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VersaTrust has been serving the Texas area since 1997 , providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

IT Solutions and Services: How to Know What You Truly Need

Running a business successfully requires you to rely on IT solutions and services in various capacities. However, trying to evaluate all of the different options and determining what you actually need from a provider to run your business well can be a challenge. You know that you need IT services to help you navigate all the modern technology demands that companies face, so you need more than just a support line you can call when things break. You want access to proactive IT that will help you advance your business. At the same time, you know that you probably do not need everything that IT companies are trying to sell to you.

The necessary services that will benefit your business will likely differ from one company to the next. However, we will walk you through the essential core IT solutions you want to ensure that your business has the support it needs.

IT Solutions and Services To Incorporate at a Minimum

You will want to consider how the different IT services fit your business model. This will help you make the best decisions to support your business. However, you will likely want to begin by building a list of core services, including the following IT solutions.

Interested in learning more about what managed IT services can do for you? Explore 10 benefits your company can receive right now.

1. Help desk with remote support

Your company relies on a wealth of technology for daily operations. Not only do you have computers and all the relevant software and services, but you also have your scanners, printers, and phone systems. Therefore, you want IT services that include a help desk you can contact when needed for assistance with installing, setting up, and maintaining the technology.

2. Cybersecurity

Data has become a central component of running a business in today’s business world. You use it to make important decisions about the strategies and action plans you need to move forward. This data comes with a huge responsibility: your employees and clients depend on you to protect and secure it. Any IT package must include network IT security services and cybersecurity.

3. Backup and recovery

Even with cybersecurity best practices, the risk remains for data breaches or other means of data loss or damage. Businesses must take backups seriously. You do not want to neglect the importance of this step in protecting your data. If anything negatively impacts the data, your backup will provide what you need to keep the business moving forward.

Make sure that the IT solutions package you get includes offsite backups and that they are regularly tested. That way, you will not be caught unaware if you end up calling upon the backup.

4. Cloud solutions

Cloud solutions have rapidly become popular options for companies because of their benefits. Specifically, users experience flexibility and improved security through the cloud. They can access their data and workflows remotely, allowing them to continue moving forward even if something keeps them from getting into the office. Companies also appreciate the ability to create improved business budgets with cloud services.

Look for a quality cloud solutions provider offering Azure support plans so your business can also take advantage of all the cloud has to offer.

Experience the benefits of outsourced IT with VersaTrust to see what the cloud can do for you.

5. Business phone services

If you have VOIP or cloud phones, it’s often a safe bet will also want your IT provider to manage them. If something goes wrong with your IT services and software, you want to have one vendor who can help you manage software updates, and patching and integration with the rest of your systems, rather than having to coordinate between two or more because of a separate VOIP provider.

6. IT consulting

Technology continues to change rapidly with new capabilities and expectations emerging all the time. A consulting component to your IT services gives you strategic guidance that evaluates your needs and company direction with different capabilities and available options. The outcome is a long-term vision of what will most benefit your organization and how to implement it.

7. Training

Remember, that to employ technology successfully, you not only need to choose between the different options, but you also need to incorporate it into your workflow and then train your employees. Beyond training for purposes of adoption, cybersecurity awareness training is critical to keeping your network secure. Over 80% of successful ransomware attacks start at the employee level.

Getting IT Support Should Not be a Hassle

The right IT services will help your business excel. The key is knowing whether the provider is going to live up to the expectations. Be clear in articulating what you think you need. Listen to what they recommend – and ask questions if you’re not confident or comfortable with their recommendations.

Be sure to ask potential IT service providers specific questions like:

  1. What is your process for handling support requests?
  2. How long is the average ticket response time?
  3. How long is the average ticket resolution time?
  4. What level of support will you provide if we get hit with ransomware or a phishing attack?
  5. How are you securing our network?
  6. How do you secure your network to ensure that hackers can’t access us through you?
  7. Are offsite backups included? If so, how often are they tested?

Without well-supported IT, you can’t do business. Make sure you have the support you need.

Want better IT Services? Contact VersaTrust. We’ve been helping Fort Worth businesses feel good about their IT Service for over 25 years.

The Benefits of Migrating to the Cloud With VersaTrust

By now, you’re probably aware of the fact that your company would benefit from a move to the cloud. However, accepting this fact and getting ready to migrate your company are profoundly different. It can be challenging for many small- and medium-sized businesses to prepare themselves for a move to the cloud, especially if they’re doing it without the help of a trusted and trained expert.

As you start planning the move and get caught up in the stress of migration, it’s easy to lose sight of the potential benefits that the cloud can offer your company. If that purpose is lost, it’s tempting to take shortcuts and cut corners to save money, to the detriment of your future growth, revenue, and productivity.

Fortunately, VersaTrust is here to help guide you towards the best solutions for your business. As a Dallas-Fort Worth cloud services expert, we specialize in leveraging the cloud to create unique, custom solutions for our clients, to help encourage their growth, security, productivity, and so much more.

Today, we’ll guide you through the process of working with us on a custom cloud computing solution, then demonstrate how it can add long-term value to your business.

How VersaTrust Implements Convenient Cloud Computing Solutions

By now, you’re probably aware of how cloud computing solutions can be combined with on-premise tools and products to create a working environment that is completely customized to your company’s needs. This is how we do it:

We begin each partnership with a business-needs discussion, so we can deeply understand your business and the processes that are integral to its success. From there, we’ll analyze the current state of your IT and conduct a risk assessment to uncover vulnerable areas. During this phase, we’ll also take a look at your systems and software to determine whether any of your current systems can be streamlined or improved to offer greater functionality or productivity.

Once we’re aware of your needs and familiar with your current IT environment, we can get to work designing a cloud solution that matches your business goals.

Not only are our services fully scalable, they’re also available for a flat-rate fee. That means that you can rest easy, knowing that regardless of what happens, you’re protected and will never have to pay additional unanticipated costs.

This leaves you free to focus both your attention and budget on business growth, with the assurance that your cloud solutions will always be able to keep pace. Along the way, we’ll be there to support you with 24/7 service and support, along with resources and other information you can use to make the most of your custom IT solution.

How Your Company Can Benefit From a Move to the Cloud

Now that you’re more familiar with the process of setting up your new cloud computing solution, let’s focus on the potential benefits for your business.

Scalability and flexibility

Incorporating your new cloud solution into your day-to-day routines should be easy. However, that’s just the beginning. As many companies grow, they’re forced to make larger and larger hardware investments to keep up with demand. Investing in a cloud solution allows you space to grow with your company without the need for costly ongoing investments.

In addition to offering scalability that can be utilized at will, a great cloud solution offers flexibility. Whether you need to support a hybrid workforce, allow people to work from home as needed, or even just enable remote access temporarily, a cloud solution makes this all not only possible, but unbelievably easy.

Instead of your staff having to change their routines according to technical capabilities, now your cloud can easily adjust to accommodate their needs. This ongoing flexibility prioritizes the needs of staff, encouraging productivity and creativity.

Save on infrastructure costs

When it comes to on-premise infrastructure, the potential capital expenditures never end. While this may have been a fiscally responsible choice in the past, the reality is that current cloud services offer not only increased infrastructure functionality, but also the potential for major long-term cost savings.

According to a Microsoft survey, 20% of SMBs that transitioned to the cloud said that this reduced their IT budget within 3 years. Only 4% of non-cloud companies could say that their IT spend went down during the same period.

Instead of regularly spending money on the parts and labor required to maintain and upgrade outdated hardware, your business can take advantage of the reasonable and predictable costs associated with the cloud. This lowers your total cost of ownership and allows your internal IT team to focus on innovation rather than maintenance.

Recovery options and speed

Working with on-premise hardware means that the central system that keeps your business functional is vulnerable in a variety of ways, including from:

  •  A natural disaster
  • Cybersecurity incident
  • Human error

These issues can easily disrupt your operations, causing downtime that halts productivity and causes both reputational and financial damage.

Once you’ve moved to the cloud, your data is immediately safeguarded from these types of threats. Additionally, we can implement a variety of protective measures around your data in the cloud, ensuring compliance with industry standards.

When your data and critical processes are protected from threats in this way, disaster recovery and backups also become a lot more straightforward. We can work with you to design and implement regular backups, and help create a robust disaster recovery strategy that will ensure your company’s safety in the event of a breach or natural disaster.

Create a Custom Cloud Solution With VersaTrust

Now that you’re more informed about the benefits of a custom cloud computing solution, we’d love to get started today. We have more than 25 years of experience working with Texas companies to design IT solutions that match their current needs, while offering the flexibility and scalability they require to support ongoing growth.

Our experts specialize in creating top-of-the-line custom cloud solutions, enabling you to take control of the future of your business and guide it where it needs to go.

Contact VersaTrust today to get started in the cloud.

How Partnering With a NIST-Compliant MSP Can Help You Meet Compliance Needs

When you’re working on government and Department of Defense (DOD) contracts, trust and reliability are key. In a world where cyberattacks cost businesses and governments billions of dollars each year, your cyber readiness can have a critical impact on the contracts you secure and the business you gain. To guarantee the right level of service and security, most government clients demand compliance with key standards like the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology), CMMC , and others.

Unless you specialize in cybersecurity, your in-house IT likely will not meet strict government standards. If you aren’t NIST compliant, for instance, most bids will be rejected automatically. IT compliance isn’t optional anymore – you need to be compliant with key security standards, and the best way to do this is to partner with a managed services provider (MSP) with a documented track record of security compliance like VersaTrust.

What Do You Need to be Compliant?

There are two key cybersecurity compliance standards businesses need to be compliant with when handling government and DOD projects. These are:

  • The NIST CSF (Cybersecurity Framework)
  • The CMMC (Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification)

Both of these are voluntary sets of standards. However, agencies often require compliance to move forward with projects. For instance, any government subcontractor that stores, transmits, or processes CUI (controlled unclassified information) needs to be compliant with the NIST’s SP 800-171 standard. Before 2018, self-attested compliance with security standards was often “good enough.” However, the situation has changed now. Under Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) 252.204-7012, government partners and subcontractors need a documented and audited security compliance trail. 

Why Compliance is Important

You’re probably not going to have the in-house IT capabilities to meet the NIST and CMMC requirements. This is why it’s so important to work with a fully compliant MSP like VersaTrust. As your security partner, the MSP you work with has access to your documents, sensitive data, and CUI. Compliance, in this case, isn’t just about meeting specific government needs for projects. It’s also about working with a security partner who ensures your data stays safe and away from the eyes of cybercriminals.

What about the CMMC?

The NIST framework in general and NIST SP 800-171, in particular, are voluntary sets of standards that companies can look at and work toward. When it comes to U.S. government projects, though, an aspirational approach to security – “we’ll get there someday” – isn’t going to cut it. Thanks to self-attestation and a lack of consistent verification methods, NIST SP 800-171 suffered from low levels of compliance: few of the firms contracted by the government actually bothered to meet all the NIST SP standards. This is where CMMC comes into the picture .

The CMMC is not the same as NIST

A common misconception is that the CMMC is the same as NIST. This is not true. The CMMC was built to address the shortcomings of poor NIST compliance after U.S. government contractors were repeatedly hit with cyberattacks and data breaches they weren’t prepared to handle. The Department of Defense introduced the CMMC to ensure compliance at every level of the supply chain in the defense industrial base (DIB).

Remember: the CMMC isn’t optional

Unlike NIST, CMMC compliance is mandatory if you want to work on DOD projects. Your IT team will need a CMMC compliance certificate, or you’ll need to work with a fully compliant MSP. This is where VersaTrust can bridge the gap between your in-house security and the CMMC’s stringent requirements.

How VersaTrust Can Help You Move Beyond Compliance

When your business has the capabilities and experience to deliver solid results on U.S. government projects, IT compliance should not be holding you back. When you partner with VersaTrust, you shift the security-compliant burden over to a proven, trusted MSP. We have a well-documented compliance process that’s in full alignment with NIST and the more stringent CMMC provisions.

What does this mean for your business? You’ll be able to successfully bid on a wider range of U.S. government and DOD projects where security compliance is mandatory. By partnering with VersaTrust, you get the benefits of a fully compliant IT and security team at the fraction of the cost of enforcing compliance in-house.

At VersaTrust, we work with you to continually improve IT compliance over time as your business grows so that compliance issues will never be a roadblock when securing new projects.

Reach out today at (817) 595-0111! Let’s get on a free consultation call to talk about how VersaTrust can help you navigate DOD and U.S. government IT compliance regulations.

6 IT Essentials You Simply Can’t Cut – and 3 You Can

During good times, businesses usually operate IT on the just enough and just in time standard. Often, this includes putting off upgrades and license renewals until the last moment in favor of cash-on-hand or other investments. However, much like a hospital that routinely operates at 98% of their bed capacity, when a downturn hits – like a global pandemic – there’s no surge capacity on hand.

When that happens, you find yourself playing a game of cash crunch. It goes like this: you’re tightrope-walking your budget while juggling priorities like thrashing chainsaws.

Though you might be tempted to cut all of your IT spending cold, doing so will end up costing you more than you aim to save.

CUTTING BUDGETS? DON’T CUT ESSENTIALS LIKE NETWORK SECURITY

Prevention and preparation are the best cure. In healthcare, that means vaccination and quarantine. In IT terms, it means:

  • Avoiding surprises – plan for updates and budget for your needs to avoid shocks and outages
  • Keeping warranties and licenses current – do not let these lapse
  • Installing the latest patches
  • Building out your infrastructure with a 30% cushion to accommodate surges in bandwidth needs

When your Fort Worth-area business faces a downturn, cutting the budget is usually necessary and there are some reasonable, risk-appropriate ways to reduce your IT costs. However, some IT assets should be protected at all costs because the risks are much higher than the savings.

These are the risks that a project-based client neglected to weigh before suffering a nightmarish ransomware attack that, while tragic, perfectly illustrates why you need network security.

THE CONSEQUENCES OF CUTTING THE WRONG IT ASSETS FROM THE BUDGET

The client, a 300-employee bank with $1B in assets, was struck with ransomware shortly after Texas enacted shelter-in-place orders. In the months leading up to the lockdown, we advised the bank about their expiring backup contract and urged them to renew before they lapsed. Feeling comfortable that their files were already backed up, they opted not to spend the money – with severe consequences.

One click causes big trouble
Amidst the flurry of legitimate COVID-19 related emails the bank received, an employee clicked on a phishing attack and the hacker got ahold of 30% of the bank’s data and demanded a ransom. As proof of their successful breach, the hacker posted a spreadsheet from the CFO’s system that contained all of the bank’s vendor passwords.

Insufficient data backup exacerbated the damage
Immediately upon identifying the breach, VersaTrust took measures to lock down the bank’s systems and access their data backup. With their storage contract lapsed, the vendor did not have all the backup data available. Days would go by until their support would handle the case.

A very costly click, indeed
As a result, a breach that shouldn’t have happened produced a system outage that lasted 24 hours. During that time, no ATM transactions, loans or other sources of revenue could take place for the bank. Moreover, with their vendor password list fully exposed, they had no choice but to pay tens of thousands to ransom their data.

6 IT ESSENTIALS YOU SHOULD NOT CUT – NOW OR EVER

When budgets do need to be thinned out, we strongly encourage you to engage your managed IT services provider to work with you to consider all the risks and make a new IT plan without leaving you exposed. The real-life example of our regional bank client illustrates how missing just one of these IT assets is too big a risk to take while reducing your budget.

  1. Firewalls and internet connections
    During the tumult of the COVID-19 crisis, connectivity infrastructure has proven to be very difficult to ramp up. Many vendors and service providers are short-staffed and overwhelmed with requests while, at the same time, businesses shifting to remote work setups usually require a substantial expansion in bandwidth and connectivity hardware.
  2. Warranties and service subscriptions
    Allowing the warranties and essential subscriptions to lapse on critical devices is extremely risky during a downturn and crisis. Servers, critical computers, core network components, and main switches are essential to maintain business operations. Running these devices without a warranty is like driving without insurance or headlights during a midnight hailstorm.
  3. Upgrades and patches
    Outdated systems are more prone to crashes. This is precisely what happened to a healthcare prospect of ours. It caused an outage that prevented them from seeing patients, and they lost desperately needed revenue during the coronavirus crisis.
  4. Basic network security
    Disruption of any kind creates an opportunity-rich environment for hackers. In these moments, they nearly always go after the easiest targets, not the most cash-heavy ones. That’s why downturns and periods of disruption are the times to tighten your cybersecurity measures, rather than cut them as our bank client learned.
  5. Backups
    Keeping your network secure requires backups. Our bank client lost an entire day of revenue because of not having a current backup service plan which would have allowed them to immediately recover from the attack and keep their revenues coming in.
  6. Employee cybersecurity training
    Most breaches happen or are exacerbated by a lack of cybersecurity training for employees. During a disruptive event like a global pandemic, employee cybersecurity training becomes even more important because employees are distracted.

It’s clear that a little bit of cybersecurity awareness training would have gone a long way to stop the bank’s tellers, clerks, and loan officers from opening an unexpected PDF attachment from the CFO, who had previously never emailed most of them. Few had the training, and most were preoccupied like so many of us are. Consequently, many employees clicked the link and were exposed.

3 AREAS YOU CAN REDUCE YOUR IT SPEND RIGHT NOW

These are the times that any good business knows to tighten the belt and avoid unnecessary expenses.

  1. Don’t support people who aren’t there
    Engage your IT provider in a review, or true-up, of your IT situation. You’re paying your IT services for a certain number of employees – and if you’ve let some go, or furloughed any, you don’t need to support that same number. A reputable IT partner will work with you to reduce your support costs accordingly – at least temporarily.
  2. Eliminate extra licenses
    Similarly, if you’ve reduced your workforce, then you may have software licenses that you no longer need to pay for. If you’ve increased your workforce, there may be a more affordable per-person price you are entitled to.
  3. Defer network upgrades – but extend warranties
    Though we normally recommend a lifespan of 5 years for most equipment, we’d be the first to advise that if you don’t have an IT budget, this isn’t the time to upgrade otherwise functioning and warrantied equipment. A temporary, but low-risk option, might be to defer the upgrade while extending the warranty on the existing hardware. If the warranty is going to expire without renewal options, plan to replace the equipment.

PREPARE FOR THE NEXT CRISIS AND A COVID-19 SECOND WAVE

You never know when a global pandemic might come out of China. Even though we’re all getting back to work, we recognize that many businesses are figuring out how to stay solvent, and we’re all wondering what impact the extended shelter-in-place orders will have on the economy.

Don’t cut anything from your IT budget without the support of a trusted security-focused IT professional first. Call us (817) 595-0111 or contact us online. We’ll help retool your IT budget safely and strategically.