over investing in tech that might become obsolete quickly after purchase. The MSP is incentivized to make sure their client has the best and latest equipment. 
  • Worry-Free Maintenance: When businesses opt for HaaS with an MSP, the responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep shifts to the MSP, not the business owner. Since the MSP owns the equipment, they will provide not only the hardware itself but also provide routine service and maintenance as part of the HaaS agreement. Business owners can forget about expired warranties and potential equipment failures – the MSP takes care of making sure everything is working and operating at peak performance. 
  • Tighter Security: When it comes to cybersecurity, new is often better. Cybercriminals are a savvy group and are constantly working on new ways to access businesses’ sensitive data. Not only are they targeting software, but they are also targeting vulnerable, outdated hardware. With HaaS, it is easy to upgrade to the latest hardware technology designed to create optimal endpoint security. 
  • Scalability: HaaS often makes the most sense for small and medium businesses that are on a growth plan. As businesses grow, their technology needs also grow with them. When growing businesses add new employees, expand their service offerings for their clients, or add additional office locations, they need to invest in their technology infrastructure to meet their business goals. HaaS helps businesses scale efficiently as they grow.

Everound: Your Hardware as a Service Partner

At Everound, we understand the challenges businesses face with keeping their hardware operating at a level that meets and exceeds their business goals. We offer both HaaS as an independent service and as part of a monthly managed IT services plan. Our HaaS packages can be customized to meet the specific needs of a business and often includes:

  • Firewalls: Firewalls are a line of defense against security threats, and one of the last pieces of equipment business owners think of when purchasing or upgrading IT hardware. With HaaS, Everound provides the latest firewall solutions to help prevent cyber threats.
  • Servers: A server is a central piece of hardware in a computer network that stores, sends, and receives data. It provides functionality for the entire IT infrastructure of a business. Through HaaS, Everound offers servers either on-site or in the cloud, depending on need.
  • Wi-Fi or networking equipment: Wi-Fi and networking equipment includes devices such as network switches and access points. Everound can help your business stay connected and online with Wi-Fi and networking equipment.  
  • Battery backups: Battery backup and smart surge protection devices, such as Wattboxes, can help protect your business from downtime. Power and electricity outages, surges, and brownouts can be prevented with minimal investment. These can cause data loss and physical damage to your computer components.

Curious if Hardware as a Service is right for your business? Reach out today to learn more about how we can help. Let us focus on your IT needs so you can focus on your business.

Big companies almost always have an information technology department. The IT team not only helps the organization with troubleshooting errors and issues but also provides long-term planning and overall business support and strategic planning.

If you’re a small business owner, though, chances are you do not have an IT department. So how do you manage your information technology to keep your business running smoothly? Do you need an IT department for your small business? And when do you hire someone to take on the IT functions? Before you hire an IT manager, it’s important to understand the role of an IT department, the financial investment in hiring, and when to scale up the IT team as your business grows.

Role of the IT Department

The IT department is typically known as the team that “fixes things.” When a computer crashes, the printer has an error, or someone forgets their password, they call the IT guys. In reality, though, an IT department does much more than troubleshooting (although they do that, too).

The IT department is a critical component in overall business success. The team has three areas of concern – governance of a company’s technological systems, maintenance of IT infrastructure, and monitoring and improving the functionality of all systems.

 

Governance of Technological Systems

IT governance is the ‘big picture’ of how IT integrates into the overall business. It examines all the ways IT can provide a return-on-investment for a business owner and its stakeholders. For example, if a business goal is to increase customer service response times, the choice of software to meet that goal would fall under IT governance. IT governance ensures businesses have appropriate decision-making processes and controls in place so that the interests of all stakeholders are balanced.

IT governance is essentially a set of policies and procedures designed to align IT functions with overall business strategy and success. Having a formal set of standards in place helps to maximize value, set IT strategy, reduce risk, and measure performance.

Maintenance of IT Infrastructure

Most businesses understand this function of an IT department – maintaining the IT infrastructure. This includes many of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tasks such as:

  • Software and hardware maintenance for physical and virtual environments
  • Network administration
  • Data and storage upkeep including cloud systems
  • Management of virtual and remote assets
  • Implementation and maintenance of wireless and wired access
  • Email management
  • Cybersecurity programming

Monitoring and Improving System Functionality

IT departments just don’t “set it and forget it” when it comes to IT infrastructure. The IT department continually monitors and improves functionality to minimize loss and maximize return. Using tools, employee feedback, and documentation, the IT department refines and improves the current systems.

 

Financial Investment to Start an IT Department

 

Small businesses can hire an in-house IT professional if they have the financial stability and resources to grow their staff. The financial investment varies widely depending on the type of IT professional needed to support the business. According to Indeed.com, the average salaries of the most common IT professionals are:

  • Computer Support Technician: $33,000
  • Computer Support Specialist: $34,000
  • IT Support Specialist: $41,500
  • IT Technician: $74,400
  • Computer Systems Analyst: $76,000
  • Systems Administrator: $79,000
  • IT Manager: $85,000
  • Director of Information Technology: $120,000

The cost of hiring an IT professional extends beyond the salary. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, the average cost of hiring a new employee can exceed $4,000.

Scaling IT as Your Business Grows

For any business, having the right people in place can make all the difference in the success of the organization. How do you know when it’s the right time to add an IT team? What works for some businesses may not work for others, so it’s important to first assess your situation to determine when – and if – you should hire. If you own a small business, ask yourself:

  • Does someone at my organization take on IT tasks in addition to their regular workload?
  • Do I need to support a remote work environment?
  • Am I at risk for a cyber threat? Do I have sensitive information that could be hacked?
  • Do I have applications or computer programs that require support? Is this managed by a vendor?
  • Does my business model rely primarily on e-commerce?

If you answered yes to these questions, you should consider adding IT support to your small business. But what if you cannot afford to add a full-time team member to your staff? The good news is you can get the IT support you need through Managed IT Services.

Managed IT Services for Small Businesses

Many small business owners are operating on tight budgets and cannot financially support an in-house IT team. Managed IT Services is a way to get the IT support you need that works with your budget and goals.

Managed IT Services allows business owners to delegate their ongoing information technology processes to a third-party company like Everound that specializes in the IT industry. For a fraction of the cost of hiring an IT professional, Managed IT Services improves overall organizational efficiency and productivity while also reducing operating expenses.

As a Managed IT Services provider, Everound offers IT support including:

  • Help Desk
  • Network and Server Administration
  • Network Monitoring
  • Hardware and Software Installation and Configuration
  • Computer Patching and Software Updates
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Software Customization
  • After Hours Support

If you own a small business and are ready to add IT support in a cost-efficient way, reach out today to discuss how we can help. We can work with your budget to support you and your IT needs. Let us focus on your IT so you can focus on your business.