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Crash Test

Face it, computers and networks will inevitably fail. How will you handle it?

It's dinnertime and you face that age-old question: order in or make something yourself? Likewise, do you outsource IT for your business, or is this one more job for your company's chief cook and bottle washer--you?

We're only becoming more dependent on our IT resources, which, unfortunately, go down at times. The Disaster Recovery Journal reports that computer systems fail an average of nine times a year for about four hours. And not everyone can afford IT staff.

If you're the ex officio IT manager, software from Alpha Software and Paragent can help you manage your IT resources. Paragent's desktop management software lets virtually anyone in a company manage the network. Get real-time system data, run diagnostics, fix critical issues and perform updates quickly and even remotely.

Richard Rabins, co-founder of Alpha Software, stresses the importance of making the most of each software dollar and staying competitive by staying flexible. With Alpha Software's database platform, you can save money by creating and managing your own custom desktop applications online.

On the flip side, Rabins, who is also co-founder of the Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, says outsourcing to a local IT company or managed service provider can be an efficient option, leaving you free to "focus on what you do best."

PCformance, for example, provides various server, workstation and networking services to Southern California small and midsize businesses. Hiring such a company will not only put your IT issues in the hands of qualified experts, but also establish a relationship. "I get to know your system and your business," says owner Steve Holmes. "If I was a car mechanic, for example, it helps to know [if] you're going to be racing the Indy 500, taxiing New Yorkers or driving the Coast Highway on Sundays."

A managed service provider also provides contractual IT services and can fix and maintain a business's network remotely and on an ongoing basis. Serving the Southeast, MasterIT provides network fixes as well as regular updates and preventive maintenance. CEO Michael Drake points to the need for continuous management as technology rapidly evolves. Says Drake, "The internet lets MSPs seamlessly diagnose and remedy IT issues before they become problems."

Like this article? Get this issue right now on iPad, Nook or Kindle Fire.

This article was originally published in the August 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Crash Test.

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