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Returning to the Office: Assessing Your IT Infrastructure
As we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are starting to plan the return to the office. Over the past year, remote connectivity has been the focus and has required many changes to be made to IT infrastructure. Regardless of whether a company plans to return to 100% in-office operations, create hybrid work models, or stay remote, the IT infrastructure will need to be assessed. We are already seeing a lot of companies identify needs to upgrade and make changes due to the speed in which businesses moved to remote work in 2020.
What do you mean, IT infrastructure assessment?
An IT infrastructure assessment can mean anything from a formal site survey to simply looking at your business operation needs and comparing it to how you feel your network is functioning. In general, we recommend an annual review of IT systems and infrastructure to ensure that you are always at peak performance. The IT infrastructure is the backbone of your internal and external communications, data, and security. It is critical to keep it healthy to prevent cyberattacks, physical break-ins, data/file loss, and to keep your communication lines open.
What is a site survey?
A site survey of IT infrastructure is where a provider (like Matrix-NDI) visits your location and analyzes your physical network. Your physical network is your data center or closet, switches and routers, all low voltage cabling throughout your building, and connectivity locations such as ethernet ports at your desk. We create a blueprint or map of your existing network if you do not already have one and discuss where improvements can be made. Site surveys can be done during construction of new buildings, or on your existing space. These are an in-depth assessment of your IT infrastructure.
What are some examples of IT infrastructure issues that we are looking for?
Your IT infrastructure is as unique as your business. There is an endless list of things that can improve or interrupt day to day business function when it comes to your network. A few examples of things we would look for when assessing your IT infrastructure are:
- Whether your existing low voltage cabling is adequate for the size of your building and your network demands.
- Internet connectivity being consistent throughout your space
- Latency issues with voice and data applications
- Accuracy of your existing IT infrastructure mapping and labeling
- The age and purpose of the hardware used in your space
- The health of your cybersecurity systems (firewalls etc.…)
- Physical security cameras, door access, alarm systems
This list is by no means all encompassing but it gives you an idea of some of the things we look at when assessing IT infrastructure. The best way to plan IT infrastructure upgrades, refreshes or fixes is to assess your needs and come up with a budget and timeline to get things done.
What does this have to do with returning to in-office work or hybrid models?
As I mentioned above, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, countless businesses were forced to shut their doors quickly. The goal was to provide employees with remote connectivity- immediately. This included adopting things like new applications for voice and data, laptops, webcams, and headsets. Your business could look a lot different today than it did a year ago. If you were using desk phones, your employees are probably using a voice application such as RingCentral. Meetings are no longer held in conference rooms, but on Zoom, Google, or Microsoft Teams. If your business stores data on site (not in the cloud), you would have needed to provide VPN access to each employee. These changes impact your IT infrastructure in a lot of different ways.
This may sound daunting, but in most cases, we find that some additional or upgraded cabling and additional Wi-Fi access points help immensely. We can work with you on budget and timeline to ensure that your business is running safely and efficiently. If you are aware that you need a large project done but do not have the budget this year, we can work with what you have and put a plan in place for the future. We are here to help answer any questions you have and help support your business moving forward, whether you plan to move back to the office or continue working remotely.
If you have any questions about IT Infrastructure assessments or Site Surveys, reach out to us at ContactUs@Matrix-NDI.com or call 763-475-5500.