However, you can't always manage each individual machine, and a careless user could turn off these defenses and let viruses in. This is where having a drive image copy can come in handy.
Another way to enforce security policies and other protective measures is to deploy some endpoint security tool that will block unhealthy PCs from gaining network access. Napera is one product that is specifically targeted at SMB installations, and McAfee and Sophos have others.
Matt Stevenson, who is the director of information technology for Talyst, a pharmacy automation vendor, has been using the US$3500 Napera appliance on his 120-node network for the past six months. "A lot of our staff is out in the field, and they attach to a wide variety of networks. When they come back to our office, the Napera box forces their PCs to become compliant and to ensure that our network won't get infected," he says.
6. Rely on VoIP PBX for Your Phone System
As more and more big IT shops can attest, using a VoIP PBX telephone system has tremendous cost advantages. The biggest one is for your remote workers who can have extensions on your headquarters' phone system. These systems are also very flexible in terms of call handling, and offer other features such as call forwarding, multiple simultaneous rings (where an incoming call can be answered wherever it is more convenient), so-called follow-me (where incoming calls are routed to particular numbers at particular times of the day), and do-not-disturb.
"Now businesses are able to get features that can set the rules on how they are contacted, and be able to conduct more business when they aren't in their office," says Henry Kaestner, the founder and CEO of Internet phone provider Bandwidth.com, one of the many vendors that offer this kind of service. CBeyond and Asterisk are other companies that offer VoIP PBX.
These systems start at around US$400 a month and have the advantage of being able to grow or contract with your staffing needs. They also can present your company as more professional, with features that are normally found on very expensive phone systems. The downside is that you need to ensure that your network is up to snuff to handle all the voice traffic; and to get the most out of these systems, you'll want to find a VAR or consultant who specializes in VoIP PBX installations.