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The following SWOT was performed on AEnergy’s current infrastructure, to determine if it will be able to handle the load of the new buildings. “A SWOT analysis is a planning and brainstorming tool that helps people evaluate an idea or project for a business or formulate a business plan (Harmon, 2015).” The meaning of SWOT is Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The current system was analyzed using the SWOT, and the following analysis and suggestions were made from that SWOT.
The first strength is security. They system uses several different forms of security to protect the information that is handled. It uses SSL authentication, VPN tunneling, and WPA encryption, to protect the information and limit the access of outsiders. It also has an intrusion detecting service to help prevent any unauthorized outside access (Kumar & Venugopalan, 2017). The physical security of the servers is also addressed, because there are only four employees who have access to the cabinets that house the servers. Protecting the servers and the information within them are the IT groups main priority.
The second strength is functionality. The system was setup so that employees could access anything shared, such as documents, applications, and each other. This access is available despite the employees being in different locations or not at work at all.
The third strength is redundancy. The two sites have the same network configurations for support of each other during a crisis. Each is backed up daily, onsite and offsite to help maintain minimal data loss. They also have UPS to help during storms or any power interruptions (Winston, 2017).
The first weakness is the Internet Service Provider. The Internet access is only as strong as this one provider can provide. This will affect the ability to expand, because the use of the Internet will increase and the provider may not be able to handle the load from adding the additional sites. Also, using one provider may not offer a way to continue service during any kind of downtime.
The second weakness is space. The amount of space for the expansion within the infrastructure is not adequate. The infrastructure as it is currently setup will only accommodate the current amount of employees, adding any additional people may make the system run slow. The addition of the new offices to the current setup, won’t be enough for the expansion of the company, which would delay the expansion itself.
The third weakness is budget restraints. “The uncertainties underlying IT investment decisions and the inability of discounted cash flow (DCF) analyses to incorporate the impact of flexibility force executives to rely on gut instinct when finalizing IT investment decisions (Bardhan, Bagchi, & Sougstad, 2004)”. The addition of new locations will add to the amount of use to the current systems, which will lessen their performance, and could lead to data loss. With the need for additional equipment to handle the expansion, any budget restraints may delay the purchase of the equipment, which in turn could delay the expansion and lead to loss of new business.
The first opportunity is a technology upgrade. AEnergy is determined to make a substantial investment in technology upgrades, to determine if this is the route to take for the expansion. Utilizing the results of this research and development into a technology upgrade, may assist in making the other decisions for the expansion easier.
The second opportunity is entering a new market. AEnergy’s product is different, so the amount of competitors they have is minimal, which enables them to venture into new markets with ease. This helps the IT expansion, because they know their current setup is successful, all they have to do is duplicate it in the new offices. With the proper investments in new equipment and technology, entering the new markets should go off without any issues.
The last opportunity is network configuration. The current network configurations are mirror images of each other, are backed up daily and have had minimal data loss. The addition of new sites, enable the opportunity to look at different network configurations to see if mirroring the current setup will be adequate, or if the expansion will need another configuration for it to be successful.
The first threat is from outside sources. “Cyber breaches continue at an alarming pace with new vulnerability warnings an almost daily occurrence (Trautman & Ormerod, 2018)”. One of the most serious threats to any technology infrastructure comes from cyber attacks and hackers. These attacks could come from accessing the network systematically or by accessing the buildings physically. This expansion would make the infrastructure even more vulnerable, because adding to the network, would give more entry points for the attackers to use.
The second threat is software configuration. Software configuration becomes a vital threat, because depending on how it is configured, the attacker could use vulnerable spots within the software to attack the infrastructure.
The third threat is wireless configuration. The wireless configuration is another vital threat, because the attacker could use the Wi-Fi connection or Bluetooth capabilities to access the infrastructure. “Wireless devices and networks are vulnerable to additional security risks because of their presence in the mobile environment (Barnes & O’Farrell, 2002)”. These wireless access points could be used to access pertinent data and could cause an insurmountable amount of damage and revenue loss.
The last threat is from internal sources. This may be one of the most important threats to prepare for when looking to expand an organization. “As technology continues to evolve and become increasingly prevalent in the modern workplace, the insider presents a considerable threat to employers. In fact, employers increasingly face disgruntled employees who are all too eager to download their employers’ sensitive, confidential, and proprietary information before terminating the employment relationship (Reid, 2018)”. This expansion will lead to a need for new employees, who at any time could become a security threat unknowingly or knowingly to the company’s infrastructure. This also will lead to a loss of revenue for the company and increase the amount needed for technology, to protect against such issues.
One strength of infrastructure that can be used to improve existing service or product, would be the security. This possible because of the different layers of security present to access the data within the company. This will improve the existing service or product, because the new customers or clients would be at ease that their information will be protected from outside intruders. Security is taken very seriously by the It group, they make it a top priority to assure that the information contained within their , stays within their systems, and is only accessed by ones who are authorized to access it.
Another strength of the infrastructure that could improve the existing product or service is the redundancy of system. This is a way to improve the existing product or service, because with the daily backups being performed, there are less likely to be an interruption in the service. The redundancy of the system is so that if there is any interruption, the data is readily available to get the system back up and running with very little data loss. This will lead to better production and happier customers, since they know that the service will be restored within a sensible amount of time.
One opportunity that we may pursue with the existing IT infrastructure is increasing the company’s product line by introducing a new product. The company has dedicated funds for research and development, so introducing a new product before the expansion is complete, will help to meet the demands and needs of current and future customers.
Another opportunity that we may pursue with the existing IT infrastructure is to increase the company’s sales. An increase in sales, along with introducing a new product, will help increase the company’s revenues. An increase in revenues, will help alleviate some of the stress that the expansion has created.
The current IT infrastructure has several weaknesses and potential threats. That will need to be addressed before the expansion takes place. A major weakness is the internal threat of disgruntled employees. Employees are the biggest threat to the current infrastructure, because their access could open the system up to an attack from the outside. Also, they could download privileged information from the company’s system and sell it to the highest bidder, which would be detrimental to the success of the company.
The potential threat of an outside attack is also of concern with the current IT infrastructure. An attack from the outside could come from any source, and could cause damage to the company. An outside attack could use the wireless network, the wired network, or even physical access to attack the system. This is why the IT group takes security so serious.
Another issue is the company using one ISP, although the two separate buildings have their own account, adding two new buildings to the same ISP, may make the service provided unavailable to the four buildings. The use of one ISP may result in one of any of the offices being shutdown, due to the inability of the ISP to handle the load. Not having service could lead to a loss of revenue.
Although all of the weaknesses can be detrimental to the success of the company, the deficiency with the greatest impact is the external sources. The amount of possible damage that an external source can do, will be detrimental to all parts of the company, if they gain access to the system whether internally or externally. The ability for them to gain access, could cost the company a lot of money. Not just from the information they could get, but the amount that would have to be spent to boost up the system security and any parts of the infrastructure that would need to be replaced form possible damage. External sources have one goal in mind when they access other people’s systems and that’s to cause damage, that’s why they would have the greatest impact.
When thinking about researching technology, several ideas come to mind. We could search the Internet, we could check the latest tech magazines, or we could visit a store to check the items in person. Whichever we decide to do, we would need to know what we expect from the equipment we would purchase, how much it would be, how long it would take to arrive, and it we could install it ourselves or if we would need to hire installers. I personally like to go and see the equipment myself. This gives me a chance to see how it works, and it will meet my needs or not. I almost forgot about word of mouth, I bought equipment because my friend has suggested it, some turn out good, and some don’t. That’s the chance you take when looking to buy new things anyway.
A current technology that the company can use to help combat external sources, is by hiring “White Hat” hackers to test our system. “The purpose of these tests is to identify weak points in the system so that they can be sealed to prevent external attacks (Max, 2018).” These tests will be performed on a quarterly basis, this way we can mitigate any possible threats before they happen.
Another current technology that the company can use to help combat external sources, is by managing the networks. Hackers find loopholes in the company’s network, especially those that are poorly managed. Within our IT department, a unit should be assigned to monitor the computer network for the company, and check for any possible breaches. Another thing that this group will be responsible for is training all the employees, so that they are more conscious when handling company information.
Technology is an ever changing world, so finding the best way to stay on top of these changes, is just as important as picking the right technology. There are several ways for me to keep up to date, they include web media, print media, social media, training, and face-to-face encounters. Web media includes blogs, podcasts, and forums. Starting with a simple Google search, you can look for tech blogs, podcasts, or forums about the current technologies available for use.
Print media includes books and magazines. According to a Bing search, the Top 10 Tech Magazines are: Popular Science, CHIP, American Scientist, Science News, Computer Power User, Discover Magazine, Popular Mechanics, PC World, Wired, and Technology Review. In order to find top technology books, a trip to the local bookstore is a good place to start. Social media includes: Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media outlet.
Another way of staying informed is by attending training sessions. When it comes to training sessions, they can be handled in several different ways. There are on-site training, where the vendor sends someone out to hold the training class. Another form of training is web-based, where the training class is delivered over the Internet or a corporate intranet. The last way I can keep informed about technology is face-to-face. I could search for technical conferences or user groups that meet and talk technology. Whichever choice I make, staying up-to-date on technology is important to keep the IT department on top of new things.
Since we’re an energy company, utilizing emerging technology to gain a competitive edge is key to our future as a company. One emerging technology that can assists with this is known as “Na-TECC”. The goal of this technology is to take sodium and solar heat and convert to electricity. “This new process results in improved efficiency and less heat leaking out. The technology could be used for distributed energy applications (Becker, 2018)”. Since, we already offer unique methods of providing energy, this emerging technology would put us even further ahead of the competitors.
In order to keep with emerging technology to keep a competitive edge, we would need to look at future Power Plants. In order to make the plants more effective, we would use SCCO2 instead of steam to power the turbines and produce electricity. “Equipment could be made from top-notch materials, yet dramatically smaller, which would reduce production costs (Becker, 2018)”. Another advantage to using this technology, is that the plants can be placed anywhere, including the desert, because it doesn’t take as much to keep them cool. These emerging technologies will help us to keep our competitive edge by being prepared for the future.
In order for the company to stay competitive, the IT department must protect their information and keep it from falling into the wrong hands. My recommendation to help accomplish this is as follows: first, the software being used, has to be checked to make sure there are no vulnerable spots, next we must make sure the network is protected. This can be accomplished by using a Network firewall, Intrusion Detection System, Intrusion Prevention System, and Managed Security Services. The next step is protecting our endpoint devices. These include servers, databases, desktop computers, and mobile devices. These need to be protected just like the network, by using Firewalls, Intrusion Detection and Prevention, Content Filtering, and Anti-Malware. Protecting the company’s information is vital to our success, so we have to assure that we take every measure to protect it.
The nest step to protecting the company’s information is putting strong security management practices into use. These include Vulnerability Management, Patch Management, and Penetration Testing, these can help the IT department check for the possible attempts of gaining access to the system from the outside. The next step in the process is the provide a safe way for authorized users to access the data they need from anywhere. These include Encryption, use of Virtual Private Network, and Data Loss Prevention, which provide the company’s users with safe ways to access the network. The last step of this process is to manage security and make its effectiveness as strong as possible. This is made possible by utilizing the following: Log Management, Security Incident and Event Management, and Training. If we as an IT department utilize this process, we can prevent the access of all outside sources, other than those who are authorized.
To justify this recommendation, I researched the amount of revenue lost each year by different forms of cyber attacks. According to U.S. News, hackers cost companies between $375 and $575 billion annually. “”We don’t catch most cybercriminals and we don’t catch the most successful ones,” said James Lewis, a CSIS senior fellow()”. This lost money prevented the companies from creating 200,000 jobs. If this doesn’t justify us using this solution, I don’t know what will. We hold a competitive advantage over our competitors already, but if they were able to get their hands on how we make some of our products, then there goes the advantage.
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