Time for an IT Checkup: Why A Network Assessment Is Essential for Your Business

These uncertain times surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have undoubtedly had a big impact on your business and how you operate. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, it’s likely you have needed to abruptly switch to remote network setups as a way to flex to the current market needs and social distancing guidelines. 

With this switch to remote networks, however, comes a rise in potential security risks. To defend against these threats, businesses in every industry should carefully evaluate their need for a network risk assessment right now. Getting an IT checkup to ensure your business is protected and running at optimal efficiency is the best way to keep your data safe and avoid costly damages associated with security incidents.

Here are 4 main reasons you should get a network assessment for your business today:

1. There are likely security weaknesses in your infrastructure.

Moving to a remote network can leave security holes in your infrastructure. Switching to a new setup, especially a remote one, can leave your systems vulnerable to attack if you fail to upgrade your cybersecurity.

With employees using personal devices or work devices on a personal Internet connection, your company is at a higher risk for data loss and breaches. Unprotected networks mean data is more easily accessible to threat actors, especially when shared or stored on a personal device that is not protected by an onsite server. 

A network assessment is imperative for businesses who want to protect their remote networks. With a network assessment, your provider analyzes your systems for any potential security weaknesses. They then offer suggestions for patching these weaknesses based on your unique business processes. Failing to get a network assessment means these security weaknesses can lead to more severe problems, as well as leave doors open for hackers to steal your data. 

2. Cyber attacks are on the rise.

If the security holes weren’t incentive enough, it’s essential to understand that cyber attacks are increasing as threat actors seek to take advantage of the unfortunate circumstances caused by the pandemic. Hackers know that the swift change to remote networks has left a lot of businesses inadequately protected, and SMBs are particularly vulnerable since they usually have fewer security measures in place to begin with.

Attackers are using this as an opportunity to seek out businesses that aren’t prepared for the current working conditions. Some recent examples of increased hacking include video and teleconference hijacking, data breaches, and fraud. A network assessment protects you from these incidents by evaluating your risk of being attacked and strategizing ways to mitigate that risk.

3. An assessment can reduce inefficiencies in your network.

You’ve probably had to restructure many of your digital provisions since coronavirus hit, and that can mean your systems aren’t running as efficiently as possible. As a business owner, you can’t afford to face additional damages due to inefficiencies causing downtime, lower productivity rates, or insecure digital environments.

A network assessment proactively scans your systems for inefficiencies that may be harming performance rates, uptime, or productivity levels. Your provider can then consult you on ways to eliminate these inefficiencies, allowing your business not only to save money but also better achieve your improvement goals.

4. You could be saving money.

Beyond saving money by increasing uptime and reducing inefficiencies, a network assessment can help your business find other opportunities to cut costs.

For example, you may consider consolidating software, re-evaluating per-user agreements and IT contracts, and getting rid of equipment or applications that are no longer useful for your remote environment. A network assessment gives you a closer look at the applications you may be underutilizing or that are no longer necessary given your current working conditions.

In many cases, remote workforces no longer need several different programs and applications to complete their roles. In fact, many teams tend to work more efficiently when software is consolidated and simplified into one universal platform.

To sum it up, delaying a network assessment can be damaging to the security, efficiency, and bottom line of your business. Rather than putting your time, money, and peace of mind on the line and taking a chance on your remote network setup, you’ll sleep better at night knowing your business is operating efficiently and isn’t susceptible to cyberattacks following a network risk assessment. 

5 Ways To Dramatically Cut Down IT Costs Right Now

With the spread of COVID-19 changing the way workforces operate, many businesses are experiencing significant financial challenges. As a business owner, you understand it’s essential to cut costs where you can to see this pandemic through, especially for those who are working remotely or had to limit their service offerings.

If you find yourself searching for opportunities to reduce your spending, there are several ways to reduce IT costs without putting your business at risk. Instead of cutting corners on important technology provisions such as cybersecurity, you can use these 5 tips to save money and even increase efficiency in the process:

1. Get Rid of Unnecessary Subscription Software

If your employees are working remote or if you’ve had to downsize, take a look at what subscription software you’re currently paying for and evaluate whether it’s truly necessary. There may be an opportunity to get rid of subscription software that your employees aren’t using while working remotely. 

Even if you plan to use the software again once you go back to the office, don’t hesitate to call your provider and renegotiate. Subscription-based services don’t want to lose you as a customer and will often offer you a deal or consider pausing your account until you are back onsite.

Take the time also to re-evaluate your per-user agreements. Your team may have had to eliminate certain positions during the COVID-19 pandemic, and you don’t want to keep paying for per-user software/equipment for those who are no longer working for you.

2. Consolidate Software Alternatives

It’s wise to consider ways your remote workforce could benefit from a software consolidation. For example, remote tools such as Microsoft Teams can be a great way to store all your applications in one platform, rather than pay for several separate program subscriptions. Take inventory to see which applications your team is still currently using and what alternatives may be available. 

Though you may require different provisions for your various departments—such as specific software for your design team—it’s beneficial to try to universalize software across departments. Using the same software will ensure that everyone can collaborate and work together seamlessly while also saving you money by eliminating underutilized software.

3. Switch to Hosted Voice Phone Systems

Office phone systems can be expensive, and if you have employees working from home, traditional PBX systems become virtually useless. Telecommunication solutions such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) can save you a lot of money in the long run while also serving as an ideal solution for remote workforces. 

Of the many benefits hosted voice systems have to offer—including enhanced conferencing, voicemail, and video features—perhaps the most important is that they reduce costs significantly. To illustrate, a system for 12 users costs an average of $800 on VoIP, while you can expect to pay about $2,500 for a landline with the same amount of users. 

While you can always call your landline provider and let them know you’re considering switching to VoIP to see if they’ll offer you a discount, you’ll likely find that switching to VoIP is more beneficial in the long run. The lack of onsite wiring and hardware makes this cloud-based phone a simple, secure solution for remote workforces at a fraction of the cost of traditional phones.

4. Stop Leasing Onsite Printers

Some companies lease printers for every department, which can cost them hundreds of dollars per month. 

As a lessee, you end up paying more than market value for your printers, whose services you may not even need while your workforce is remote. In addition to paying more for the actual cost of the printer, many businesses overpay for maintenance plans. 

Now that you’re remote, there’s no need to continue leasing these printers. Even if you do plan to go back to the office eventually, buying printers outright is still much more cost-effective for businesses. 

5. Invest in Strategic IT Outsourcing

It may be time to look beyond company walls for help when it comes to managing your IT in the most cost-effective way. 

To help out their IT teams that are spread thin and overworked, many businesses are turning to managed IT services. Outsourced IT allows your IT team to take the mundane IT tasks off their plate and turn them over to an outside expert while they focus on more strategic, mission-critical initiatives. This, in turn, reduces overall downtime and allows you to better align your technology with your business goals. 

Managed Service Providers can save you money not only on a month-to-month basis with their cost-effective service fees, but they also save you money by eliminating costs associated with overlooked zero-day vulnerabilities, unused equipment, and more. 

Another benefit to managed IT services is that they offer a team with a diverse set of specialties. With support around the clock—including comprehensive cybersecurity—outsourcing your IT also allows you and your employees to focus on the core functions of your business so you can meet and exceed your goals quicker. And as every business owner knows, higher productivity rates equal higher profits.

In sum, there are several ways to better manage your IT budget and cut costs without reducing the quality of your IT provisions. In fact, in many ways, these cost-effective IT solutions are more advantageous for businesses than their higher-cost alternatives. Examining your business needs and considering these solutions is a great way to ensure your business survives not only the current pandemic but future challenges, as well.

Webinar: Dominating The Data Explosion Dynamic

It’s Time To Simplify Data Management

According to a 2019 Gartner report, enterprises will triple their unstructured data stored as file and object storage from what they have in 2019. This exponential growth makes it increasingly challenging to protect, manage, and gain insights from all of your data. 

How do you deal with this growing complexity? How do you manage the patchwork of infrastructure silos across data centers and clouds? And most importantly how do you eliminate the unnecessary business cost, risk, and operational burdens that come with this complexity?  In this webinar, our friends from HPE and Cohesity will address all these questions and much more.

What You’ll Learn:

  • What the explosion of unstructured data means for your business
  • How to consolidate storage infrastructures 
  • What smart, efficient, secure, data storage looks like? 
  • How to lower the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of your storage
  • The benefits of Cohesity SmartFiles in managing unstructured data

What SMBs Have Learned from COVID-19

Whether it’s meant shrinking teams, updating processes, or temporarily halting the production of goods and services—among all of the businesses hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, SMBs have been hit hardest. 

One of the biggest changes that small and medium-sized businesses have had to face is the abrupt switch to remote working. This has been an especially difficult process for SMBs that didn’t have a proper business continuity plan for IT in place before the pandemic hit.

IT is the heart of many modern businesses, and any inefficient cybersecurity or technology setup can have a huge impact on business success. As SMBs have had to adapt to remote work culture and deal with IT inefficiencies, here are some of the top things they’ve learned during the pandemic:

You’re Only as Good as Your Business Continuity Plan

As the old saying goes, “If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail.” This sentiment has never been truer than for businesses in the midst of a pandemic that has seen a massive shift to remote working. 

A business continuity plan for modern companies is critical to protect your digital assets and maintain productivity through the use of your technology. Without a solid continuity plan that has been simulated and revised over time, businesses are left scrambling to fill in the sudden gaps caused by an IT disaster such as the pandemic we’re experiencing.

If your business continuity plan didn’t quite succeed in helping to prepare for COVID-19, you’ve probably already felt significant impacts as a result. Whether it’s dealing with increased downtime, unnecessary costs, or security incidents, unprepared SMBs have found that neglecting their business continuity plans has not been worth the headache.

SMBs have started turning more and more to managed IT services as a result, seeking out expert infrastructure management and consulting to develop a stronger contingency plan. Your Managed Service Provider should work with you to constantly revise your plan to ensure it is able to protect your business and its rates of productivity, no matter what happens.

Your Team Needs Reliable Telecommunication Services

As many SMBs have discovered, a team that runs into challenges in communication will fail in their productivity rates. Lacking communication between coworkers and clients is a sure recipe for disaster in a remote work environment. 

Many SMBs have turned to VoIP solutions to remedy lacking communication, not only to boost productivity rates but also to cut down on costs. VoIP operates over an Internet connection rather than onsite wiring, making it an excellent alternative for remote working. Without all the hardwiring and equipment needed for a separate traditional landline service, businesses also find themselves saving hundreds of dollars a year on their phone bills. 

VoIP provides access to conference calling, chat, and voicemail features that even many smartphones don’t have, greatly improving the productivity of teams. These features can keep calls and information secure, further protecting your employees and customers. 

You Should Have Clear BYOD/Work-from-Home Policies 

Employees at SMBs are likely to use their personal or company devices while working remotely, which can be both effective and dangerous. While many employees have access to technology that makes remote working simpler, allowing employees to use their own devices can put your data at risk.

For SMBs now working remotely, there’s a significant need to have clear BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and work-from-home policies to protect data and to keep employees accountable throughout the work day. 

Policies should include how and where devices can be used, the types of Internet connections that are allowed, security protocols that must be in place, and any other issues that are applicable to the needs of your business. SMBs have found that clearly outlined BYOD and work-from-home policies are a key to business success and security by educating employees on the proper uses of personal and company technology for work.

Remote Network Monitoring Is Key 

To prevent security incidents and reduce costly downtime, SMBs have found that remote network monitoring is a necessity. 

Some SMBs have learned the hard way that an abrupt switch to remote working can cause severe damage without the correct security controls in place. The fact is, more and more hackers are now seeking out SMBs who haven’t properly implemented cybersecurity measures on their new remote networks to exploit their system weaknesses and steal their data. Businesses lose thousands of dollars as a result of data theft and loss, which can even put companies out of business altogether.

Having 24/7 network monitoring in place means your IT provider can detect and patch system vulnerabilities immediately to ensure that hackers can’t exploit them. As a result, the costly causes of downtime are also eliminated, adding both enhanced security and productivity to your operations.

A VPN or Cloud Solutions Are Worthwhile Investments

Not being able to securely access your data is a major issue for SMBs that have moved over to working remotely. Using open or public Internet connections to transfer data greatly increases the likelihood of a breach.

SMBs have found that a virtual private network or VPN is a viable solution to safely connect to their in-house servers. Employees can still access data with security controls in place—such as multifactor authentication and encryption—to protect it from unauthorized users.

Cloud solutions are another excellent solution for businesses wishing to manage certain workloads within the cloud for secure access to remote files. With the proper hosting solution, your cloud operations are kept safe and continually backed up to prevent data loss.

Partnering with a Managed Service Provider

As cybersecurity and other IT provisions for enhancing productivity become more of a priority for SMBs, company owners are turning to reliable managed IT services for support. Managed Service Providers who have experience in remote networks can help your business thrive, even during a global pandemic, by strategizing unique solutions for remote data storage, file access, and communication.

At ISG Technology, our team is proficient in developing optimized work-from-home policies and solutions, including hosted VoIP, 24/7 system monitoring, and VPN. If you’d like to learn more about how our managed IT services can help your business, contact us today.

If you have questions about how to take advantage of our COVID-19 promotions, please don’t hesitate to contact the ISG COVID-19 Task Force.

5 Red Flags Your IT Provider Didn’t Prepare You Well Enough for COVID-19

As businesses face the challenges of COVID-19, it has become obvious to some that their IT provisions weren’t as prepared as they should have been. Unfortunately, as businesses began working from home, security incidents, downtime, and other IT disruptions have been on the rise, putting them in even more precarious situations during this global pandemic.

Remote working comes with many challenges, but many of those can be avoided when businesses have the right level of support to protect their remote networks. With 58% of American knowledge workers now working remotely as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important that businesses understand where their continuity plans can be improved and how to deal with at-home working challenges.

With that, here are 5 major red flags that your IT provider failed to prepare you properly for the COVID-19 pandemic and what you can do about it:

1. Your team is having trouble safely accessing files and programs.

Not having the right access to essential files and programs can be incredibly frustrating when working remotely, as well as slow down productivity. Not only that, but it can also be dangerous, as an improper server setup can often lead to employees sharing files through public or open Internet connections, putting your data at risk.

Your IT provider should have prepared you for at-home working by implementing a virtual private network or VPN for safe access to your in-house server data. If you don’t rely on in-house servers, they should have suggested cloud solutions that allow access to the data and programs needed to perform tasks on laptops or tablets remotely. 

If your IT provider didn’t prepare you to safely access your data, this is a sign that you are in need of more robust IT services that can help you achieve safe business continuity.

2. Your team is struggling to communicate or collaborate effectively.

There has never been a more vital time for employees to maintain reliable contact with co-workers and clients than when working remotely. Not having solutions in place to promote effective communication can have a huge impact on productivity, as questions that could be answered within minutes when working alongside fellow employees could potentially take several hours to gain a response.

Not to mention, if your communication software is lacking, your clients may also be left waiting for a response or solution to a problem. Failure to implement effective remote communication tools can cause significant damage to your customer relationships.

Simple remote telecommunication solutions such as VoIP phone systems allow your team to keep calls secure while also implementing instant chatting and video conferencing features to increase productivity. VoIP phone systems are also much cheaper than traditional landlines, making it a cost-effective solution for businesses who need to preserve their bottom line now more than ever.

Other collaboration tools for your team such as Microsoft Teams can allow your employees to easily cooperate on group tasks and projects by offering remote editing capabilities on documents. Tools such as these can also consolidate your applications into one managed platform, allowing you to cut back on separate programs or software and save money.

If your IT provider didn’t offer solutions in the way of remote collaboration tools as part of your business continuity plan, your business likely has already felt the effects of lower productivity and communication. To remedy this and prepare better for the future, look for IT services that offer collaboration tools such as these.

3. Your cybersecurity didn’t get upgraded at all.

Unfortunately, many remote workers are now accessing sensitive data from insecure locations or devices, which has made them more vulnerable to cyber threats since the outbreak. In fact, the World Health Organization has reported a five times increase in cyber attacks since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown. 

Your IT provider should have been thinking ahead and supporting teams to employ security solutions such as firewalls, spam filtering, and anti-malware that are adaptable to remote networks. Additionally, they should offer security training to employees and consulting on work-from-home policies to maintain data security at all times.

4. They failed to advise you on new tools and hardware.

One of the many challenges that companies had to face when transitioning to remote working was to ensure that all employees had the correct equipment to be able to successfully work from home. 

Some companies had to send employees home with equipment from the office while others began working from personal devices—which comes with its own security issues. Some employees even had to wait for equipment to be ordered and delivered before being able to begin working. 

The role of the IT service provider in this instance is to advise your business in accordance to what new equipment will be needed to maintain productivity and safety. Whether you needed new computers for your employees, a custom software to manage new administrative tasks, or cloud storage solutions, your IT provider should have already consulted you on these business continuity tools. 

5. They still haven’t updated your business continuity plan.

With the world around us constantly changing, business contingency plans need constant revision to ensure they are prepared for any changing situation. This is especially true for businesses whose continuity plans have failed them in some regard when it comes to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

IT service providers should be evaluating how your contingency plan has been working amidst the pandemic and amend any flaws in the plan that have caused issues. This will better prepare you for the future and ensure that the best solutions are in place while you deal with the challenges of remote work now. 

A reliable IT provider should offer its clients continuous support—especially during difficult situations such as the one we’re facing. They should have prepared you with the proper remote networks, tools, and cybersecurity to deal with the challenges you are now facing. If they didn’t and you’re experiencing one of the red flags listed above, it’s time to look for more comprehensive solutions.
At ISG Technology, our managed IT services are designed to prepare your business for anything. We work directly with our clients using a proactive approach to improve their systems continually. If you’d like to learn more about our managed services for businesses, contact us today.

If you have questions about how to take advantage of our COVID-19 promotions, please don’t hesitate to contact the ISG COVID-19 Task Force.

Webinar: Winning The War On Ransomware

Let’s Declare War On Ransomware

Every day, organizations are at risk of losing data and damaging business reputation from ransomware threats. And now that the attack surface has increased exponentially with a remote workforce, the threat level has never been higher.

In this webinar, we will help you understand the latest threats to your data and how to overcome them with a comprehensive cloud data management strategy. From awareness of the threat, to implementation of backups, to the actions you take the moment disaster strikes and more, we’ll help you understand how to take your ransomware resiliency to a new level.

What You’ll Learn:

  • 3 timeless approaches to ransomware resiliency
  • How to develop a ransomware resiliency strategy
  • The most common ransomware attack vectors
  • The latest techniques in the fight against ransomware
  • Different methods to remediate ransomware threats

7 critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider

There’s no question that cloud computing is on the rise. More and more businesses are turning to cloud computing as their default setting. But with so many options to choose from, how do you select the right provider for your business?

Here are seven critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider.

1. What cloud computing services do you provide?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

There are many different types of cloud services such as a public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud. If you already know what type of service you want, your first step is to make sure your potential provider offers that service.

More than likely, though, you know you want to move to the cloud, but aren’t sure which type of service would work best for you. A good cloud computing provider should not only be able to explain the services they offer, but help you to determine which cloud computing services would best meet the needs of your business.

2. How secure is your cloud computing?

Security should be at the top of any list when data and networking is concerned.

Cloud security, just like network security, ensures your data stays safe. Ask potential providers what network and server-level security measures they have in place to protect your data. Security measures to look for include encryption, firewalls, antivirus detection and multifactor user authentication.

3. Where will my data be stored?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Since cloud computing involves the storage of data at off-site locations, the physical location and security of those data centers is just as important as online security.

SSAE 16 and SOC 2 Type II certifications are the best indicator that your provider’s products, systems and data are compliant with industry security standards.

4. How will my business be able to access the cloud?

One of the benefits of cloud computing is its flexibility and ease of access. You’ll want you understand how you will be able to access your data on the cloud and how it will integrate into your current work environment.

If your company is poised to grow in the near future, you may also want to ask about scalability and your provider’s ability to meet your growing needs.

5. What is your pricing structure?

Pricing for cloud computing can vary greatly, so make sure you understand how and for what you will be charged.

Ask about upfront costs and the ability to add services as needed. Will services be charged hourly, monthly, semi-annually, or annually?

6. How do you handle regulatory compliance?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Understanding the many laws and regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCCI, that pertain to the collection and storage of data can be intimidating. That’s why one of the benefits of hiring a cloud computing provider is having security experts take care of regulatory compliance for you.

You’ll want to make sure your provider is constantly working to stay up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations that may affect your data.

7. What customer support services do you offer?

Cloud computing never sleeps and neither should your provider’s technical support. Getting help when you need it is important, so you’ll want to ask your provider if they provide 24-hour technical support, including on holidays.

Ease and availability of reporting problems is also important so ask about phone, email, and live chat support options. You may also want to ask about your provider’s average response and resolution times.

Asking these questions can help you find the right cloud computing provider for your business. And getting the right answers is only a phone call away—call your managed IT services provider to start the process today.

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Webinar: Cybersecurity for Your Suddenly Remote Workforce

As COVID-19 continues to change daily work life around the globe, organizations are facing a challenging new cybersecurity reality. To provide actionable information for IT and security teams everywhere, we’re inviting you to join our live webinar: Cybersecurity for Your Suddenly Remote Workforce.

During this webinar, we’ll help you develop a better understanding of the challenges and solutions to protecting your organization in the reality of a remote workforce. You’ll get an in-depth look at the evolving COVID-19 threat landscape, insights and recommendations based on what we’re seeing across our customer base, and tips to help you maintain and improve your security posture during these changing times.

10 Tech Solutions (& Offers) to Stay Secure & Productive During COVID-19 Crisis

As you may have seen, a number of technology manufacturers stepped up to the plate quickly with free trials and extended licensing offers when the coronavirus reached pandemic status in early March. Since that time we’ve been able to evaluate these offers and implement a number of them with our clients. This article will help you understand which of these solutions and offers could be good for your situation.

—–

Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
– Cisco AnyConnect
– Cisco Meraki
– Fortinet Solutions

Remote Worker Security
– Cisco Umbrella
– Cisco Duo Security

Communication & Collaboration
– Microsoft 365
– Cisco Webex
– ISG Hosted Voice Soft Phone

Remote Desktop Services (RDS)
– Citrix Cloud Workspace
– Microsoft Remote Session Host

Virtual Private Network (VPN)

1) Cisco AnyConnect is one of our preferred solutions to get users secure access while offsite. It’s more secure than most of the OS-based VPN solutions that leverage L2TP and PPTP, very reliable and user friendly. Here’s an overview video. Cisco is allowing existing AnyConnect customers to exceed their user limit to support the increase in remote workers, and new customers can access a free license for 90 days. Details can be found in their blog post, Cisco Free Security Offerings.

2) Cisco Meraki is also another good VPN option. Their security appliances can be remotely deployed in minutes using zero-touch cloud provisioning. They are simple to deploy across sites, and Auto VPN technology can securely connect branches in just a few clicks. They are offering 90-day free trials for Meraki Insight and a First Year On Us Promotion that can help you during this challenging time.

3) Fortinet solutions – offer an integrated solution to support telework. FortiGate next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) have built-in support for IPsec virtual private networks (VPNs), enabling remote workers to connect securely to the company network. With endpoint protection, provided by FortiClient, and multi-factor authentication (MFA) with FortiAuthenticator, organizations can securely support remote work and maintain business continuity.

Remote Worker Security

4) Cisco Umbrella protects users from malicious Internet destinations whether they are on or off the network. Because it is delivered from the cloud, Umbrella makes it easy to protect users everywhere in minutes. Cisco is allowing existing customers to exceed their user limit to support an increase in remote workers. For new customers, Cisco has extended its free 14 day trial license to 90 days during the COVID-19 crisis. To get this set up, simply contact the ISG COVID-19 Task Force.

5) Cisco Duo Security is Multi-Factor Authentication that enables organizations to verify users’ identities and establish device trust before granting access to applications. By employing a zero-trust model, it decreases the attack surface and reduces risk. Cisco is allowing existing customers to exceed their user limit to support an increase in remote workers, and new customers can access a free license.

Remote Desktop Services (RDS)

In a perfect world, we’d all take our laptops home, access the company network via the VPN and business would barely skip a beat. But in the real world, it’s not that easy. Not everyone has a laptop to take home. Some workstations must stay on company property for security reasons. Some employees require high performance computing that simply can’t happen through VPN. And the list goes on. When this is the case, the following options are worth considering.

6) Citrix Cloud Workspace is a quick way to provide remote access to employee workstations and the company network. It gives the employee access to their workstation in their office remotely and securely – eliminating file sharing issues and communications being relayed outside the company network. Currently, Citrix is offering a 60-day trial and onboarding with ISG’s team of Citrix engineers is quick and painless.

See how ISG helped MTM transform healthcare logistics with Citrix workspace solutions >>

7) Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) is another way to connect remote users to the applications they need. If you have a VMware environment and have been considering a solution to roll-out updates to employee devices more efficiently than touching each device, you may want to consider RDSH. While this solution requires a greater investment of time and budget than the Citrix solution, there are many advantages that make it worthwhile to explore. Microsoft offers a 180 day trial of the licensing.

Communication & Collaboration

8) Managed Microsoft 365 – Microsoft 365 has become the industry leader in communication and collaboration for its ability to integrate the tools that we’ve all grown accustomed to, like Word, Excel and Powerpoint. When Teams, Sharepoint and OneDrive were added to the mix, the ability to share and co-author files took remote work/collaboration to a whole new level. We use MS365 at ISG, and it has kept us up and running throughout this entire crisis.

Currently, Microsoft is offering E1 licenses for free for six months. While this does include Teams (the app that makes it all happen), we are not recommending this trial for companies considering O365 for a long-term solution. This complicates a migration to Microsoft 365 down the road. If you have questions about this, please email our COVID-19 Task Force.

9) Cisco Webex is a solution you should explore if you need to quickly scale your ability to communicate and collaborate effectively. It’s an industry leading solution that includes HD video meetings, content sharing, recording, meetings, webinars, desktop and mobile app, messaging and more. Cisco is expanding subscriptions on a temporary basis at no additional cost for existing customers and offering Webex for free to individuals during the COVID-19 crisis. We have helped a number of clients deploy this solution in minutes, and Cisco has an incredible library of materials to support rollout efforts.

10) ISG Hosted Voice Soft Phones – If your focus is to quickly stand up a remote phone/telecommunication option for your remote workforce, ISG’s hosted voice solution offers the ability to spin up a soft phone client. There is no need to purchase a new phone system and you can seamlessly transition what you have into a remote solution that works on a PC, tablet or cellular device. This 100% cloud-based solution includes conferencing, transferring, on-hold, call jump, IM/Presence and more. And, until the end of June we are offering month-to-month contracts if you’d like to test it out for yourself.

If you have questions about any of the above solutions or how to take advantage of their COVID-19 promotions, please don’t hesitate to contact the ISG COVID-19 Task Force.

The Ultimate Remote Workforce Checklist – Security, Productivity & Business Continuity

Pandemic has struck the globe. Workforces have been sent home. And the IT team has scrambled to make it happen in record time.

Words can’t describe how impressed we’ve been at the business community’s response to enabling a remote workforce at such a rapid pace. And as an IT services provider, we hold the fellow IT professionals at the companies we serve in very high regard. We’ve seen so many of you working tirelessly to serve the needs of the business to ensure we keep our communities safe. Kudos to you.

When social distancing is no longer the norm, we’ll find a local watering hole and buy you a well deserved drink!

Until then, we want to provide a resource for you to ensure you’ve “checked all the boxes” as you go remote. Normally, making a transformation of this magnitude is planned out months, often times years, in advance. Use this checklist to ensure your network remains secure, your users are as productive as possible and business continuity remains in tact.

Download the Checklist

Remote Workforce Checklist

If you have any questions during the COVID-19 crisis, please don’t hesitate to contact our COVID-19 Task force via email. Good luck. And stay safe out there.