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Using IT Process Automation as Your Emergency Shutdown Button

EPO for ITAs we start to get deeper into the colder months, the inevitability of snow and ice storms is fast approaching, which brings along the risk of an emergency shutdown for businesses. Here’s how IT process automation can help you.

Is your data center prepared to handle such an emergency? Should the power go out, what plan do you have in place to conserve energy and save precious battery power? The best thing you can do is be proactive and prepare ahead of time, and IT process automation can help you do just that.

You may have heard the term “EPO”, short for emergency power off button. This is essentially the “big red button” that is in place to shut down all operations within the data center in the event of an emergency or disaster.

The problem with this concept is its all or nothing approach. When activated, the EPO button basically shuts everything down in an instant. If this happens in error, or worse – as an act of deliberate sabotage, the impact could be catastrophic for the business.

What if, instead of setting your system up for complete shutdown in emergency situations, you were able to automate a sequence of processes that would shut down specific servers according to internal policies and priorities when power is limited? That way, those systems that are most critical to the business can continue to operate as needed, while other, less critical functions are shutdown to preserve battery or generator usage.

Watch this video to learn how to implement shutdown process:

With IT process automation, you can plan ahead for a potential disaster by determining exactly which systems should remain up and running, which ones can be turned off, and in what order.

When activated, the workflow will be initiated automatically, allowing those managing the situation to focus on other important matters, like getting things back up and running again as quickly as possible. This process is especially helpful in preventing file corruption or loss of data.

IT process automation can be used to handle an emergency server shutdown from start to finish. A workflow would be created ahead of time that would include a series of pre-programmed steps ordering which systems to be shut down, and in what order. Once established and in place, the automated workflow would simply need to be initiated by the user in charge of handling emergency situations. Once activated, the system shutdown would begin and would continue on until the situation has been resolved. Then, it’s simply a matter of reactivating all systems to full capacity again.

This helps to better manage a power outage, as well as reduce the risks associated with having a traditional EPO, since only those systems deemed to be less important would shut down if the workflow is triggered accidentally or deliberately. The most critical systems will remain up and running, greatly mitigating the potential damages of a total shutdown.

With winter right around the corner, do you have a plan in place for an emergency situation? Don’t leave it up to chance. Protect your data center and its most critical functions by leveraging IT process automation as your emergency shutdown plan.  





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




Answering the “What Could Go Wrong” Question for IT Process Automation

Answering the “What Could Go Wrong” Question for IT Process AutomationOne of the biggest hurdles of convincing businesses that IT process automation is the way of the future is the age-old question, “what if….” Many IT professionals and other key decision makers within an organization carry the fear that automated tasks that are put in place to solve a problem may actually end up causing more harm than good. What could go wrong? What if the whole thing blows up in our faces and we end up with an even bigger mess on our hands? The answer is simple: when automation is designed and tested properly, everything should work just as planned.

Creating and Designing Your Workflow

The first step in setting up IT process automation so that it works properly is creating and designing your workflows. You have to have your end result in mind, and then figure out the steps necessary to achieve that end result. Various criteria will need to be identified, so that you know whenever a certain function or task occurs, the next step in the workflow will automatically be triggered. So, to summarize, establish your desired end result, and then develop a list of steps to help you achieve that result. List each criterion in the process and determine what next step each criterion would trigger.

Testing 123…

The next important step, once you’ve created your workflow, is to try it out in a controlled environment. Test each step in the process to verify that the desired result for each is achieved. If something isn’t working properly, re-evaluate to determine why and then work to fix that piece until the entire process is functioning correctly. We recommend testing a variety of situations and scenarios to really be sure everything is working properly. Continue this process until you are confident that your automated workflow is working precisely as it should.

Implement

Once you’ve tested your automated workflow enough to be confident that it’s functioning as it is meant to function, it’s time to put it into action. It can be a bit nerve wracking to implement a workflow for the first time live, but once you see it in action, you’ll become that much more confident that IT process automation will be there to meet your needs whenever necessary.

Call on the Experts

If, at any time during the above outlined process, you feel as though you’re not getting the results you’re looking for, or you need some guidance and support, don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts. Remember, part of choosing the right IT process automation product is choosing a company that offers plenty of training and support to its customers. Any company will be there for you when you’re in the process of making a purchasing decision, but you want to make sure that you choose someone that will also be there for you after the fact. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or just have a few questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to your software vendor for assistance.

The hands off nature of IT process automation can make some professionals feel uneasy. They may wonder if the very system that’s being put in place to solve a particular problem within the organization will actually end up causing more harm than good. The truth is when you know the steps to take, and you’re careful to work through each step just as you should, the result will be exactly what you’re hoping for. When IT process automation is created, developed, tested and supported properly, there is no longer the need to ask “what if”, but rather “why did I wait so long to do this?”

What are YOU waiting for? Try IT process automation today!





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Vacation Time! A Checklist of IT Personnel Must-Do’s Before Taking Time Off

Vacation Time! A Checklist of IT Personnel Must-Do’s Before Taking Time OffYou’ve worked hard all year, putting in endless hours and a tireless effort to keep your company’s IT operations running efficiently. It’s time to take some much-needed time off – you deserve it! But before you tidy up your desk, set your “out of office” message and shut your (own) system down for a week (or two), here’s a checklist of must-do tasks to ensure that while you’re gone, the business will still run as smoothly as can be and you won’t have to worry about getting frantic calls while you’re trying to relax on the beach.

Prepare Ahead

A few weeks prior to your vacation, make a detailed list of the top IT tasks you perform on regular basis. Then, use this list to create automated workflows for these tasks. Instead of having to train other staff members and risk the chance of something going wrong or slipping through the cracks, these workflows will do your job for you while you’re gone!

Bring Your Team Up to Speed

Take some time to show your staff what you have accomplished, what workflows you’ve created and what these workflows will do in your absence. That way, while you are gone your team will be able to tackle more tasks without having to call you every time an alert goes off.

Program Alerts

Program your system properly so that if something goes wrong, the alerts that are not related to you go to the right people. If possible, entrust one team member to step in and handle any specific alerts that would normally be handled by you. This way you can enjoy your time off without interruption.

Be Proactive

Prepare automated workflows for worst case scenario (i.e., a mission-critical service failure), and prepare an automated remediation process for that, so if and when an issue occurs, there will be a plan in place to automatically resolve it. When you come back to work, no one will know you even went on vacation!

Relax and Have Fun!

The life of an IT professional is hectic and stressful by nature. Nobody earns time off like us! So, once you’ve done all of the above, it’s time to relax. Grab a good book, pack your bags, sip on a cocktail and have some fun! When you have the right plan in place, you won’t have to worry about what’s going on back at the office and you can enjoy your well-deserved time off.

Dreading your next vacation and the mess you’ll have to come back to?

IT Process Automation can help you manage your IT operations so efficiently that the department will practically run itself when you’re away.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




Why email alerts from monitoring tools no longer cut it

TWO-WAY-SMSRelying on email alerts for critical for notification and escalation can be risky. SMS is a much more effective tool for IT Managers.

As an IT Manager, you probably get hundreds of emails a day, not to mention those from your monitoring systems, which “flood” your mailbox all day, every day. With so many incoming communications, it can be challenging and time consuming to distinguish between what is and isn’t important. This creates the inevitable risk that the moment a real problem arises, you might very well miss it. For most organizations, this is simply not acceptable, but it’s par for the course with email notifications. So, what’s the solution? Simple: it’s time to consider changing the way you receive your alerts.

There is a great way of getting those important high priority alerts to your mobile, which both hastens the alert and escalation process, and allows you more flexibility to manage your busy day to day duties. Instead of relying on email, which can hinder your mobility throughout the day, you can instead receive SMS text messages directly to your mobile device. Doing so is simple and fast – you can be up and running in just moments!

When you connect your monitoring systems to SMS, you can effectively streamline your entire communication process, including:

  1. Setting up your alerting/monitoring system to send notification via SMS
  2. Escalating important alerts via SMS to business users and managers
  3. Using two-way SMS notification for receiving acknowledgements and allowing quick response
  4. Preparing pre-configured processes that will allow you to remediate incidents just by replying via your mobile device

As an example, the eyeShare IT Process Automation tool can easily be integrated with Solarwinds Orion to provide closed-loop network management and process automation at one single point. This allows you to automatically remediate network problems using remote execution tasks. Workflows can be triggered by alerts, and, upon successful process execution, events are sent back to close the loop and update the status.

With this advanced integration, you can:

  • Automate all of your alert notifications and escalations to be sent via email, SMS and phone calls (all three, if desired)
  • Open, update, and close tickets in service desk tools via automated workflow
  • Reduce resolution time of network and system alerts
  • Empower Level 1 and Level 2 operators to resolve more incidents, quickly and remotely

With technology changing and improving almost daily, it’s no surprise that some of the things we once relied so heavily on over the past several years are beginning to be replaced by newer, more efficient and effective tools. While email is still widely used, it can be a dangerous game of hide and seek when it comes to managing critical notices, particularly for IT Managers and NOC Managers. Two-way SMS messaging provides a much more efficient and timely way to receive important notifications and escalations. The time for change is now, and for many busy IT professionals, the way to go is SMS.





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




IDC Predicts More User-Focused IT Process Automation in 2015

IDC Predicts More User-Focused IT Process Automation in 2015In December 2014, the International Data Corporation (IDC) hosted the IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Cloud 2015 Predictions. During the web conference, a number of bold predictions were made based on a new IDC FutureScape report surrounding the state of technology, expected changes over the next year and how business leaders can make the most of what is to come for their own growth and future success. Among those predictions, a clear picture of the increased role of automation emerged. More specifically, the report revealed the expectation that IT process automation will continue to become more user-focused.

Of the many mentions of IT process automation’s role in the not-so-distant future, one particular statistic stood out amongst the rest:

“By 2017, 25% of IT organizations will formally support a ‘consumer tier’ to allow workers to develop their own personal automation.”

What this essentially refers to is the fact that not only is automation expected to become much more accessible, but it’s also going to develop to become much more customizable. Rather than just an overarching automation plan that is handled exclusively by IT higher ups, automation will slowly become part of the everyday workplace experience for employees across departments and skill levels.

According to the IDC study, more IT organizations are going to provide end-user self service automation. Employees will no longer need to be dependent on others to solve their own problems and perform their own necessary tasks, such as password resets, unlocking user accounts and system restarts. Instead of having to contact the help desk and wait for assistance, the automation tool will allow the end-user to handle all the necessary steps on his or her own. This will improve productivity and efficiency across the board.

IT departments need not worry about relinquishing control, either. A pre-defined list of standard options can be developed, which will then be presented to the end-user via an intuitive web portal. Only those tasks available on the list can be “ordered” so there’s no risk of user error. Each available option will have a built-in automated workflow that will be carried out accordingly upon selection. There are no delays to the end-user and, more importantly, IT administrators will still be able to maintain control over each service, with full visibility and tracking.

These enhancements to automation will naturally coincide with big data and other tech trends, such as wearables in the workplace and the Internet of Things (IoT). With more and more businesses shifting toward a “bring your own device” (BYOD) environment, it’s only logical to conclude that there will also be a more widespread use of automation. As the months pass, not only will IT personnel be leveraging automation tools to streamline their day to day workloads, but the end-user will also be taking a more active role, with automation at the forefront.

Excited to see what the future holds for IT process automation?

IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Active Directory Password Reset – Empower Your Help Desk With IT Process Automation

IT folks know better than anyone else the overhead involved in Active Directory password reset. It’s really a non-issue if you’re dealing with 10-50 users; but quite different with hundreds or thousands of users on your network.

In many cases, it’s the help desk that receives the open ticket request. Yet it’s an IT person who needs to resolve the issue – at the expense of other, more urgent tasks.

Here’s one method to automate this daily, repetitive task. It uses an eyeShare pre-packaged password reset automated workflow. You can use the process as is, or tailor it to your needs.

Here’s one way you can automate these procedures easily and in a very elegant way:

Active Directory Password Reset workflow via SMS:

  1. The user sends a text message (SMS) to eyeShare with pre-defined text that includes their ID.
  2. eyeShare receives the request and initiates an automated workflow.
  3. The workflow authenticates the user based on their incoming mobile number and ID sent.
  4. If authenticated, eyeShare will generate a temporary password and reset the account with it, then update the AD settings so the user will have to change their password upon next login.
  5. Finally, the new temporary password will be sent to the end-user’s mobile device.

This process can be easily customized according to your needs. For example by, including notification for the system administrators, opening tickets automatically in your service desk system (i.e. ServiceNow, JIRA, SCOM), etc. Just drag and drop the desired activities to create your own custom workflow, using eyeShare visual workflow designer.

Use Ayehu eyeShare’s Integration for Active Directory, it comes with pre-packaged templates such as Active Directory Password Reset template in order to provide your end-users a way to reset their passwords with their mobile device. Of course, you can customize this procedure according to your needs and requirements.


5 Ways to level up your service desk using it process automation




How to implement file automation (without scripting)

Let’s face it. Many business processes depend on the successful manipulation of files and get stuck or fail if something goes wrong with even a single file along the way.

Now, while most ‘file automation’ programs help you with simple file manipulations (moving files, deleting files, etc.), a business environment usually requires more sophistication. Here’s a real life example.

One of our clients in the insurance industry has a business process where it received zip files via ftp from insurance agents. Zip files contain incident data (photos of damaged cars etc.) which needs to be extracted and moved to different back end system.

The file automation problem begins when a zip file is corrupted and cannot be opened – something which causes the entire business process to get stuck and fail. Since the backend legacy system was lacking a log file, even identifying the event was not that obvious.

Our customer used eyeShare, our IT process automation tool to resolve this issue. eyeShare validates the time stamp on zip files. If the time stamp is over 2 hours (indicates the file could not be opened), it triggers an automated workflow in eyeShare, which sends notification via text message, and performs several corrective activities.
Why didn’t the customer use scripting? Two reasons. First, time saving — the ability to implement the required logic without writing a line of code, simply by dragging pre-build logic activities. The second reason is complexity — the need to automate several corrective activities (including alerts and notifications), plus handling legacy systems, which would require complex script writing and integration capabilities.

So if we try to generalize, what’s needed many times is a combination of two capabilities: a sophisticated watchdog that can monitor and respond to a wide range of file events; and high-level process automation ‘skills’ in order to perform any number of activities across different systems when certain conditions are met. So for example, you’d want a mix and match capabilities such as the table below:

Monitor:
Trigger an automated workflow
Existence/total number of filesSend an alert to a human being to inform about status (SMS, mail, voice message)
File sizePerform file operations (delete, move, etc.)
File extensionTerminate a task or start a process/server
TimestampExtract data , parse,
File data (read log file)Perform corrective maintenance

Here’s how the process actually looks like:





IT Process Automation Survival Guide