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Working from home more since COVID? Five IT changes to explore.

During the COVID-19 pandemic a lot of companies adopted working from home as a necessity.

Since restrictions started to relax, many of those companies have decided to keep their working from home policies intact, at least for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, we wanted to list out a few areas where a lasting shift to having fewer people in the office should prompt a review of your IT setup.

1. Migrate on premises systems to the cloud

With a more distributed workforce, it's time to evaluate whether a central location for your servers and databases still makes sense. Moving services like this can make them more easily accessible to users, especially ones who are geographically distant. You'd also move to a model which frees up capital to put to better use, and enjoy higher levels of service availability, too. Fewer servers in the office means lower power consumption, fewer (if any) uninterruptable power supply units, freed up space where you can put people not equipment and much more - what's not to love?

2. Review your VPN and your firewall setup

When you bought your firewall, chances are you specified it because of the total throughput it offered (linked to the rating of your Internet connection) and the number of users it supported while they were in the office. But now, most of your users are outside the office, and possibly connecting back in via VPNs. Two things to note here, firstly the number of supported VPN clients may not be adequate, and secondly the throughput of your firewall will drop by around a half when all the VPN connections are active.

You can see if the number of VPN connections means you need a firewall upgrade, or you can move to cloud services to reduce the VPN requirement, or you can even migrate to a Firewall as a Service solution such as the one we offer to provide you with a more appropriate network architecture.

3. Review the need for redundancy

Say you have a primary Internet circuit into your office, with a lesser rated backup line. With fewer people in the office these days, and a workforce that's more accustomed to working remotely, you might think about whether you really need that backup line after all. If you have no critical on premises servers or databases, and the primary line fails, your contingency plan can just be to work remotely until the line is fixed.

Oh, and you should shop around for cheaper bandwidth anyway if you're out of contract with your telecom provider.

4. Reduce your office's Internet bandwidth

This one's fairly basic, in fact. If you now have far fewer employees in the office on a typical day than you did before the pandemic, you should recalculate your Internet bandwidth and firewall requirements. You could find that if you're out of contract you can significantly reduce your telecom bill, and of course even better savings can be found if you seek out a few competitive quotes. While there's no immediate need to look at changing your firewall unless it's at the end of its useful (and supported) life, but when that time comes the reduced bandwidth may be enough to mean a lower rated, less expensive firewall, too.

5. Generally, spruce up your local area network

Of all IT infrastructure, networks often get neglected more than others. With fewer people in the office it's a great opportunity to perform some much needed housekeeping on your LAN:

  • Make sure all switches, firewalls and wireless access points are upgraded to the latest firmware. This can eliminate connection issues with more up-to-date network cards in laptops and desktops, and it will close down security vulnerabilities too.
  • If you're a small organization that's grown significantly, you might have lots of network hubs and splitters that got installed as cheap and easy ways to add more computers - with fewer people in the office it's time to start removing those where you can to improve network performance.
  • Reboot the network. Cycling the power on your network equipment can clear out the devices' memory and keep everything running happily. It also tests that that your network devices will come back online and connect after a power outage. We've seen offices where power outages were actually the only times the network got rebooted!
  • If you have any wireless access points sitting on top of filing cabinets or desks, now's the time to mount them properly - these devices are often directional, so in addition to stopping people from accidentally nudging them you can get much faster Wi-Fi speeds with proper mounting.
  • Check network cables for damage and fraying, replace anything that's not in good condition.

If you'd like, get in touch with us and we'll be happy to take a look at these for you and see which make sense for your business - drop us a line!

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