Is Your Tech Ready For Winter?

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I have not been blogging much over the last two weeks due to a personal matter that has consumed my time.  I did however publish the following in yesterday’s Foster’s and Seacoast Sunday.  I hope to be back to regular blogging over the next week or so.

WinterTechWith the colder temperature, stronger winds and early snow, it’s all a good reminder that you should be prepared for winter weather events, especially as the snow flies.

Making sure you workforce is prepared for snow emergencies is one of the simplest things you can do. Even if you are still maintaining a traditional on-premise IT infrastructure, where your servers and all of your business applications reside within your office, it’s easier than ever to provide secure remote access for your team. When the snow is flying, or the roads are icy, people should be able to easily work from home and maintain near complete productivity. They key is how you have things setup.

With on-premise infrastructure, one of the most important elements, and surprisingly often overlooked elements, is power. Power outages are common during major snowstorms and even if you rarely lose power, you still need to be concerned about even the briefest interruption. The best option for this is a generator, but not every business can afford a generator. Next best is sufficient UPS, uninterruptible power supply, backups. These batteries will keep the infrastructure running and properly shut it down when the battery becomes low. UPS’s, properly configured, will also safely power systems back up when utility power is restored. WSecure remote access to all of these systems has really become the defacto standard. You may notice that more and more of the applications you use seem to run in a web browser. When you look at the address, the URL of the application, you will see https indicating the application runs securely over the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, encrypting all of the information exchange between your computer and the application, where ever it resides. Even if you are using a locally installed application that runs on your computer it’s likely using a secure protocol to connect.hile a good option, UPS’s with sufficient battery capacity are expensive, so you may only be able to keep things running for tens of minutes and not throughout an event.

This is where hybrid systems that leverage the Cloud are really the way to go. With critical business systems in the Cloud, coupled with an appropriate on-premise component, your business will be able to survive even the longest of outages, whatever the cause. Most businesses have already moved their email to the Cloud, so what tends to be the most critical communication component will keep working. Organizations that have installed Cloud hosted Voice over IP phone systems are also able to maintain their telephone services during outages like we are talking about. And when your most important business applications are also hosted in a Cloud data center, you will be able to work as if you were sitting at your desk, from wherever you may find yourself. This is the ideal scenario.

Secure remote access to all of these systems has really become the defacto standard. You may notice that more and more of the applications you use seem to run in a web browser. When you look at the address, the URL of the application, you will see https indicating the application runs securely over the Secure Sockets Layer protocol, encrypting all of the information exchange between your computer and the application, where ever it resides. Even if you are using a locally installed application that runs on your computer it’s likely using a secure protocol to connect.

Additionally, you may have a secure Virtual Private Network, or VPN, that you use. VPNs secure your internet traffic by encrypting everything, ensuring all traffic from your computer is secure. VPNs have become pretty standard fare and while they used to be a bit cumbersome to work with, that is not longer the case.

One other little thing to be aware of: As temperatures fall, battery life decreases. Batteries last longer in warmer temperatures, so especially when you are outdoors, be mindful that your smartphone battery may discharge a bit more quickly in the cold weather. Battery technology continues to improve, so it’s not nearly as problematic as it used to be, but be aware it may happen, especially as your batteries age.

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