Ask an Expert: Eric Munson
This blog is part of a series where some of our most experienced technical and support team members share their IT experiences and the tips and tricks learned from working with hundreds of organizations and IT teams. This blog post features Eric Munson, one of Logically’s Senior System Engineers based in San Diego. Eric has decades of experience in IT, and works closely with our operations, sales and marketing teams to help clients achieve their business goals through leveraging technology.
Q: What are your key job responsibilities?
A: I’m a bit of a jack of all trades. I provide engineering and architecture design for client’s internal networks. Everything from workstation deployments, to virtualization and networking, to full-scale migrations to cloud-based solutions. I work directly with sales and customer success managers to prepare client quotes, statements of work, and ensure customer satisfaction with services. For some of our larger clients, I serve as their virtual IT director to advise them on the best technical solutions for their business needs. I also provide tier 3 support for our managed services engineers and help desk, and assist with support for network equipment including routers, proxy servers, switches, firewalls, and load balancers. I get to solve some of the toughest challenges our customer’s face across nearly every aspect of their technology stack.
Q: What is a common mistake you see organizations make with their IT?
A: Right-sizing their IT budget in order to ensure their data and systems are protected, and IT is best serving the needs of the business. Many financial decision-makers don’t fully understand the security risks of under-investment in IT. It’s not their fault – it’s hard to create a proper IT budget when you aren’t involved in the planning and implementation of technology at your business and don’t fully understand the trade-offs. In many cases, the IT budget is either too slim or the investment isn’t allocated to the right resources. This is especially true when it comes to cybersecurity. In my experience, I’d say 75% of companies are operating on out-of-warranty legacy hardware or software. Many decision-makers follow the philosophy “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. But what they don’t realize is that the old hardware they’re using could cause devastating damage to their organization. In 2018, I was working with an organization that was still using Windows Server 2000. That software went end of life (EOL) back in 2010, meaning that Microsoft stopped sending software updates and security patches. Any hacker could’ve easily gone into that system with some ransomware and encrypted all their files. The money they were reluctant to spend to upgrade their server at the right time would’ve been just a drop in the bucket compared to recovering from a ransomware attack. In my role, I work with customers to develop technical solutions that fit their business needs, while aligning with the best financial plan to keep their company operational and secure.
Q: How do you keep up with the latest IT developments?
A: I’m very fortunate that my job is also a passion of mine, because I’m often up late at night trying to do some research and reading on the latest technological advances. If there’s a new update, or even an acronym I’m not familiar with, that becomes some of my search topics on Google when I get home. I also utilize Microsoft TechNet, Reddit, and Udemy to read blogs and participate in online training. Being in IT, and specifically the MSP industry, requires a lot of self-motivation. It’s extremely important to be driven, as well as practice good time management. Technology never rests, so neither can our team.
Q: How has technology changed over the last 10 years?
A: I think the biggest change in the tech industry is not so much a particular technology, but the rate at which new technologies are emerging. If you go back 10 years, IT complexity was just beginning to increase. Some would argue the cloud was in its infancy. You’d be using software or hardware for 2 or 3 years, then something new would come out. It’s a totally different situation today. Now, stuff is changing as fast as 6 months at a time. Along with that, you need to learn a lot more in a shorter amount of time, especially when it comes to security. 10 years ago, we were mainly worried about who was coming in through the front door, but now we have to worry about who’s coming in through your firewall and cloud. It’s a growing area that every company needs to focus on.
Q: If an organization could only pick one area to improve on, what would you recommend?
A: Security. Security is the most important thing to focus on in today’s age. That ties in with email platforms. Email has become one of the higher-end vulnerability points, with spoofed emails and accounts being hacked. I believe it’s essential for companies to invest in end-user training. Invest in your staff to train them on things like phishing attempts and help them understand the damage that can be done when you open those bad links. As a Managed IT Service Provider, we can do everything we can to keep those emails from coming in, but we can’t control the actions of end-users. It’s especially important with the rise in teleworkers. Your workers need to know how to protect their own devices, especially if they’re not working in a dedicated office space. They need to be aware why pubic WiFi is not secure and the risks associated with using credentials on a device that’s not registered with your company. It takes the entire village to understand the security implications of their actions, and to know what to watch out for. You can stop half – if not more – of your issues with good end-user training, which is why I push our clients to do it.