THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF YOUR 2020 IT BUDGET
2020 is approaching rapidly, and you’ll need your IT budget finalized soon.
Advance2000 Regional Director, Joseph “JT” Talamantez, has written an IT Planning and Budgeting article that should be revisited every year. JT recommends organizations review the technology initiatives completed over the past year and evaluate their success. Then build on those successful initiatives for 2020, and pivot unsuccessful implementations based on your analysis.
While organizations should check off each category JT covers (such as hardware, software, and R&D to name a few), there is one additional thing organizations must remember for 2020.
When asked “What is the most important thing when planning an IT budget?” Advance2000’s Account Manager, Jeff Daggett, had an answer ready:
“For businesses who have licenses or software that require updates, they need to know about that ahead of time for the yearly budget.” Daggett said, “Get on the phone with your vendors or providers and ask ‘What’s in store for next year?’”
2019 is the year Microsoft urged all users to move from Windows 7 to Windows 10.
For brevity, we’ll reference Microsoft for this post, but be aware that similar situations can apply to nearly all technology providers and vendors.
Users of Windows 7 have experienced 10 years of free “technical support for any issues, software updates, and security updates or fixes.” It’s crucial for business continuity and resiliency to use an operating system that receives regular software and security updates. Once Windows 7 is end-of-life in January 2020, users will no longer receive this support. Decision-makers need to act quickly and upgrade to a supported operating system that receives regular software and security updates.
In a word, security. When cyberattacks penetrate organizations’ networks, it takes about a quarter of victims offline completely. About 60 percent of those businesses never reopen due to lost revenue, customer abandonment, or other factors. During 2018, cyberattacks skyrocketed 350% and it’s expected by 2021 businesses should expect a ransomware attack every 11 seconds. Needless to say, it’s not if a cyberattack will happen, but when. Organizations should plan their IT strategy with that understanding.
There is an associated cost with updating to Windows 10. Organizations need to consider the time, human resources, and/or monetary commitment it will take to backup and migrate data and applications to the new platform.
Be certain to understand the full cost of updating your systems beyond license cost.
Some software can operate past the annual contract renewal date. But, don’t let the end of a multi-year agreement surprise you. The Better Business Bureau State of Cybersecurity Report included a testimonial from a cyberattack victim whose antivirus had expired, bringing down their servers during an attack.
Confirm any prepaid license expirations do not surprise you in 2020.
Microsoft is not done phasing out old technology just yet. The company recently announced that extended support for Office 2010 will end on October 13, 2020. Additionally, Windows Server 2008, as well as Windows 7, is end of life January 2020. Again, this means no more tech support, bug fixes, or security patches, leaving your software vulnerable to viruses and malware. If you haven’t upgraded from Office 2010, you should plan an Office 365 upgrade for your organization.
Make sure all software and subscription payments and any necessary upgrades are up to date.
Daggett recommends you work with your IT partner to verify the renewal dates of all your systems, licenses, and subscriptions.
For instance, in 2019 the costs associated with moving from Windows 7 to Windows 10 surprised some firms as they weren’t included in their annual IT budget. Overall, it was an eye opening experience.
Request quotes early and verify all licenses and subscriptions for 2020 so you can prepare a realistic IT maintenance budget number.
Work with your IT partner to review any software or hardware renewals.
“What if I don’t switch to Windows 10?”
As mentioned, all free support for Windows 7 ends January 2020. Microsoft emphasizes “While you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at greater risk for viruses and malware.”
It is possible to purchase a (pricey) support package and continue to use Windows 7. Contact us to learn more about this (full disclosure: we’ll encourage you to move to Windows 10 because it is, in nearly all cases, the best decision to protect your business).
As we’ve pointed out, cyberattacks are on the rise, so a cybersecurity plan needs to be a priority. Your IT partner can discuss support packages that include security patches for both your computer and phone systems. If you haven’t already purchased a support plan, be sure to include it in your 2020 IT budget.
Understandably, budget dollars are carefully allocated among many different areas of a business. But when software updates are ignored, there can be severe consequences.
“It is critically important that businesses keep software up to date,” Daggett explained, “A phone system can be going fine for 2 or 3 years, but one thing can go wrong and take the entire system down.”
Daggett explained that restoring downed systems is not a quick fix. Restoring or recovering operations can take a couple of days. Once work is approved, the old software needs to be upgraded and that takes time.
Recovering from a failure caused by outdated software can cost a business 2 to 3 times the amount of a yearly maintenance plan.
On the other hand, Daggett mentioned, “When customers go down but have up-to-date software and hardware, the time to recover is hours, not days.”
When software is current it’s easier for the support engineers to troubleshoot the problem. Often vendors will not support older versions of software and refuse to assist in recovery until the software is upgraded. Our maintenance customers have current software and backups. An up-to-date backup can be restored in minutes, often with little or no data loss.
Finally, partner with an IT firm to continuously monitor your systems and confirm regular updates of software and security patches. Hosting your company on virtual infrastructure in a secure datacenter makes it easier to protect your business.
Ensure your systems are using the latest and greatest technology by always including a support and maintenance plan. When your organization gets attacked, as the odds are it will, you’ll be on a safe secure private network behind industry-leading firewalls with system monitoring, and even encryption, should you need it.
Considering that 80% of companies report operational improvements within the first few months of adopting cloud technology, don’t wait and leave your organization behind.
For more information about cybersecurity best practices and news about industry system and software updates, contact the IT experts at Advance2000.