IT Matters: IT budgeting for the new year

December 08, 2016
Health IT
From the December 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

By Trey Hawkins

We’re just under one month until the new year and everyone seems to be in budget planning mode. IT spending is a key part of the budget equation, so it’s prime time for some tips for your 2017 IT budget planning.

Operating system review
Your 2017 IT budget will most likely include refreshing many of your company’s computers. With new machines now shipping with Windows 10, you’re faced with either migrating all of your computers to Windows 10, or downgrading new computers to Windows 7 or 8.1.

Unless you have good reason to, we wouldn’t recommend downgrading. In addition to elongated support and biometric authentication (including facial, iris and fingerprint recognition), Windows 10 also includes full-disk encryption, which means that if your computer is stolen, the data inside cannot be accessed.

App strategy
Next, it’s important to conduct a review of the apps your business is using, and decide on the ones you want to use in the coming year. Do the current set of apps meet your business needs? Are you beholden to any specific app, or are there other viable options to evaluate?

Server strategy
Once you decide on the apps you would like to use in 2017, it’s necessary to determine the best place to run those apps. If you have physical servers, is it time to refresh them? Are the apps you want to use in 2017 public cloud-ready? Instead of making the investment in new servers, should you leverage the cloud? In terms of server strategy, I recommend a review of each server to see what it’s doing so that you can decide if it’s still the best plan for your company. It’s also important to consider other server-related issues including security, compliance and maintenance.

Security strategy
Adjusting your IT security strategy to match your risks from external threats is of utmost importance, and something you should do every year. The bad guys keep coming up with new ways to hack and attack, so updating your security should be a top priority. Here are four areas of cybersecurity to review so that you can budget for any needed improvements:

• Multifactor authentication. In addition to web access, Outlook, virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), virtual private networks (VPNs) and other ways with which your team connects online and to each other, this includes securing any form of remote access to your network.
• Better backups. Your security strategy should include these two solutions to protect your company from being held hostage: more frequent restore points throughout the day; and off-site replication of your backups. If you didn’t back up all day and you get hit with ransomware at the close of business, you’ve lost that day.

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