Focused IT Consulting Fosters Small Business Innovation
THE SYSADMIN: WEARER OF MANY HATS
A system administrator handles the core of your IT setup. They’re the ones who design and maintain how users, groups of users, computers, and groups of computers behave. This is true whether you’re looking at a specific user or computer, or across the entire network. Adding IT consultants to your company’s roster of reliable resources can ensure your network is optimized and secure.
In many small- to mid-sized businesses, the IT expert is expected to know everything about technology, even if it’s not necessarily computer tech, and even if they have no direct experience with the technology. They’re the ones who handle installation and configuration of systems and will be the go-to person when a program or corresponding hardware isn’t working as expected.
Businesses with larger demands often create an IT help desk that augments the sysadmin. The sysadmin of a large system doesn’t have time to reset passwords or plug in the printer that is constantly unplugged by someone walking by, especially if they’re creating a system to rival Fortune 500 companies. An IT consultant can augment a busy help desk by applying expertise when and where it’s needed most.
Go to a sysadmin if you have no IT layout at all. If your business tech is a few computers or laptops thrown together by you or a one-off IT contractor, a sysadmin can design and implement a more focused system and help you plan for the future.
Your business may need to use unique software in unique ways, or you may need to customize the setup for standard programs to do something unique and automated. In many ways, a sysadmin can help you with those changes.
If you need big changes or want your own program with your own features, you’ll need someone with scripting experience. Proceed with caution, as even an experienced sysadmin is not necessary a programmer. IT consultant firms supply developers or sysadmins as needed and will often help you to appreciate their differences.
SCRIPTING VERSUS PROGRAMMING
Code! What does it mean? What doesn’t it mean?
To keep things simple, the difference between scripting and programming is about digging into the deep details and making small, nuanced changes versus pushing big commands together to build or augment your custom technology solution.
Scripting is the act of launching specific tasks using command line language. People with scripting experience will use a specific scripting language to open X program at Y time, install X program on hundreds of computers, or to reset the passwords of multiple users by simply double-clicking.
In the early world of automation, scripts became a way to make many IT tasks easier. If you do the same task repeatedly, why type out or click around through multiple folders repeatedly when you can click once and enjoy a cup of coffee? Hiring the right IT consultant can help you make the most of your clicks, streamline your operations and refine your IT processes.
Programming is a completely different issue. The similarities stop at typing what looks like code commands because while programming can use scripting, its scope is often far beyond the scope of scripts.
Think of programming as digital crafting. They are respected as the carpenters, masons, architects, and artists of the digital world because what the best programmers do is similar to creating cars out of clay.
That said, most programmers don’t start from the clay. They work with programming languages such as Java, C, Python or Ruby, which have libraries of code to give a framework for people who want to create something.
There are prebuilt tools for making a window, opening certain tasks, performing math calculations, and other tasks. Programmers can also borrow the best practices of established code that works in one situation to create something entirely new.
Many information technology and computer science professionals work in multiple languages. It’s in your best interest, however, to confirm their skills and experience. If you want a professional who can automate tasks, scripting experience is fine, and programming skills might be too much. If you want software built, make sure the applicant has expertise in an actual programming language(s) and has a corresponding portfolio for you to review.
NETWORKING AND SECURITY ARE NOT THE SAME
If you need someone to handle the routers and switches in your building, a network professional is your best bet.
People with networking certifications or years of confirmed networking experience can keep your network up and your internet connections working, at least as long as your internet service provider (ISP) is doing their job. The IT networking consultant can also handle managing your ISP account for you.
Network security and general IT security are separate from networking but need networking skills and so much more. The biggest, most automated threats in the tech world are internet-based and need networking experience to battle, but the issue is quite complex, requiring a very specific skill set. An IT consultant with expertise in security can test your network for vulnerabilities and recommend an appropriate course of action.
Make sure that your cybersecurity professionals know their way around a network, the systems you use, and the world of cybersecurity news. They don’t need to waste time discussing cybersecurity news to prove themselves, but they need to be familiar with at least monthly or weekly threats.
Knowing networking as a security professional will prove useful whenever something is unusual on the network. If strange addresses are connecting or if resources are being overused with no other obvious symptoms, security experts will enhance your IT security by knowing where to look.
They also need to know how to diagnose computers at the digital and physical level. What prompts an end-user to report that their computer is acting up when there is a multitude of tasks running, and how many of those tasks are viruses? Who will identify that a computer sounds like it’s dealing with a higher number of processes than it normally should, especially when there’s nothing showing up in task manager?
Networking is often the beginning of cybersecurity talk, and networkers need to know a bit of security. Cybersecurity experts need to know the symptoms of all IT-connected systems and a bit more, so their skills can be harder to measure.
If in doubt, bring in multiple cybersecurity experts to discuss their expertise and to talk about your challenges. Unless they’re all working together against you and your paycheque, you can pare down your new team based on both their knowledge and their performance.
Managed IT services companies often offer multiple services. This can come from an organization with an array of professionals with multiple skill sets, or a company comprising diverse individuals who are each experienced in multiple disciplines, covering every applicable department. They can help you reduce downtime, protect confidential data, and act as an extension of your problem-solving team that you can call upon when needed.
Their leadership can help you home in on which technology approach makes the most sense to contribute to your ongoing success. Contact a managed IT services consultant when you need to discuss scalable upgrades, software customization, repairs, cost reduction, changes to requirements, or to brainstorm creative tech innovations to keep your business moving forward.