With everything that 2021 threw at us, those working in the IT security consulting world have been kept on their toes. Just in case you need reminding of the sheer volume of crises that kept them on their toes, here is a mini-trip down memory lane:
- While 2021 introduced a COVID vaccine, it also brought the Delta and Omicron variants
- Growing civil unrest, not just in the United States, but globally – the Global Peace Index recently reported that global peace has deteriorated for the ninth year in a row, at a rate of 0.07% in 2021
- It was, yet another year of record-breaking climate disasters, with a new record high of 18 $1 billion+ disasters having taken place in 2021 (including droughts, cyclones, wildfires and flooding).
Keeping IT security consulting companies on their toes for sure.
As we look ahead with fingers crossed for a less chaotic 2022, we sat down with someone who has been kept on his toes this past year, AGJ Systems & Networks President, Brian Alford. In addition to serving as president of AGJ Systems & Networks, the Gulf Coast’s leading IT management services provider, Alford is also on the board of directors for South Mississippi Contract Procurement Center. He has also held roles in the U.S. Air Force and project managements senior network engineer for the Hartford International Airport Y2K Project. Needless to say, he understands how to work well in high-pressure environments. And with AGJ’s 1000+ clients throughout the United States, Australia, and Europe, he’s felt the pressure during this past, crisis-filled year. Thankfully, he was willing to sit down and share some of his lessons learned and insights with us.
Q: What were some of the major issues that AGJ had to contend with in 2021?
A: Yikes, where to begin? Well, COVID obviously continued to deliver the lessons, primarily around continued increased cyber vulnerabilities that were brought on by the rapid transition to remote working that so many organizations experienced. We spent ample time this past year ensuring that these increased vulnerabilities were mitigated for our clients and in completing tech assessments for new clients looking to onboard with us.
Weather incidents were fairly impactful, yet again this year, so business continuity and disaster recovery planning was top of mind for many, and rightly so.
Staffing has been an ongoing concern for many organizations, in particular around retaining key in-house IT talent, resulting in increased demand for our amazing Managed IT Services solutions.
And then, as if that wasn’t enough, supply chain issues have hit the IT industry pretty hard, in particular around reliable and timely delivery of certain hardware and tech components.
Q: Yikes indeed! Okay, let’s look ahead to 2022. What are some predictions that you have about the state of cybersecurity next year?
A: Cybercriminals have been keeping us increasingly busy with each passing year, and this is showing no signs of slowing down. Their hacking attempts continue to get more and more sophisticated, and we need to stay as current as possible in order to stay a few steps ahead of them.
For a lot of our insights, we look to the Cybersecurity Capability Maturity Model (CMMC), which is the federal government’s cybersecurity certification that is required of any organization or contractor that is doing work with them. Their compliance requirements are incredibly thorough and robust so they are a great model for us to follow. At their latest conference, they spoke extensively to the future growth of cyberwarfare, and how artificial intelligence and quantum computing will continue to have major impacts on foreign relations.
Our IT security consulting team recently developed a cybersecurity playbook that we are looking forward to sharing with our clients.
Q: There seems to have been a heightened appreciation for the need for robust disaster recovery planning in recent years – would you agree?
A: Absolutely. This has always been tremendously high on our radar, being based on the Gulf Coast, which is incredibly vulnerable to natural disasters. Having said that, it’s actually not even these high- impact disasters that are responsible for most data loss; it actually tends to be more localized issues, like software issues, human error and hard drive crashes. Our disaster recovery services include continuous backup and standby server technology, ensuring minimum downtime and productivity loss in the event of a disaster - natural or otherwise. No two businesses are the same, AGJ will put together a recovery plan that fits the business’s needs.
Q: Speaking of disaster recovery, is moving to cloud-based computing something that you recommend?
A: I would love to say very much so, but again no two businesses are alike. If AGJ determines that a business needs to move to the cloud due to a dramatic increase in remote workers and/or the variety of business applications, cloud services could be more important than ever. The benefits just can’t be ignored – substantial cost savings, improved performance and speed, scalability … the list goes on and on. However, cloud migration is easier said than done, and not something that an organization should attempt without an expert analysis. There are several factors to consider, and we work with our clients through all these competing factors to identify the best and most customized cloud solution.
Q: This has been super insightful, thank you! In closing, can you tell us a bit more about IT security consulting with AGJ Systems & Networks?
A: Of course! I’d like to highlight a recent award we’ve received – we took the 51st spot in the 2021 Channel Futures MSP 501 ranking, which is the industry’s most prestigious ranking of managed services providers and technology providers. We also took the #12 spot in the South Central region and the top spot in Mississippi, which was a tremendous honor. Otherwise, a couple of key differentiators worth highlighting that set us apart from other managed services providers is our 100% satisfaction guarantee and our complete care plan, which guarantees a fast response time on all urgent needs (less than an hour).
Looking to start 2022 off on the right foot? Book your AGJ Systems & Networks IT assessment today.