A new year is like a blank page. A fresh start with endless possibilities. We resolve to change for the better. A new year is also a chance to look back on the milestones that occurred in the last months. What was achieved? What went wrong? How did things get this way?

New Year’s resolutions can benefit businesses, too. After all, employees are coming back to work rested and ready for new challenges. It’s the perfect time to make improvements. Stuck for ideas? Here are 5 must-make IT resolutions for 2015.

#1: Focus more on total cost of ownership (TCO)

Sure, it may not be the sexiest exercise out there, but this alone could save your business thousands of dollars.

The secret to calculating TCO properly is taking into account ALL costs: direct, indirect and hidden. For example:

Direct costs

Direct costs are linked to the hardware necessary for an on-prem solution—from the hardware to the physical space where you keep your servers. A lot of direct costs are included in these environments, such as square footage, electricity, HVAC, ventilation, redundancy, etc.

Keep in mind that hardware is considered a capital expenditure, so related costs are depreciated over several years versus cloud-based solutions that can be deducted right away.

Indirect costs

Indirect costs include any spending that is not for material, but caused by the hardware. At the top of this list? Human resources. The salary of Sys Admins and any other staff members who spend time maintaining hardware, fixing bugs, etc., rather than working on core activities, are considered indirect costs. Other direct costs include lifecycle, disk magnetic management and security (including insurance, anti-spam and antivirus tools and more).

Hidden costs

My personal favorite! So easy to overlook, hidden costs end up having the greatest impact on your business. Every time an employee has to fix your on-prem solution rather than focus on his or her job, it costs you double: one charge for doing their actual tasks, and another for taking care of support. Lost productivity due to downtime is another hidden cost. How much downtime can your organization afford each year? 1 week? 1 day? 1 hour?

#2: Minimize downtime on your infrastructure

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, downtime is frighteningly expensive. And extremely frustrating. Having available resources that cannot work because applications are down is simply unacceptable. But building a solid infrastructure with minimal downtime entails many key components.

Redundancy

For a network to be redundant, it must still be able to function if everything fails. You’ll need a backup for all primary resources: Internet, electricity, HVAC, ventilation, etc. Big datacenters even have one (or more) generators that will start at a moment’s notice in the event of a power outage. They also get their electricity from various providers. The same applies for the internet.

% Availability  Downtime per year Downtime per month Downtime  per week
90% (“one nine”) 36.5 days 72 hours 16.8 hours
99% (“two nines”) 3.65 days 7.20 hours 1.68 hours
99.9% (“three nines”) 8.76 hours 43.8 minutes 10.1 minutes
99.99% (“four nines”) 52.56 minutes 4.32 minutes 1.01 minutes
99.999% (“five nines”) 5.26 minutes 25.9 seconds 6.05 seconds
99.9999% (“six nines”) 31.5 seconds 2.59 seconds 0.605 seconds
99.99999% (“seven nines”) 3.15 seconds 0.259 seconds 0.0605 seconds

Multi-site

Having a second system ensures that if one system crashes, the other one will take over. Chances are you won’t even notice that a crash occurred.

Disaster recovery

Having clear, practiced and polished disaster recovery policies and procedures in place will save you endless headaches and trouble if a natural or manmade disaster should occur.

Having all of these components in place is important. But it also doubles the costs of a regular on-prem infrastructure. The truth is, this type of investment just isn’t feasible for most SMBs. That’s where the cloud becomes a smart option.

#3: Commit to an effective backup strategy

Whether you’re on-prem or in the cloud, you should ALWAYS have a backup strategy. And it ought to be effective. Otherwise you might as well not have one. Offsite backups are the most effective, and there are countless online backup solutions available, so do your homework and find the one that meets your needs. SherWeb’s Online Backup, for one, backs up both workstations and servers. And if you ever need to restore lost data, you simply reinstall your apps and you’ll be able to access data instantly (an important feature for businesses).

#4: Prioritize data safety

Safety is a top priority. I’m sure – and hope – this isn’t a shock to you. Don’t we all remember the notoriously named iCloud leak from last August? Or more recently, the Sony hack of the movie The Interview? Well what if your organization’s data is at risk? Hint: everybody’s at risk.

That’s why you need protection for all your users: anti-spam, antivirus, firewall, IPS, etc. However, efficient and secure in-house systems come with a salty bill for SMBs, especially if you have few users.

Hosting companies are at risk, too. The difference is they have powerful software and dedicated, specialized resources working full-time on protecting their data and systems.

#5: Comply with industry regulations

Most businesses can skip this resolution and have a great year. But if you’re working in an industry where governmental regulations apply to the data you work with, you’re required to comply. Take law firms and medical organizations for example. They deal with sensitive client information such as health and legal records on a daily basis. Regulations like HIPAA, SOX and GLBA are becoming increasingly strict, and so are non-compliance penalties. Just check out the penalties for HIPAA violations on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ website. Settlements range between $250,000 and $5 million. Now that’s a hefty indirect cost!

That should get you started for 2015. Were there any resolutions that we missed? Wanna get a head start? Jump right into resolution #1!

Download our eBook with TCO calculator now

Hosted Exchange on-premise vs in the cloud

Written by Rémi Nadeau Employee @ SherWeb

Rémi is SherWeb's IT Project Team Leader. With over 6 years of experience at SherWeb, he has worked on key projects for the organization, such as the launch of the SharePoint Private Cloud offering, the deployment of a new Hyper-V infrastructure, and much more. Some of his specialties include Microsoft Exchange, Windows Server and Active Directory.