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Tip of the Week: Embrace the Right Software for Your Business

Tip of the Week: Embrace the Right Software for Your Business

It is not unusual for the business that has been in business for a while to have used a number of software titles that either are completely ineffective, or are known to be security risks. The use of cheap, or free, software is prevalent among individuals and organizations that don’t realize that it pays to have a software strategy in place. For this week’s tip, we’ll talk about software and how something so crucial to the success or failure of a business needs to be taken seriously.

Free Software
First, we’ll start with free software, or freeware. These are typically open-sourced software titles that can be utilized by individuals to accomplish things without having a budget. For every software company that charges substantial licensing fees for use of their software, there are two that charge nothing. Open-source software, free or not, allows people to distribute and alter the source code to (theoretically) improve it.

Software developers that develop and distribute open-source software create opportunities for millions of people per year. These software titles provide people that don’t have the capital to spend, but have a demand for software, a solution. Some of the most popular open-source software titles include:

  • Linux (operating system)
  • Android (mobile operating system)
  • Gimp (image editing)
  • Mozilla Firefox (Internet browser)
  • Audacity (sound editing/mixing software)
  • VLC media player (Media player)
  • Apache OpenOffice (Productivity suite)
  • Wordpress (Internet website creation program)
  • MySQL (relational database management)
  • SuiteCRM (customer relationship management)
  • Elgg (social networking)

Some of these titles can be confidently utilized by businesses without any real thought about how they would affect the security of an organization.

Enterprise Software Strategy
When you own a business, however, you have to make sure that the software that you use is not going to be a problem for you in terms of network security. So while cost will definitely increase, there are some major benefits to utilizing paid software in that they do have integrated protections for security (or at least the management of that security).

One way to do this is by doing it conventionally and assigning all the applications that are whitelisted onto every business-owned workstation, whether that is a desktop or a laptop. This will provide every user every app your company will need. While there is some overlap (e.g. your HR rep isn’t likely going to need a video-editing application), you know exactly what software is running on every machine at all times; making it much easier to manage.

Another strategy is to assign applications by department. Each computer that is going to be used by any given department will have the same software on it. This allows you to alter the amount of licenses you’ll need, reducing cost, while being able to provide all the applications each department needs to be successful.

Yet another strategy, and one that many businesses rely on, is to utilize some open-source software to reduce costs, but provide each user with the specific applications that user needs to be as productive as possible. This provides the most flexibility, and a significant cost reduction depending on the software that you choose to utilize. The problem with this strategy is that management costs tend to rise.

Shadow IT
One strategy that should be avoided at all times is allowing your staff to run roughshod over their workstations with software titles that haven’t been vetted by the proper channels; whether that is your IT administrator, a department manager or whomever is responsible for overseeing the software-integration process. Your staff will download software they find useful, no matter what the organization’s regulations are. This can have a lot of negative outcomes, including applications that don’t work properly with the hardware, a lack of network or workstation security, or significant downtime to remedy any problem with it.

Regardless what your strategy is, keeping malware off your network has to be a priority. The IT professionals at Data Net know exactly how to keep your network, workstations, and infrastructure safe, while providing your staff the resources they need to move your business forward. Find out what we can do for you by giving us a call today at (760) 466-1200.

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