4 Essential IT Services to Take Your Small Business Global

April 20, 2017

IT services to take your business global

Going global sounds great in theory but all the logistical details may overwhelm you. Have you ever wondered how it will all work? Country- and customer-specific data management rules might even discourage you from taking the next step for your business. You’re about to find out how easy it is to get started on the global stage. Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Department Head of IT, Brad Button, has over 13 years of technology experience and currently manages our global network infrastructure for our international company. He shares four valuable services that will make the transition to global much more accessible.

First Steps – Addressing Networking Infrastructure Costs

If you are looking to spread your business across international borders and time zones, one of the first logistics issues you run across is networking infrastructure cost. It may not seem like much at first glance; maybe adding a couple of Gmail accounts, setting up Dropbox for a file server, and feeling like you’re all set to go. However, the challenges have just begun: you will soon find that your clients, their employees, and the countries where they all live will have very strict demands and regulations surrounding how their data is handled. For instance, Dropbox and the free Gmail accounts that you opened may not have the enterprise level controls needed to meet those requirements. Or you quickly face obstacles with security, data redundancy, data transmission across borders, and even access speeds for clients and employees. These problems can be hard enough on their own to solve, but add to them the enterprise level cost required to mitigate these requirements and the odds seem stacked against you.

How can a small business with a matching small budget make this work all without breaking the bank? The answer is software as a service (SaaS) and software defined networks (SD-WAN):

  • If your small business has physical servers, consider transitioning to the cloud or SaaS rather than upgrading. SaaS providers allow anyone to have the latest Windows server without the headaches of hardware and colocation.
  • Avoid clunky old VPN devices and routers to connect to the network; instead, go with SD-WAN. You can configure the network as you see fit and meet the requirements clients may have for security and accessibility. This lets businesses avoid costly hardware and slow connections caused by sparsely located VPN routers for a global workforce. Networks become decentralized, flexible and secure at a fraction the cost of an enterprise router and a data center cabinet.

Expanding your small business to have a global footprint is a significant and exciting growth point – don’t let technology barriers be the one thing holding you back. Consider the following four services when you go global.

Four Must-Have IT Services

  1. Office 365 Enterprise (E3 & E5 plans)

This is an easy one. Office 365 is the affordable one-stop-shop for any size business. Taking care of your essential Office needs with only a set monthly fee per user, having Office 365 means that Office apps are updated with no additional charge as new versions become available. Plus, you no longer have to worry about maintaining an Exchange email server backend, which means eliminating extensive cost, knowledge, and maintenance involved with running an on-site exchange solution.

The E3 and E5 plans come with a full office pro suite including Outlook and Access. Already have an existing Microsoft domain? Office 365 makes it easy to sync your existing users. Office 365 is a must have for any growing business that is used to Microsoft office products. Free trials are available.

            Pro Tip: “One Drive” may not be worth trying as a file server replacement because it focuses on storage for individual users rather than a company file server with shared storage.

  1. Amazon Web Services

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a cloud infrastructure offering that, quite simply, provides too many solutions and benefits to businesses to list in this article. The bottom line though is that AWS allows almost anything that can be achieved with physical servers to be reproduced or improved in the cloud. If you have Windows servers currently for Active Directory (user database) or any other Microsoft server roles, you will feel right at home with a virtual AWS server.

Setup is easy and pricing is transparent with different models to suit your business needs. Best of all, AWS has hosting regions for virtual servers all around the world. Get your feet wet for free with a “micro tier” server and see what’s possible before you invest in this option.

            Pro Tip: Locating servers by regions helps with data regulation compliance and access speeds.

  1. Egnyte Connect & Protect

At first glance, Egnyte seems like any other cloud file server allowing companies to store and share files at will. However, once you start digging a bit deeper, you will find answers to problems that you didn’t know even existed. Beyond being “simply” a cloud-based file server, Egnyte allows users to share files and accept uploads from clients over secure connection via the browser – this is as easy as a couple of clicks. When sharing files through Egnyte, you can be confident in the protection of your data: link security can be as rugged as needed to make sure data leaving the organization is compliant with data security requirements. Egnyte also gives generous amounts of space and makes archiving, versioning, and recovery effortless. Finally, one of most valuable offerings is the “Egnyte Drive.” This feature allows you to have a secured connection with Egnyte that works like any other windows network drive without having to sync files like many other cloud file services. That translates to speed, agility, and data security.

Free trials are available. Make sure to speak with the assigned Egnyte representative about the trial period so all the wonderful features of this platform can be explored.

Pro Tip: Egnyte has lots of integrations too. If your business is already using services like Office 365 or Salesforce, they will find it easy to integrate.

  1. ZeroTier

ZeroTier is a SD-WAN solution to network all company computers and virtual servers together. This service allows both simple and complex SSL VPN networks to be created as your business needs them.

A VPN provides an encrypted connection between various business devices that acts as though those devices are connected in the same building. It also allows administrators to control network traffic as needed for compliance purposes. Setting up a Microsoft domain is easy when everything is connected via ZeroTier. The egress and ingress points for devices to enter the network is provided at no charge with this service, but administrators can still set major hubs if needed for compliance reasons.

The best part is that ZeroTeir is free for up to 100 devices per network. Fees begin for networks with more than 100 devices or for enterprise-level support.

Pro Tip: At first glance this service seems like just another cog in the machine of a company’s network; however, the realization that the SD-WAN is the glue that binds the whole network together becomes quickly apparent. Don’t delay with this service, it will revolutionize any network no matter your budget or needs.

These four IT services are absolute essentials to start your company’s global growth without going in the red. They are innovative and change the way companies of all sizes approach global growth, stability, security, and compliance. This is by no means an exhaustive list – every business will have its own unique technology needs. However, with these four service offerings, small- and mid-sized companies will be able to compete with their bigger competitors on the global stage. As your organization grows globally, these services will help your IT support services scale with it.

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