Disaster Strikes And Your IT Guy Is On Vacation – What Do You Do?
What would you do if a disaster hit while your IT guy was away? If it sounds too far-fetched to be true, check out the true story below, about a law firm left without their IT support when they needed them most.
Imagine this: your IT support guy is away on vacation, and a water main breaks not too far from your office. The city shuts down the water to the area to limit flooding, which, in turn, shuts off your A/C in the server room.
What do you do?
This is precisely what happened to a local law firm we work with. They have around 50 employees in the office every day, relying on their IT infrastructure, a key aspect of which is the A/C system that keeps the server room at an ideal temperature.
That’s why the law firm’s managing partner had long ago invested in a dedicated A/C system for the server room, one that would keep working no matter happened outside. Or, so he thought.
Despite allocating a significant amount of money for a dedicated cooling system, it never got installed. That’s why they called us – we advised that they get a portable A/C unit to keep the server room cool while the city fixed the water main. Thanks to that advice, they were able to keep working – if not, they would have had to shut everything down and stop working for the day, if not longer.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg – the story doesn’t end there.
Upon finding out that their A/C system wasn’t what they had paid for, they figured it would be prudent to have a trustworthy company take a second look at their entire IT environment. A company like Palindrome Consulting.
We assessed and evaluated the IT systems and practices implemented by their IT guy, and what do you think we found?
- Nothing about their IT was documented in any way, whatsoever
- Problems were fixed with the “band-aid” approach – that is, temporary, unreliable solutions to ongoing problems
- All their hardware and software was out of date – everything from their servers to their firewalls to their antivirus had been the left the way it is for at least ten years.
Needless to say, that IT guy wasn’t kept around much longer, and Palindrome Consulting was hired to take over the management of the law firm’s IT.
This is a powerful cautionary tale, and it begs the question…
What Assumptions Are You Making About Your Own IT?
No matter how great your current IT support may be, it’s vital that you doublecheck and verify what you’re being told from time to time. You have to be confident that you’re protected in the event that something happens (i.e. a water main breaks) or if your IT support will be unavailable for a short period of time (someone goes on vacation). Or both.
Enlisting an outside IT company like Palindrome Consulting will allow you to confirm (or correct) everything you think you know about your IT.
You should always have verifiable answers to the following questions:
What’s The State Of The Hardware?
An analysis of all of the technology at your business will help to ensure it’s all properly installed, effectively maintained, and well within its lifespan. This may sound simple, but that’s not always the case.
Is The Software Up To Date?
Now that you’ve determined how functional the hardware is, the next step is the software. Even if this technology hasn’t been turned on in a week, there will likely be some updates that have to take place. Updates are important because they correct existing errors and mistakes in software, and patch potential flaws that could leave it vulnerable to security threats. One by one, open up each program you would plan to use on a regular basis. If there are updates that need to be installed, a pop-up window will likely open on start-up. However, if your IT support personnel turned off that automatic function, you’ll need to manually check for updates, which can be done in the program preferences. Warning – installing multiple updates can take a long time. The longer that this technology has been sitting unused, expect for a much longer update process. This could potentially be hours, or even an entire working day in some situations.
What Is The Status Of Licenses And Warranties?
After double-checking that everything is up to date, the next step will be to confirm the status of any existing licenses and warranties. Depending on the type of business, there may be specific software needed for daily operations. It could be Quickbooks for accounting and bookkeeping or Oracle Micros for restaurant Point of Sales, but the bottom line is that if you need it to get work done, you should know whether you can actually use it. See, while the program may be installed on the hardware you have, that doesn’t mean that the licenses originally purchased for it won’t have expired. The most direct way to check if the license is still in good standing is often just to try to use the software. If that doesn’t answer the question for you, then try looking at the About page for the software.
Are There Any Security Measures In Place?
The key here will be to determine whether there’s just standard, baked-in security in place, or actual additional software. Check for the following security solutions:
- Password managers
- Multi-factor Authentication
On top of that, you’ll want to update all passwords on hardware and accounts specific to what you’ll be using this IT for. It’s common sense in password policy to ensure all necessary credentials are updated with strong, complex and unique passwords.
Are There Backups And Contingencies In Place?
Again, what the backup plan will really look like could vary. It could be a simple external hard drive that gets updated on a daily or weekly basis. It could be an automated backup through a consumer solution like Google Drive. In the best of cases, it would be a fully automated backup to a business platform like Microsoft Azure.
In any case, you’ll want to find out how your current IT handles backup, if any of that data is necessary for you to continue using the technology, and what you’ll need to install, configure and deploy for a backup going forward.