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Bridging the Gap Between Security and IT Operations

Bridging the Gap Between Security and IT OperationsAll too often there is a serious disconnect between a company’s security and operations teams which, on the surface, may not seem like much to be concerned about. Unfortunately, a lack of synergy between these two critical groups could make the organization much more vulnerable to a cyber-attack. For instance, a breach is discovered by the security team but the ops team is slow to react or IT operations might be focused on correcting an application failure that, in reality, is a system hack. These two teams must find a way to work in unison. The good news is, incident response automation can help bridge this gap.

The underlying issue stems from the fact that, traditionally, IT operations and enterprise security were considered entirely separate functions. These silos unintentionally made it difficult if not impossible to quickly identify and respond to potential security threats. As IT departments have continued to grow and take on more responsibility, and with cyber incidents becoming more complex and relentless by the day, it’s become increasingly evident that collaboration between the two departments is absolutely necessary in order to ensure compliance and security of the organization.

Defining Roles & Responsibilities

The functions of each of these teams, at least from a traditional standpoint, are pretty straightforward and logical. Enterprise security is tasked with defining, documenting and implementing the strategies for identifying and remediating potential threats to the network and the operations team is responsible for executing these strategies. Seems pretty simple, doesn’t it? In reality, it’s much more convoluted and significantly more challenging. Some of the issues with this setup include:

  • Tasks are being performed manually or using individual, siloed tools. The result is a slower process that’s wrought with error.
  • Lack of integration amongst systems results in security and IT operations failing to share and manage data interdepartmentally, further isolating the functions of each team.
  • Security scanning tools that are audit-only and lack integrated remediation functionality (closed loop compliance). This approach can cause significant delays at critical moments.
Closing the Gap

In order to close the existing gap between security and IT operations within your organization, a fundamental shift in thinking must first take place, particularly around how the firm can and should handle risk and governance as well as achieve compliance. Furthermore, there must be a clear and complete understanding of what the goals are for each group. Ultimately, both teams want the best for the organization. Aligning the goals and tying them into each other can help them achieve this together.

To further address these challenges and create a more cohesive SecOps environment, technology that is designed to link and integrate systems can help significantly. Specifically, incident response automation that eliminates the time-consuming and error-prone manual tasks and provides visibility across both departments will not only help align the two groups together, but it can also dramatically improve the overall process of incident response, remediation and compliance. Employing such an intelligent solution can also lower costs, reduce risk and facilitate more effective collaboration between security and IT operations. As a result, the organization will maintain a much stronger, more fortified defense against potential attacks.

Are you struggling with fragmented systems and siloed teams? Is your enterprise secure enough to withstand the inevitable onslaught of cyber-attacks that are sure to come? Download a free 30 day trial of eyeShare today and start taking the steps to overcome this disconnect and create a more cohesive, collaborative and protected organization.





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




3 Key Business Processes that Can Benefit from Workload Automation

3 Key Business Processes that Can Benefit from Workload AutomationJust a few decades ago, manual scripting and old-school batch processing were sufficient for most businesses. Given the always-on, 24/7 digital nature of business today, however, this is no longer enough to keep organizations secure, efficient and competitive. Workload automation is the ideal solution for helping companies run at maximum productivity while also saving time and money. If you’re considering adopting this tool for your business, here are 3 processes that might be a good place to start.

FTPs and Batch Processes

The exchange of information via electronic file transfer is commonplace in almost all businesses today, as is batch data processing. Managing each of these key areas individually is expensive and time-consuming. It also leaves the business vulnerable to risks associated with delays in file transfers or batch process failures.

Yet, many businesses that have adopted automation are still struggling, because they’re attempting to automate each piece separately. That’s because this creates silos and makes it incredibly difficult to manage complex workflows that span multiple applications, databases and FTP operations. The result is a fragmented approach that is both a waste of time and prone to error.

The solution is adopting workload automation that is comprehensive enough to incorporate FTP operation management within the job scheduling function. This provides enhanced visibility and greater control over both FTP and batch processes. With this more architectural approach, if and when a problem occurs, the job scheduler can securely send FTPs and restart automatically from the precise point of failure while also notifying IT operations of the issue.

Data Warehousing & Business Intelligence

These days, real-time data, business intelligence and reporting are essential to an organization’s ongoing success. Furthermore, how this information is gathered, organized and delivered is absolutely critical. Automating the data warehousing process is becoming not just an added benefit, but a necessity.

While there are many different tools that currently exist for this purpose, most have limitations. For instance, many of the popular data warehousing and BI solutions on the market today are platform-specific and are limited in terms of functionality. As a result, in order to effectively pass data across the various systems, IT operations must rely on time-consuming and error-prone scripting.

As a resolution to these serious issues, workload automation can provide the ability to integrate and manage complex workflows that span multiple data warehousing environments. The result is a much greater quality of data and enhanced reporting capability. Scripts and scheduling tools that are platform-specific can then be unified into a single workload automation framework which offers a higher degree of control and allows businesses to meet the increasing demands being placed on them.

Managing Dependencies & Data Sharing

There are a wide variety of applications and platforms that make up a core business infrastructure. This may include anything from CRM and project management systems to ERP, work order management software and supply chain management. Furthermore, the multitude of systems, software and applications are often made up of a mish-mash of well-known suppliers, such as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle.

In order to operate successfully and at maximum efficiency and output, organizations must find a way to seamlessly integrate all of these systems to effectively schedule and manage batch processing. Adopting an architectural approach through workload automation can help achieve this objective, ensuring that business applications are updated in a timely manner and speeding time to resolution in the event of a problem.

Of course, these are just three of the many areas a business can benefit from the adoption and implementation of workload automation.

Are you leveraging this powerful workload automation tool for your own IT operations? Don’t wait! Start automating today. Download your free 30 day trial to get started.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




Why Automation is a Must for IT Operations

Why Automation is a Must for IT OperationsIT process automation is certainly nothing new. In fact, it’s been somewhat of a buzzword for the past 5-10 years or so, maybe longer. Yet, despite the widespread acknowledgement that automation is virtually revolutionizing the business world, there are still some organizations that have not yet adopted the powerful tool. If you happen to fall into this category, we’d like to share some compelling reasons why your IT operations should start automating today.

Two things IT professionals are dealing with on a day to day basis are the demands on them to offer more support on fewer resources and the increasing complexity of the technologies around them. Each of these challenges causes talented personnel to struggle. Simply put, humans are beginning to fall behind. As a result, costly mistakes are made, customer satisfaction (both internal and external) is dropping and the competitive landscape is becoming even fiercer.

Automation is specifically designed to help alleviate much of the pressure that IT operations groups are currently experiencing. First, routine tasks, like password resets and system restarts, can be shifted from workers to machines. These tasks are then completed faster and are virtually error-free. Meanwhile, personnel are freed up to focus on other business-critical activities, like further developing their skills and handling higher-level items that cannot be automated.

A more efficient and productive workforce translates to smoother IT operations all around. It also means a much greater output of work and enhanced services since technology is now doing all the heavy lifting. Naturally, this leads to a higher level of customer satisfaction, regardless of whether those customers happen to be internal workers in other departments or external clientele who depend on the organization.

Another important benefit of automation is that it helps to make IT operations more responsive to change. There’s no question that we’re living in an ever-evolving world where technology is advancing quicker than we even realize. The ability to scale and adapt is absolutely critical, particularly in IT. A slow evolution simply won’t cut it, especially in a field that is so hyper-competitive. Automation allows for agility, which is essential to an organization’s ongoing success.

As the demands on IT operations continue to grow and become more complex, there will be an even greater need for automation. Only those organizations that are forward thinking enough to adopt these innovative technological tools will remain competitive and continue to achieve their business objectives. Where will your company stand? Will you come out on top or get left behind? Start automating today and position your firm as a front-runner of the future.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




IT Operations – Staying Competitive in the Age of IT Process Automation

IT Operations - Staying Competitive in the Age of IT Process AutomationIt’s no secret that IT Process Automation  (ITPA) has begun to find its way into just about every industry – particularly that of IT operations. Yet, whether you embrace it or not, it’s important to remember that while automation is something that can most certainly improve operational efficiency, it’s not necessarily something that you can simply set and forget. There’s still a very human element to automation that must be considered, and it’s this human piece of the puzzle that will help businesses remain competitive in an increasingly tech-savvy world.

The ultimate goal of every IT professional is to produce real, measurable and efficient results for their organization. As technology shifts and evolves, IT department personnel is being expected to do more with fewer resources, all while taking into account cost. IT process automation provides the solution to these increasing demands by assisting in three key areas:

Repetitive, Manual Tasks

When someone is forced to perform the same simple, repetitive task over and over to achieve consistent results, there is little time to do much else. IT Automation relieves IT professionals from these redundancies, freeing them up to focus on improving their skillsets and managing those functions that require a higher level of human intervention.

Compliance and Security

Audits can become a tremendous waste of time and resources for IT personnel. So can managing data security. The right IT process automation tool, however, can provide an added level of protection to sensitive data and create easy to track documentation, making it a breeze to meet compliance requirements.

Human Error

In the event of a system outage, every moment – and every action – counts. Even the most seasoned professional can make a costly error when dealing with the stress and pressure of managing critical incidents. Incorporating automation helps to reduce the risk of human error, improving the chances of a smooth and timely system recovery process.

Of course,IT process automation isn’t something that will magically solve every IT challenge. While these three key benefits are pretty much universal, it must begin with a well-developed automation strategy that is designed to address the unique needs of the organization. Furthermore, automation can be integrated with other programs, such as VMware and PowerShell, to further enhance their benefits.

The goal is to develop and implement an automation plan that will achieve cross-platform results and one which is scalable to grow and evolve with the changing needs of the business. This requires the expertise of IT professionals who are willing to view automation not as an adversary, but as a means to further their careers and make their organizations more successful. Only those who approach automation from this perspective will be able to remain competitive and relevant over time.

Want to learn more about IT process automation and how it can help you stay relevant in the changing world of IT? Start your free 30 day trial today!





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




IT Process Automation – Changing the Future of IT Operations

IT Process Automation - Changing the Future of IT OperationsThere is, perhaps, no industry that faces more challenges than that of IT. Between mastering new and evolving technologies, meeting increased demand and dealing with a slim selection of highly qualified individuals, being successful in the IT field is no simple feat. IT process automation is something that can help change this climate, making for a much brighter future for IT Operations. Here’s how.

Without IT Process Automation, IT departments face the following dilemmas:
  • Decreased efficiency
  • Increased risk of human error
  • Lack of ability/time/resources to innovate

IT process automation is essential to meet the changing and increasing demands on IT professionals. In an ever-evolving environment where new technologies and strategies are constantly being introduced, IT personnel are being expected to provide more and more value with fewer resources. By leveraging the power of IT process automation, everything from simple, routine tasks to complex workflows can be automated so that the entire network infrastructure runs more smoothly. This also frees up team members to focus on other important issues that automation cannot assist with.

For those that worry about safety and the inherent risk that comes along with allowing technology to intervene so heavily, an intelligent IT process automation tool can provide the perfect balance by specifying human decision points. The workflow executes accordingly, stopping only at specified intervals at which point the appropriate personnel will be notified that input is required. Once that point is satisfied, the workflow can then continue automatically.

What about human error? Like it or not, when people are at the helm, there will always be an increased risk of mistakes. Many instances of system problems can be traced back to human error. The key is how these problems are responded to. Traditional IT operations is responsive by nature. When an error occurs, IT receives notification and takes the appropriate actions to resolve the issue as quickly and efficiently as possible. IT process automation, on the other hand, is proactive, giving IT personnel the opportunity to correct potential problems before they even occur. This vastly improves system availability and other key factors.

Finally there is the topic of IT innovation. Historically, IT departments were there for one thing and one thing only: to ensure that system operations ran as smoothly as possible across the organization. With so many manual and repetitive daily tasks, there was little time to focus on anything else, least of which would be finding ways to improve and innovate for the better of the firm. IT process automation, however, has opened the doors of virtually endless possibilities for IT professionals. Not only do they now have the time to focus on developing strategies to improve how their organization is run, but they are also free to improve on their own skills and ability, making them much more valuable overall.

So, what type of automation will produce all of these results? Simply saying “IT process automation” doesn’t necessarily cover the complexity of the subject. That is, not all automation products are created equal. Decisions must be based on needs as well as the ability to integrate seamlessly with existing infrastructure. There is IT process automation, which can automate key processes such as system, network and application tasks. Then, there is Run book automation, which extends to cover everything from repetitive IT tasks to complex processes spanning across multiple IT systems. It takes careful consideration to determine which tool would be the best fit for each organization.

Regardless of which direction you choose to go in, one thing is for certain: automation is poised to fundamentally change the future of IT operations.

Are you ready to take the bull by the horns and get your organization on the path to a brighter, more successful future through IT process automation? Download a free 30 day trial today to get started! 





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




New Challenges and Opportunities for IT Process Automation

New Challenges and Opportunities for IT Process AutomationIn today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, one of the biggest challenges organizations are facing is how to successfully bring together all of their various technologies to ensure that their  IT operations are run as efficiently as possible while also remaining secure and compliant. To further complicate things, many businesses are struggling to find a way to marry their physical, virtual and cloud environments effectively. Finally, for investors, there are many unanswered questions about whether opportunities truly exist and what those opportunities may be. IT Process Automation delivers the solution to both of these dilemmas.

Out with the old, and in with the new

As technology improves, more and more businesses are finding it necessary to begin shifting from their existing IT systems, many of which are becoming obsolete, to more up-to-date options. Cloud computing has broken down barriers and opened countless doors, particularly for small to mid-size enterprises to be able to “come of age” and deliver the same level of service and performance as their larger competition. This has been easy for those firms just coming to market, but for those existing companies that have thus far subsisted with various antiquated programs and systems, making the transition can be a challenge.

How IT Process Automation can help?

IT Process Automation continues to revolutionize the way organizations do business, both internally and externally. One of the most powerful benefits of this technology is that it can become both a catalyst for change and the glue that connects the old on-premise systems to the new, improved and much more flexible cloud environment. This technology allows businesses to seamlessly integrate their legacy on-premise applications with new cloud-based systems and effectively pull together all of the various silos that once might have slowed the organization down.

What does this mean for the end user?

Another excellent advantage that IT Process Automation offers is its incredibly low technical learning curve. Whether your end-users are familiar with Active Directory, ServiceNow, VMware vSphere or another system or program, integration with an IT process automation system is virtually undetectable. Organizations have the option of still sticking with a program or system that they feel comfortable using, while also receiving the benefits of IT Process Automation, such as improved productivity, better allocation of resources and faster mean time to recovery (MTTR).

What does this mean for the potential investor?

Investors want to see that the businesses they will be supporting are on top of their game – particularly in terms of technology. How are operations run? What kind of systems are in place to maximize efficiency and improve production overall? When an organization is operating with multiple separate silos (physical, virtual and cloud), there is a much greater risk of interruption, which can be costly for the business and ultimately for the investor. With the right IT Process Automation tool in place, all of these silos can be seamlessly knit together for optimum performance and operational efficiency.

This type of solution presents more opportunity than risk to investors, which in turn creates better opportunity for the businesses themselves to receive the support they need to grow and achieve further success.

In conclusion…

The moral of the story is this: if your business is a little bit behind and you’re finding it necessary to somehow bring together all of your systems, IT process automation can help. Not only will you be able to easily integrate all of your silos, but you’ll also realize improved efficiency with the added tools IT Process Automation delivers. And when investors explore the possibility of supporting your organization, all of these benefits will make your business a more attractive option. In short, ITPA can enable you to rise to the next level and gain the competitive advantage you need to truly be successful.

What can IT Process Automation do for your business?

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




5 Key Areas Where IT Process Automation Can Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your IT Department

5 Key Areas Where IT Process Automation Can Deliver the Greatest Benefit to Your IT DepartmentWithout question, IT Process Automation (ITPA) has made a significant and permanent impact on the IT world. This technology has essentially provided IT professionals with the ability finally accomplish what they’ve been challenged with for decades: maximizing performance while minimizing costs. Now, routine time-consuming tasks as well as complex workflows can be streamlined and handled almost exclusively without the need for human input. In short, IT Process Automation has changed the face of IT for the better.

Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at 5 specific areas where IT Process Automation can produce the greatest benefit for your IT department and/or organization as a whole.

 

1. IT Organization

The old way of doing business involved individual silos and separate departments. In today’s digital age, the most successful organizations are the ones that are able to harness technology to break down these barriers and bridge the gap between departments and functions, effectively promoting collaboration and fostering innovation. IT Process Automation can provide the tools necessary to achieve this type of organization.

2. IT Infrastructure

In order for a business to function cohesively across all departments, there need to be streamlined and standardized procedures and technologies in place. This includes best practices, virtualization, cloud computing and more. When this type of environment is created, automation can then provide the opportunity for IT professionals to leverage their expertise and improve skill levels for the maximum benefit of the department and the company in its entirety.

3. IT Support

Support that is enhanced with IT Process Automation can ensure roll-out, implementation and adoption of best practices. It can also improve processes, such as migrations, ensure more effective enforcement of compliance requirements and ultimately boost service levels across the board.

4. IT Operations

With more pressure being placed on IT professionals to not only manage their specified workflows, but also possess an in-depth understanding of overarching business practices, these workers must find a way to become better-equipped to meet these demands. Automation can help by allowing IT operations the reallocation of resources so that personnel can focus on furthering their education and expertise.

5. General Routine / Repetitive Tasks

Those every day, repetitive manual tasks that your IT department is buried under are inevitably costing your business money. Workflow automation and self-service options can alleviate this concern by taking the burden off personnel. Not only can this vastly improve efficiency and productivity, but it can also cut costs in the long run.

With demands on IT professionals increasing at a rapid rate, the need for enhanced technological solutions has never been greater. IT Process Automation can help your organization meet these evolving needs so you can remain competitive and achieve ongoing success, both now and well into the future.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




Deliver IT Services Faster, Cheaper, and Better – Impossible?

Deliver IT Services Faster, Cheaper, and Better – ImpossibleWhile IT professionals certainly embrace technology as an integral component of the ongoing success of any business, the “powers that be” view technology as simply a means to an end. High level management and other stakeholders in the organization don’t care about the driving force behind what’s making the company run efficiently and productively – they really just care about the results. The ultimate goal is to continue to deliver a high level of IT Services in a way that is faster and less expensive. How do I&O leaders accomplish this without having to reinvent the wheel? By prioritizing service management and IT Process Automation. Here’s how.

Identify

The first step in prioritizing automation for IT Service Management (ITSM) is identifying the key areas within the organization that need to be addressed – the pain points, if you will. What areas are causing the most significant delays, expenses, and general frustration both internally and externally amongst customers? The problem with service management is that the customer focus has somehow become lost along the way. To be successful, IT professionals must begin to regain that focus and realign their planning to match up with the needs of the customers.

Design

Once the areas that present the most need are identified, IT professionals can set to work designing and developing the most effective solutions to meet these needs. In many cases, automation will be a key factor in streamlining operations and making the business run more efficiently as a whole. The more efficiently run the business, the better the output and service levels for the customer, so it’s a win-win. Not only can individual tasks be automated, but entire manual workflows can be designed to address whatever unique barriers were holding that particular business back from becoming more successful.

Implement

With the right plan in place, implementation should be a breeze. That’s why the first two steps are key. New processes and workflows can be rolled out, first in the IT department, then across all lines of business to create a more efficient operation overall. The concept of each department as a separate entity should be replaced by a more unified approach where IT departments and other teams work together toward a common goal (as we pointed out in our recent article about DevOps and IT Process Automation.)

Optimize

The last step in the process is an ongoing one, and that is to continuously monitor, measure and analyze the outcomes to ensure that they are consistently optimized. IT personnel must ensure the ongoing availability and quality of business services, both within the organization and externally. Not only should they ensure that previous processes and workflows are still being run at the highest level of efficiency and improved productivity, but they must also work proactively to ensure continuous improvement moving forward.

Essentially, service management and IT Process Automation go hand in hand and are critical in streamlining and optimizing the operations of any business. Yet simply understanding and embracing this concept isn’t enough to make the process a success. IT professionals must learn to prioritize the process and execute it in the most effective and efficient way possible to achieve the ultimate goal of improving the quality and timeliness of IT service delivery. This will better ensure that the “powers that be” see the ever-important results that they rely so heavily on and keep the business plugging on toward future success.

Could your service management process use a boost? IT Process Automation is the key.



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




New Critical Roles in Future IT Infrastructure and Operations

New Critical Roles in Future IT Infrastructure and OperationsThe world of IT Infrastructure is fluid, and as such, is constantly evolving to meet the changing demands of the businesses and industries it serves. A recent shift has been made toward developing technology and processes that not only streamlines the operational tasks of a business, but also focuses on service and support as a top priority. Gone are the days when all IT was responsible for was handling the back-end processing tasks.

The future of IT infrastructure and operations is about the big picture – managing processes from start to finish and delivering real solutions to the end-user. As a result, a number of new roles have emerged and are beginning to take shape, slowly replacing the tech-heavy positions of the past with more robust and balanced skillsets. Here are a few of these new roles that we can expect to see as the coming years unfold.

Designers and Assemblers

As we move toward a more well-rounded approach to IT, it is becoming more and more evident that to be successful, infrastructures will need to carefully develop robust portfolios of services that combine a variety of options from multiple sources – internally, externally and cloud-based. Expert designers and assemblers will be needed to develop these portfolios and ensure that the services within come together seamlessly and deliver results in the most efficient way possible.

Architects

Just as the very foundation of IT operations is evolving, so are the responsibilities of those who handle the day to day duties of the field. Architects are no exception. Presently, architects are spending an exorbitant amount of time and resources on menial operational responsibilities, such as system support functions and project execution. As IT Process Automation (ITPA) becomes more commonplace, many of these elementary duties will be eliminated, creating an opportunity for architects to apply their skills to more important strategic responsibilities, such as monitoring service vendors to ensure that what they are delivering is in line with the overall direction of the organization. Additionally, we will see architects taking on more responsibilities as they are freed up by technological advancements.

Process Design Experts

Because the future of IT infrastructure and operations involves a more robust and comprehensive business approach, the very design of internal processes will need to be modified and enhanced to accommodate these changes. Process design experts will be needed to analyze and polish internal processes, such as how change management is handled with new cloud-based applications. As IT operations evolve, so must the processes by which tasks are accomplished in order to ensure that everything continues to run smoothly and efficiently.

Vendor Managers

The more businesses begin to rely on external services as part of their robust IT portfolio, the more critical it becomes to monitor these outside vendors to prevent costly mistakes. Today’s operations view vendor management as a smaller function, but as we shift toward more abstracted services, the role becomes increasingly larger and more significant. Vendor managers will be required to closely monitor external services, well beyond the specifics of their contracts, to ensure stability and reduce liability to the organization.

Planners

With an ever-increasing list of infrastructure options, particularly those that can be customized and deployed rapidly, businesses must carefully consider the liability and complexity involved with integrating such a service with their existing systems. Planners will be needed to strategically analyze and tactically measure these services against their present processes, specifically narrowing down the choices to only those services that are in line with the direction of the organization and can be safely and seamlessly integrated with their existing infrastructure.

As we steamroll forward into the promising future of IT operations, it is becoming increasingly evident that the required technical skills of the past are changing. No longer will businesses be able to rely on traditional IT professionals, each with their own fragmented skillset. Instead, they will need to shift their focus toward IT Process Automation Engineers who will be prepared to take on the new roles listed here and better position the business for future success.

Is your organization ready to take on these changing IT roles?





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




How to get started with establishing effective IT Operations in 4 steps

The Case for Network Security Operations AutomationBusinesses today depend upon robust technology solutions that must be able to scale to meet growing demands while simultaneously maintaining near perfect reliability. Effective IT Operations helps organizations stay competitive against market forces and competitive demand. IT Service Operation relies upon process automation in order to identify and address potential problems. Establishing effective processes must start with a thorough understanding of the business goals and requirements; well-defined processes are not enough by themselves. IT Service Operations also depends upon robust tools and practices. This article will help you get started with establishing effective IT Operations using well-respected industry best practices.

Understanding IT Operations

I have worked with many operations professionals who were responsible for the day-to-day care of large scale mission critical systems. The most common problem that I have seen is that they lag behind on the essential technical knowledge that is required to handle incidents and problems as they come up. This should not be a surprise as it is the developers who get the lead time to learn new technologies and also get to make (and understand) technical choices. The DevOps movement is helping to bridge the knowledge gap between Development and Operations by focusing on a set of core shared principles, including the need for better communication. The good news is that IT Operations can also implement industry best practices by following mature frameworks such as itSMF ITIL v3. Understanding IT operations also depends upon establishing both robust processes and well-defined organizational functions.

The Need for Process

A process can be defined as a set of interrelated or interacting activities which transforms inputs into outputs [1]. Well defined processes describe the required tasks, roles and responsibilities along with the key checkpoints to ensure that the process is being followed. In practice, processes are normally enforced through a workflow automation tool. The ITIL v3 framework discusses a number of service operation processes including event management, incident management, problem management, request fulfillment and access management. In addition, there are several other supporting processes, a particularly crucial one being knowledge management [2]. Event management monitors all events that occur throughout the IT infrastructure and helps to facilitate the detection and escalation of exception conditions or what are often called incidents. Incident management concentrates on restoring service to users as quickly as possible, in order to minimize business impact[2]. Problem management involves root-cause analysis to determine and resolve the cause of events and incidents. Request fulfillment focuses on the management of customer or user requests that are not generated from an unexpected service delay or disruption [2]. Access management is similar to request fulfillment but focuses more on addressing access and authentication requests, such as user account lockouts and password resets.

When you call a Help Desk, you expect that each of these situations will be addressed in a reliable and consistent way. Repeatable processes are essential if you want to be able to ensure that your services are continuously operational and meet the business needs. But processes also need to be supported by organizational functions.

Functions Support the Process

Functions are organizational structures that have sufficient staffing and resources to get the job done. Some common functions include the Service Desk, Technical Management, IT Operations Management, and Application Management. The Service Desk is the primary point of contact for users when there is a service disruption[3]. If you have ever called a Help Desk when a system was down then you know how important it is for the Service Desk personnel to have accurate and complete information. IT Operations Management is responsible for the daily operational activities needed to manage the IT infrastructure. IT Operations is often faced with addressing critical incidents without sufficient information and expertise. This is precisely where a knowledge management system can be very helpful. The Known Error Database (KEDB) provides details of previous incidents/problems and their resolutions [4] so that problems can be understood and addressed quickly. Knowledge is critical for successful IT operations and establishing a comprehensive Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) [2] is an essential industry best practice described in the ITIL v3 framework. Processes and functions are important, but the fact is that you will not be successful unless you implement the right tools. IT process automation is an absolute must have for successful IT Operations and IT Process Automation tools are a must have if you want to automate your processes.

Automating Your IT Processes

The right tools have automated process workflows for the most common tasks already implemented and readily available. User dashboards provide updated information along with out-of-the box reports. IT Process Automation tools should have a workflow designer interface to allow for collaboration in determining the necessary steps and checkpoints for what can be very complex workflows. In fact, IT process automation helps to tame the more complex situations by starting with a simple template that can then be customized and enhanced in an iterative and realistic way. Evaluating and selecting the right tools will help you implement effective IT Service Operations which will ensure that your organization has reliable services that can be developed and scaled to support your business in today’s competitive global business environment.

Conclusion

It is not easy to establish effective IT Operations. But if you start with industry best practices and the right tools then you will give your business a clear advantage that will help you achieve success and profitability.

Guest author Bob Aiello





EBOOK: HOW TO MEASURE IT PROCESS AUTOMATION RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)