Being proactive means anticipating challenges and acting to solve them. Reactive means waiting for problems to strike.
When it comes to information technology, businesses should strive for proactive IT management. When business leaders are proactive with technology, cybersecurity risks are minimized, employees are more productive, and downtime becomes a thing of the past.
Proactive managed IT requires planning and investment. For growing companies, a great way to achieve the benefits of proactive IT service management is to partner with a managed service provider (MSP). MSPs deliver outsourced IT support and specialize in proactive cybersecurity, service desk, and technology management.
In this blog, we will explore the eight key ingredients for proactive IT management.
8 Methods of Proactive IT Service Management
1. Identity and Access Management
Delivering a proactive managed IT experience requires focused investment in cybersecurity tools and best practices. This is one instance where proactive vs. reactive IT management represents the best possible solution.
The best way to minimize the risks from cybersecurity attacks or breaches is to utilize a proactive approach for anticipating the different threats and put in place the right technologies, tools, and processes before an attack happens.
The single most important technology is identity and access management (IAM). IAM is the process of controlling employee and user access to critical systems, software, and infrastructure.
IAM processes authenticate the identity of users and control access to systems, data, and software tools that are appropriate to a particular employee’s level and role.
A core concept of IAM is the principle of least privilege, which states that employees should only be granted access to the tools and resources strictly necessary for their job, and nothing more.
One of the most important elements of IAM today is multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA requires users to authenticate with both something they know, such as a password, and something they have, such as a one-time password or token generated from an authentication app on a previously registered mobile device.
MFA mitigates the problems associated with the widespread problem of password re-use and credential theft by cyber criminals.
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2. Endpoint Protection
Another instance where proactive vs. reactive IT management plays a significant role is by protecting all laptops, workstations, and servers with next-generation endpoint protection.
More than just anti-virus software, today’s leading endpoint protection solutions block viruses, malware, and unauthorized remote access, but also detect anomalous behavior and defend against “zero-day” attacks.
Next-generation endpoint protection leverages a proactive approach using artificial intelligence and machine learning to help detect anomalous behavior that may indicate a breach or cyber attack.
3. Cloud-Updated Cybersecurity
The cybersecurity threat landscape is continuously evolving. New threats emerge all the time. Therefore, continuously updated cybersecurity solutions are critical, as is a proactive approach over a reactive approach.
A key way to be proactive and stay ahead of cybercriminals is to ensure that your security solutions are continuously updated from the cloud.
Proactive managed IT from leading MSPs implement endpoint, firewall, and SaaS security solutions that are continuously updated with new signatures and software versions in order to detect, block, or prevent cybersecurity issues.
4. Remote Monitoring and Management
Remote monitoring and management (RMM) is another core element of proactive managed IT services delivered by leading MSPs.
RMM is facilitated by a software agent that runs on every laptop, workstation, and server. The RMM tool enables continuous and remote monitoring of a client’s computing infrastructure and users.
With the dramatic increase in remote work and the more highly distributed nature of companies today, remote management is the new norm. RMM tools enable remote access and ongoing service management.
MSPs use RMM to remotely update operating systems, install software applications, or change configurations on single machines or across an entire fleet of equipment.
5. Patching and Proactive Maintenance
A core best practice of proactive IT is patching and routine maintenance. Nearly every piece of infrastructure in a company requires software updates over time. These elements can be operating systems or device firmware.
As software versions advance or bugs get detected, potential problems are avoided by routinely and proactively updating the operating systems and firmware on managed devices.
Properly patched and managed devices are more secure and run at peak performance, delivering higher levels of productivity and uptime to organizations with properly maintained infrastructure.
6. Lifecycle Management
Lifecycle management is another benefit of proactive IT service management. All forms of IT equipment age, become obsolete, or simply degrade over time.
Items such as fans or hard drives have moving parts and simply fail after a certain life span. Other pieces of hardware such as laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones suffer from significant wear and tear and need to be regularly replaced.
Even many solid-state devices without moving parts, become obsolete because of advancements in software or improvements in networking protocols and standards.
Therefore, organizations should avoid reactive management and thoughtfully and routinely plan for the regular replacement of aging IT equipment and infrastructure by using a proactive approach.
Leading MSPs are laser-focused on helping clients proactively manage the IT lifecycle and properly plan and budget for necessary upgrades.
7. Network Monitoring
Managing IT infrastructure and applications proactively means looking after the network as well. This is another situation where proactive vs. reactive IT management is key.
Network monitoring is essential to determine the health of critical infrastructure and detect and remediate problems before they impact users, communication, or system uptime.
Degraded network performance can be caused by failing hardware, misconfigurations, cyber threats, or excessive capacity utilization.
Proactive intervention when problems are detected often allows an MSP to solve challenges even before the client and users realize there is a problem.
8. IT Budgeting and Strategic Planning
Lastly, proactive IT management requires thoughtful budgeting and strategic planning. Leading MSPs meet with their clients quarterly to review the multi-year IT budget and upgrade program.
A proactive approach to budgeting eliminates financial surprises and helps organizations to prioritize the most important and timely investments. Visiting on budgets regularly allows for necessary changes or adjustments as new business realities emerge.
For example, new cyber threats may call for reprioritized cybersecurity investments or increased customer demand may trigger the need for more infrastructure. The key is to approach IT budgeting and planning in a systematic way, which is one of the core benefits of working with an MSP.
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Reliable managed services are one of the keys to managing IT infrastructure and applications proactively. If you rely on a proactive approach as opposed to a reactive approach, you’ll be able to address issues more effectively by thinking long-term instead of only taking action when things go awry.
While the worlds of reactive and proactive IT management sometimes overlap, relying on a proactive approach is the best way forward.
At NENS, our proactive management style is central to who we are. We specialize in delivering high-quality proactive IT management and support to businesses in the greater Boston area and beyond.
For more information about how we provide proactive service delivery, contact us today.