With most businesses sending their staff home, I thought I’d put up a very quick post to share a few thoughts, and ideas for smaller departments or those without a Coronavirus Task Force. I’m happy to keep this up to date with any suggestions from you LinkedIn or Twitter folk for anything that I’ve missed, so throw me some suggestions! I’m going to include a few companies that have reached out to me over the past couple of weeks with useful free trials of their software which could be helpful.
4 quick steps
- Firstly find out which part of your business is critical to ensuring you keep operating. Prioritise those people.
- Hardware and software. Do these people have a mobile device and the correct accessories to do their job? Is the correct software on their machines? Can they install it themselves, or do they need you to help out?
- Remote Access – whether that be VPN, reverse proxies, IDaaS – whatever technology you use to allow people to access their apps, have they got it installed / enabled to allow them to work from outside your office / corporate network?
- Licensing. I know, people forget about this, but do you have enough licenses for your users for your VPN for example? If you’re redeploying desktop users onto laptops, does your licensing cover it?
Once you’ve got that covered off – lets focus on things you can do to enable those users, or ensure you as ‘IT’ can do to keep things ticking along nicely
Firstly, and the most important thing is communication, not just within your team, but across your business. If you’re an O365 user, enable Teams for everyone. If you’re not, it doesn’t matter either, Microsoft are giving it to anyone upto 1000 users for free for 6 months. If you’re not a fan of the Microsoft stack, then go to Slack – its awesome too. Cisco are also offering a 90-day trial of their Webex product too.
If you’re a business who are an on premise house, and prefer ‘visual’ checks of your hardware, you’re going to need to find an alternative to it whilst you’re at home. Even if you’re a heavy cloud user, the number of immature monitoring out there is eye watering.
I’m a big fan of the dynatrace platform, and they’re offering a free trial until September 19th, well worth looking at even if you don’t commit to it long term. If you’re looking at a more traditional monitoring options, there are open-source options such as NetData, a booming application with huge popularity on GitHub which I’ve not yet tried out myself, but looks superb. There’s your more establishing monitoring tools such as Nagios and Zabbix too if you’re that way inclined.
Yeah, I know – the least sexy part of any IT Ops job, but its critical – especially if you have to recover and have to do it remotely. If you’re not already checking your backups daily, I suggest you do, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to test those restores if you don’t already. Veeam still offer their basic FREE edition which will cover you for those desktop (and servers) if you need to. They’ve got a super mature product if you’ve not used it before, and works on pretty much anything.
Yeah, I’ve used a word even worse than the dreaded backups, Change. My advice, as many have already done is to stop any non-essential changes in your environments. Put non-critical projects and hold and make a concerted effort within your teams to focus on ensuring your business is operating as well as it can.
Last but not least, look after your family. Encourage everyone to self-isolate (where possible), and remember that social distancing includes family and friends. Try not to panic buy, its selfish and the government are never going to deny people food.