In a world of complex, interlinked IT platforms and technological advancements, there is one aspect of a business’ IT support infrastructure that must not be overlooked: Application Support and Maintenance (ASM).
What Is Application Support & Maintenance?
Application Support and Maintenance is what your website needs to stay ahead of the curve, providing the ongoing maintenance required to keep your site secure, up-to-date and free of errors. When unforeseen circumstances arise and your website “trips and falls” at a critical time, ASM provides the on-standby support services required to get your website back up on a priority basis.
Websites and web-based applications are growing in complexity, and with it, so is their need for ASM. Routine maintenance, feature requests and 24/7 support services help businesses to protect and enhance their applications, offering insurance against times of crisis, as well as a path towards incremental improvements. In short, ASM provides increased security, enhanced performance and is an overall cost-saver for your business.
2015 saw cyber criminals use more sophisticated methods – from holding sensitive data to ransom in return for a one-off payment, to taking websites offline altogether. From British Gas to British Airways, TalkTalk to HSBC, no sector was left untouched with as many as nine in ten large businesses suffering a security breach.
There is a plethora of security reports listing examples of cyber attacks that take place on unmaintained systems – systems that were simply switched on and left alone. Unmaintained websites are easy targets for cyber attacks. Even if your data is easily replaced, attackers are more than happy to exploit your website’s resources for their own purposes. The Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) details site is currently tracking 143 Drupal vulnerabilities and 205 WordPress vulnerabilities – not including vulnerabilities from third party plug-ins.
While they may be growing, these targeted attacks have brought a greater awareness of cyber crimes. Businesses that are invested in ASM are now able to better control their level of digital vulnerability by monitoring, modifying and managing their existing systems.
As well as protecting your site against existing and emerging threats, ASM will keep your website looking its best on all the latest devices and keep the internal code running problem-free.
In today’s competitive market, visitors to your site won’t hesitate in abandoning a site when faced with slow page loads. A hacked site will show up with warnings in Google search results such as “this site is not safe,’’ or ‘‘do you trust this site.’’ These warning flags turn visitors away before they reach your site and can negatively affect your sales through reduced traffic and loss of trust. That said, a cyber-attack is not the only way for a website or app to crash – even a busy shopping period can threaten your online presence and cause an unmaintained website to crash with a high influx of users.
Handling web traffic is one area that brands have had to become smarter about. Sizing infrastructure to manage different traffic patterns is an exercise best managed over time and not left to the last minute. With regular maintenance, site errors can be corrected early, performance bottlenecks identified and infrastructure improvements scheduled for low traffic periods. In addition, clients with support arrangements in place benefit from on-call support staff ready to respond the moment an alert is raised, managing traffic spikes before they get out of hand.
ASM works best when you’re invested in the idea of maintenance and support as an ongoing process. Businesses will typically invest a large amount of time and effort in getting a new site up and running. They may carry out A/B testing to experiment with different functionalities, as well as running a number of security scans. However, once this initial set-up has been completed, a site can sit neglected for weeks or even months. while new vulnerabilities emerge and updated versions of the codebase are released.
Many businesses can no longer simply wait for something to go wrong and then approach their third party ASM maintenance team. Fixing an unmaintained site can be an expensive and time consuming process as it’s crucial that all components of your website work together in harmony.
Maintenance tasks can vary from routine CMS plugins to more advanced check-ups that leverage emerging technologies such as docker containerisation. Whatever the issue, maintenance cannot be viewed as a “nice-to-have” exercise, but as a vital component of your ongoing strategy.
A Tailored Approach
It’s important to remember there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. The best type of support is tailored to each individual business, but depending on the size and skillset of your team, you may only have the time or ability to fix a specific function or work on a dedicated project.
Many businesses choose to work around their lack of ASM-skilled resources by working with a third-party provider for their ASM requirements. You may also choose to work with a dedicated ASM company to free up more of your internal team, allowing them to focus on other tasks.
As websites and web-based applications grow in complexity, ASM is a vital component in helping to keep everything running smoothly. Routine maintenance, feature requests and 24/7 support services help businesses to protect and enhance their applications, offering insurance against crisis, as well as a path towards incremental improvements. Whether it’s a creative project, a corporate infrastructure build, or a temporary microsite, it’s never too early or too late to start maintaining and supporting your website.