Software to Power Your Business
Most business owners have enough on their plates without trying to keep track of all the latest technology changes, but it is important to have at least a basic understanding of the types of available software and the role it plays in your IT infrastructure. Software for small and mid-size businesses can be complex if you don’t understand it, so here’s a basic rundown on what you need and why you need it.
Operating systems are the basic software that controls a computer. You must have an operating system to make a computer run. They take care of mundane tasks such as file storage methods, controlling peripherals such as printers and booting up the system. The most familiar operating system to most people is
Microsoft Windows. In addition to the version running on your desktop PC, there are versions specifically designed to run servers and applications. Other common operating systems used for SMB management include Linux and UNIX. Standardizing operating systems for your organization should be one of your first decisions.
Database software stores your information in a format that your applications can work with. Every application you use to run your business has a database to keep track of your information. It is easier to manage your systems if you standardize on a single database for all your business applications because you will only need to learn one system to support all applications. You may want to decide on a database before you select any applications. You may want to select a primary business system such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) suite and then standardize the rest of your applications on the same database.
Databases usually store data in fields grouped with other like data into files or tables. Most common databases are relational, which means the software maintains relationships between the data in one table and another. For example, if your order management system has a customer table and an order table, the customer name would be stored in the customer table and the application would retrieve it when it needs to print or display the name. The link between the two tables is often the customer number in this case, and the database software maintains the relationship between the two tables. Database software may also provide a trail or log of any changes, among other tasks. The most common database for SMBs is Microsoft SQL Server. Enterprise level databases include IBM DB2 and Oracle, but they are often considered to be too complex and expensive for SMB use.
Nearly everyone who has ever used a PC has used some form of email software. The most popular email system is Microsoft Outlook, which is also now available as a cloud offering in Office 365. Using Outlook, users can retrieve their messages over the Internet using almost any device. Some SMB businesses may also decide to use online, cloud-based applications like Google to support their email software needs. Since email is one of the most common ways of business communication, you will want to select an email system early on.
File management software helps companies organize their documents and files to make it easy to store, find and share information. As your business grows, you will begin accumulating more information outside of your core business systems. You may have customer contracts, company presentations, packing slips, quality reports or in-house procedures. The proliferation of data and related files makes it hard for users to find the information they need unless the files are well organized. You should select a file management system before you absolutely need it, and develop a flexible and concise yet comprehensive table structure so users know where to find and store data. If you wait too long to select a file management system, it will be more difficult to organize all the files.
Two of the best file management systems available are Microsoft SharePoint and Google Apps for Business. Both allow users to access information over the Internet, and with the proper security enables sharing with people outside the organization. Both applications look and feel like the file management available on Windows PCs, so most users have no trouble learning to use it.
Virtualization is used to create a virtual, as opposed to physical, version of a computer. A virtual instance includes the operating system, file and storage management, network resources, and memory allocations as well as application software such as Microsoft office or your company ERP system. Most companies use virtualization to improve performance of their systems without having to buy a dedicated server for every application or work stream.
The most well regarded virtualization software available is VMware, but other companies, including Microsoft, offer excellent virtualization software. VMware is a leader in the world of virtualization, and continues to be innovative in the software that it offers. VMware’s virtualization software allows businesses to be more efficient and, in turn, more profitable. One of its many benefits include streamlined and automated management tasks that eliminate the time your staff will have to spend on maintenance. If interested, check out the software
offered by VMware today.
While backups sound dull and routine, they are very critical to small and mid-sized businesses. Many operating systems include backup software, but software designed specifically to manage agentless backups is a good investment because of the speed, flexibility and reliability of the process. Veeam provides an excellent backup system that works in both physical and virtual environments. It is cost effective, easy to use and reliable. You should select a backup solution immediately if you don’t already have one. Backup software in the long term is inexpensive and effective, especially considering the cost and disruption of trying to recreate all your data in the event of a system failure, fire, flood or other unforeseen disasters.
Now that you understand the necessary software for SMB IT environments you are equipped with the information to configure the right solutions for your company. If you have questions or need assistance deciding on the right software, contact Aventis Systems. We offer Small Business Software Implementation as one of our Advanced IT Services to get your company up and running, hassle-free!