A hot topic in the worldof technology at the moment is the End of Life Support in 2014 for Windows XP, Exchange Server 2003 and Office 2003. It’s a big worry for many companies and the first question everyone asks me is ‘What does this mean for my business?’.
Without worrying people too much, I always start with security as attackers are ready and waiting to take advantage of unsupported software and hardware. Computers all around the world will be in danger of security threats such as harmful viruses, spyware and other malicious software, even anti-virus software will not be able to fully protect a PC or server once the support stops.
Another associated risk worth mentioning with these soon-to-be unsupported products is that certain businesses may no longer meet regulation or industry compliance requirements; this can lead to a suspension of certifications and a public notification of the business’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information, causing a major impact to a company’s reputation.
With the ever-developing advancements in technology and with the looming end of support, there is a huge opportunity not only to upgrade but to enhance and improve business performance. My personal recommendation would be to move forward and utilise existing IT infrastructures, by either transitioning over to virtualisation or taking the next step further into ‘the cloud’- like they say ‘out with the old and in with the new’.
To explain further, virtualisation would allow companies to run multiple virtual computers on a single physical server by sharing the physical resources. The benefits of virtualisation differ slightly depending on the business environment. Take a single server deployment, for example, currently one application is reliant on a single piece of hardware, so if another application is needed, another server would also be required. However, if there were a virtual solution in place, this additional hardware investment would not be necessary.
Virtualisation is more flexible and environmentally friendly, efficient to back up and fast to restore, allowing businesses to recover quicker and continue trading with minimal downtime.
Cloud computing, on the other hand, provides an on-demand service which allows businesses to move their current IT servers into a virtual space, freeing up important floor space within the office. With more availability, faster connectivity and a larger access to internet bandwidth, the cloud is the way forward for companies wishing to pass on the management of their IT.
Together with increasing communication and lowering price points, the cloud will soon be an effective and efficient option for many businesses, offering the added bonus of extra security. Companies can be reassured their data is fully protected as cloud vendors take security very seriously. Just one incident could result in the destruction of their reputation and their entire business.
Although the option to transfer over to ‘the cloud’ is fitting for many businesses, there are still a few who, in the present day, will not find it suitable. I am not saying that in a few years this may not change. However, currently there are drawbacks for some businesses.
For example, a certain amount of bandwidth is needed so if your business has limited internet, accessing your data can be tricky and will need additional investment.
In summary, I would strongly suggest now is the time to jump on board with the rising tide as I predict within the next five to ten years there will be a significant shift in the way IT is handled. In a similar way to the transformation of the internet, virtualisation and cloud computing will soon be the norm for businesses throughout the UK.
Dave Helm is Sales & Marketing Director Of Blue Logic Computers Limited