Dave Kinsey 0000-00-00 00:00:00
As I engage new clients, we review the state of their technology.Here are some common issues I’ve encountered, in the hopes that you may avoid them. This isn’t meant to be a complete list,just common trouble spots. Security: • Backups -Backup issues are very common regardless of the size of the firm. Review to ensure reliable protection from both day-to- day accidental deletion and disaster (theft is the most common cause of disaster, followed by water, then fire). • Insufficient Malware Protection - With desktops systems, you should properly control the environment, and infection should be rare, less than 1 infection per 500 systems per year. Laptops are more prone to infection since people take them home. • Active Accounts for People No Longer with the Firm - Regularly review accounts that are active, but not logged in within the past 30 days. • Unsecured Wireless - Consider if wireless internal access is needed or if you only need internet access via Wi-Fi. Ensure at least WPA2 encryption. • Improper Hard Drive Disposal - Properly wipe hard drives with software that performs multiple passes of writing all over the hard drives. You are entrusted with privileged information, so proper disposal is essential. System Architecture: • Out of Warranty Servers - When it comes to my personal purchases, I typically forgo extended warranty. When it comes to servers, it's a different story. Any server hardware issue must be responded to efficiently. Even with failover servers, it's still not worth the risk working with the server manufacturer to overnight replacement parts (and hope they are the right parts) in the case of primary server failure. When a server under warranty fails, you call the manufacturer who sends someone on site quickly with the correct parts. • Too Many Servers - As complexity increases, so do points for failure, software costs, and management labor. Every situation is unique, but here are some rules of thumb. If your law firm has under 50 people and 1-3 logical servers (ideally one physical server), you're probably doing OK. More than that, something's probably wrong. If you have over a dozen logical servers with less than 200 people, that likely indicates an issue as well. • "Swiss Cheese" Server Hard Drives - Server disk drives are often partitioned into multiple volumes, wasting space, and often causing problems if the C drive partition is too small. • Storage Area Networks (SAN) - These continue to gain popularity, but I've rarely seen them make sense in law firm IT design. If your firm has a SAN and less than 100 people, something isn't right. Even in a 500 person firm, I'd recommend more cost-effective solutions. • Old, Unsupported Software - It's important to maintain current software versions to ensure proper functioning and vendor support. Office 2003 and Windows XP will soon be unsupported and should be phased out if they haven't been already. • Incompatible Software - It's important to research compatibility before upgrades. For example, if you're upgrading to Exchange 2010, ensure that you're on Office 2007 or Office 2010 first. Upgrading to Exchange 2010 with Office 2003 creates problems. • Old PCs, too little RAM - With decent hardware, a PC should last 3-5 years. 5+ year old systems with 1 GB of RAM or less will achieve particularly poor results. • "White Box" Systems - Major companies like Dell and HP stand behind their equipment. Don't be saddled with "no name" boxes from "who knows where". These are great for whoever sells you the equipment, since they are the only ones who may be able to get parts for it. The initial cost may possibly be lower, but long term costs will generally be much higher. • In-House Anti-Spam - All internet email is inherently "in the cloud". If you're not stopping spam before it enters your network, this should be fixed. • "Inexpensive" Printers - The cheapest printers generally have the highest toner/ink costs. Other: • Poor or Non-Existent License Records - Make sure you're keeping track of software purchases. • Internet and/or Phone Circuits - Bandwidth continually increases and cost decreases. Some providers have auto-renewal clauses to lock you in at higher than market rates and lower than market service. Immediately tell these providers you want month-to-month terms at the end of the term. Ensure market-level service at market-level rates. • IT Staffing - Managing the amount of in-house IT time and outsourced labor is a balancing act; review this regularly. Budget time for ongoing training. • Cluttered IT Closets - Keeping closets clean is important. If you have any questions about any of these items or if you you'd like a "sanity check" on anything you're doing, just send me an email.
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