Posts

3 Steps for Using IT Process Automation to Optimize the MSP Role

3 Steps for Using IT Process Automation to Optimize the MSP RoleAs a managed service provider, you’re probably already (painfully) aware of the pressure to maximize output while keeping costs as low as possible. This is no easy feat, especially in such a highly competitive marketplace. Those providers that find a way to do more without having to increase expenditure will be the ones that emerge as victorious and profitable in the long run. One simple yet powerful way to achieve this goal is to leverage IT process automation to streamline your MSP operations.

If you’re not sure where or how to begin, here are 3 best practices for using ITPA to help you do your job better, faster and more cost-effectively.

  1. Identify Areas of Need

You obviously can’t automate everything you do (at least not yet), so the first step involves identifying the areas of your job where technology could be applied most effectively for immediate impact. A good place to start is to list out all of the manual, tedious and other mundane, repetitive tasks that you and/or your team perform on a day to day basis. Start by automating these things and you’ll start realizing the benefits right off the bat.

Now, instead of wasting time and resources, you and your team can focus on more mission-critical projects, such as developing and implementing a growth strategy. Eventually, you’ll also be able to apply IT process automation to more complex workflows, but this is a good place to begin the process.

  1. Choose Your Solution

There are dozens, if not hundreds of IT process automation tools on the market today. This can make choosing the right one for your business quite challenging. Do your homework and try to find an automation product that is most closely aligned with your business needs. You want a product that’s robust, but try not to fall for flashy gimmicks, otherwise you could end up with an automation tool that has a ton of features you don’t even need.

Furthermore, remember that the ultimate goal you are working toward is most likely growing your business, so be sure to choose a solution that is scalable and agile enough to match your changing needs and demands seamlessly.

  1. Develop Runbooks for Best Practices

Once you’ve chosen your IT process automation software, the next step is to develop and establish standard operating instructions, also known as run books. This allows your employees to create quicker, easier ways to complete common tasks automatically. Few MSPs maintain documented procedures for technical issues or handling customer service situations, instead relying on the expertise of their most qualified technicians to handle problems as they arise. But what happens if and when these individuals leave?

Run book automation can be used as a precautionary measure to protect MSPs from scenarios like this. These pre-programmed instructions can then serve as a guideline for running an efficient, productive operation without having to worry about the risks associated with employee turnover.

As an MSP, you are undoubtedly faced with making a number of critical decisions on a daily basis. Inevitably, many of these choices will continue to have an impact on the future of your business for years to come. Making the wise decision to adopt IT process automation will improve the chances that your company will remain stable, competitive and consistently capable of achieving sustained success.

Ready to take that first step and start harnessing the power of automation for your company? It’s a simple as downloading a free 30 day trial of eyeShare. What are you waiting for? Your future profitability awaits. Click here to get started!





eBook: Top 7 Benefits IT Process Automation Provides MSP’s




The Benefits of Keeping Run Book Automation On-Premise

The Benefits of Keeping Runbook Automation On-PremiseWhile many organizations are shifting their on-premise services to cloud solutions such as ServiceNow, RemedyForce and JIRA, the question that is coming up more and more is, should we move everything to the cloud?

Take, for example, IT process automation (a.k.a. run book automation). Is this business function really safe in the cloud, or should it be managed on-premise? Although the recent shift toward cloud technology seems to support the idea of every function being handled virtually, it’s important to note that there are still lots of risks associated with doing so. While keeping your datacenter, servers, and networks secured, does your Chief Security Officer allow remote execution protocols, which are fraught with security risks when accessed via cloud service?

One of the main advantages of an on-premise IT process automation solution is the fact that you can keep your data secure with no need to open remote protocols, i.e. SSH, FTP, RDP, Command line, etc. No sensitive data flows between your servers and the cloud management tools; therefore there are no additional risks added to your already vulnerable systems.

Another plus to managing your IT process automation in-house is that you are not limited to the level of automation you can achieve while you are on-premise. Instead of being subject to the limitations of whatever security policies, cookie-cutter hosting services are available, you have much more flexibility in terms of customizing the solution to meet the specific needs of your organization and scaling it to accommodate future growth.

Additionally, you can still automate tasks which are in the cloud from your secure on-premise server. So you basically get the best of both worlds without running the risk of a dangerous or costly security breach.

One argument often used as a criticism of on-premise run book automation is that it incurs a higher expenditure because it requires more IT personnel to effectively manage the system in-house. To the contrary – the automation itself actually frees up internal personnel because it automates repetitive and time consuming manual tasks.

Finally, there is the issue of connectivity with cloud-based solutions. When your systems are hosted, there is always a chance that a service disruption could occur, over which you have little control. On-premise software provides more control, reducing the likelihood of being unable to access your mission-critical data and systems on-demand.

So, when the question of whether every business function can, or more importantly – should be moved to the cloud, much thought and careful consideration must be given to each area prior to making a decision. While leveraging cloud technology makes good business sense in many areas, IT process automation might be one area best kept in-house. Doing so will provide the security needed to keep data protected on your hybrid infrastructure in the future, while also giving you the control and customization you need to achieve the full benefit of run book automation for your organization.

Experience secure, on-premise run book automation for your business. Download your free trial today.





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




The Advantages of Secure, On-Premise Run Book Automation

Author [googleplusauthor]

While many organizations are shifting their on-premise services to cloud solutions such as ServiceNow, RemedyForce and JIRA, the question that is coming up more and more is, should we move everything to the cloud?

Secured-On-premise-RBATake, for example, IT process automation (a.k.a. run book automation). Is this business function really safe in the cloud, or should it be managed on-premise? Although the recent shift toward cloud technology seems to support the idea of every function being handled virtually, it’s important to note that there are still lots of risks associated with doing so. While keeping your datacenter, servers, and networks secured, does your Chief Security Officer allow remote execution protocols, which are fraught with security risks when accessed via cloud service?

Security of your servers is your responsibility!

One of the main advantages of an on-premise IT process automation solution is the fact that you can keep your data secure with no need to open remote protocols, i.e. SSH, FTP, RDP, Command line, etc. No sensitive data flows between your servers and the cloud management tools; therefore there are no additional risks added to your already vulnerable systems.

Another plus to managing your IT process automation in-house is that you are not limited to the level of automation you can achieve while you are on-premise. Instead of being subject to the limitations of whatever security policies, cookie-cutter hosting services are available, you have much more flexibility in terms of customizing the solution to meet the specific needs of your organization and scaling it to accommodate future growth.

Additionally, you can still automate tasks which are in the cloud from your secure on-premise server. So you basically get the best of both worlds without running the risk of a dangerous or costly security breach.

One argument often used as a criticism of on-premise run book automation is that it incurs a higher expenditure because it requires more IT personnel to effectively manage the system in-house. To the contrary – the automation itself actually frees up internal personnel because it automates repetitive and time consuming manual tasks.

Finally, there is the issue of connectivity with cloud-based solutions. When your systems are hosted, there is always a chance that a service disruption could occur, over which you have little control. On-premise software provides more control, reducing the likelihood of being unable to access your mission-critical data and systems on-demand.

So, when the question of whether every business function can, or more importantly – should be moved to the cloud, much thought and careful consideration must be given to each area prior to making a decision. While leveraging cloud technology makes good business sense in many areas, IT process automation might be one area best kept in-house. Doing so will provide the security needed to keep data protected on your hybrid infrastructure in the future, while also giving you the control and customization you need to achieve the full benefit of run book automation for your organization.

To try a secure, on-premise run book automation solution for your business, download Ayehu eyeShare today





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




IT Process Automation News Letter #4

 

Dear Reader,

First, I would like to thank those of you who visited us at the Microsoft Management Summit in Vegas last month. Many thanks for the great feedback you gave us on our new release of IT Process Automation pinpoint solutions, Now available for Free Evaluation Download eyeShare 4.1.
In this newsletter you’ll find useful information about IT automation case study, video tutorial, tips and best practices for managing Network Operation Center.

 

Enjoy!
Gabby Nizri, 
Ayehu CEO
Linked-In group

 

Enhancing SCOM 2012 with proactive IT automation 
Enhance SCOM2012
With System Center Operations Manager 2012 you can monitor IT systems, network and services and react to incidents and alerts or proactively manage IT tasks better and faster than ever before.However, if you got this far, why not take one step further and automate the resolution of problems too? Why not remediate IT incidents automatically, and proactively schedule IT maintenance tasks?eyeShare lets you do all this, with a smooth SCOM 2012 integration. See the video below or Read more about SCOM 2012 and eyeShare integration.

  

eyeShare SCOM 2012 integration
Watch the Video: eyeShare integration with SCOM 2012

  

 

Download Free eBook – 10 NOC Best Practices

Download our new best practices for network operation center management eBook:NOC best practices eBook

  • 5 Essential tools NOC must have
  • How to develop & maintain team knowledge and skills
  • Training new NOC members
  • Improving communication and collaboration within and outside the NOC
  • Escalating, prioritizing, and handling problems

 Download  Download eBook: 10 NOC Best Practices

 

 

Which IT processes should you automate?

When discussing IT Process Automation, one of the first questions you ask yourself is – which processes should be automated?
An InformationWeek survey found five areas that users thought were the most beneficial.

 

  • Backup and restoration
  • Disaster recovery
  • Service fulfillment
  • Incident management
  • Data movement

Researches, however, identified other ‘key win’ areas that provide more value. Read our latest blog post.

 

120 workflow templates are ready for you to test! 
automated workflow

 The eyeShare template library now has 120 templates with ‘pre-canned’ content so you can automate more tasks faster. New templates include:

  • Killing stuck processes
  • Anti-virus inventory reports
  • Cisco router tasks
  • Database table tasks
  • File and folder automation

 

Want this cool Super Hero T-shirt?

Visit Ayehu at Booth#130 at
Mic
rosoft Management Summit 2012 in Las Vegas

Ayehu will be launching IT Process Automation Pinpoint Solutions – prepackaged workflows for the rapid automation of planned, repetitive IT tasks. These solutions extend Microsoft’s System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 capabilities and will be demonstrated at the Summit.

We give this awesome T-shirt for FREE!

Stop by our booth #130, to get yourself the “IT Automation Superhero” Cool T-shirt! It’s Free!

** You can also send us an e-mail to meet us at the show**

Hope to see you there!

Network Operation Center (NOC) Best Practices – Part 1: Tools

Today, Network Operation Centers (NOC’s) are under a great pressure to meet their IT organization’s demands. However, many NOCs struggle to meet these demands with insufficient tools, knowledge or skills.

In this 3 parts blog post series, we will provide Network Operation Center Best Practices and tips on how to ensure you have the right tools, knowledge and processes in place to improve and manage your NOC’s performance and response time.

This first part of our NOC best practices‘ series is dedicated to tools, which are an essential element in NOC management and a key feature for improvement.

A ticketing system

A ticketing system will enable you to keep track of all open issues, according to severity, urgency and the person assigned to handle each task. Knowing all pending issues will help you to prioritize the shift’s tasks and provide the best service to your customers.

Knowledge-base system

Keep a one centralized source for all knowledge and documentation that is accessible to your entire team. This knowledge base should be a fluid information source to be continuously updated with experiences and lessons learned for future reference and improvements.

Reporting and measurements

Create reports on a daily and monthly basis. A daily report should include all major incidents of the past 24 hours and a root cause for every resolved incident. This report is useful and essential for the shift leaders and NOC managers. It also keeps the rest of the IT department informed about the NOC activities and of major incidents. Compiling the daily reports into a monthly report will help measure the team’s progress. It will also show areas where improvements can be made or indicate any positive or negative trends in performance.

Monitoring

There are two types of monitoring processes relevant to NOC:
(1) Monitoring infrastructure and (2) User experience.

A monitoring infrastructure can consist of the servers, the network or the data center environment. User experience monitoring involves the simulation of user behavior and activities in order to replicate problems and find the most effective solutions. Implementing a service tree model that connects the monitoring infrastructure with an affected service will allow your team to alert other areas that may be affected by the problems experienced.

IT Process Automation

ImplementingIT Process Automation significantly reduces mean time to recovery (MTTR) and helps NOCs meet SLA’s by having a procedure in place to handle incident resolution and to consistently provide high quality response regardless of complexity of the process. IT Process Automation empowers a Level-one team to deal with tasks that otherwise might require a Level-two team. Some examples include password reset, disk space clean-up, reset services etc. IT Process Automation is also a major help with reducing the number of manual, routine IT tasks and free up time for more strategic projects.

Download Now! Free eBook 10 NOC best practices

The Potential of Run Book Automation

We all face three IT Process Automation imperatives that have a major impact on business profitability:

  • Deploying innovative services (which have increased system complexity)
  • Maintaining service levels and improving system uptime
  • Reducing operating costs (which have grown in parallel with the growth in IT system complexity)

Given these challenges, Run Book Automation (aka IT Process Automation) offers the opportunity to enable significant gains on all three fronts.

Why Complexity is a Good Thing Again
Over the years, we’ve been attacking the word ‘complexity’: The implication was that complexity was unnecessary, difficult to manage, and thus needlessly expensive. But today, we are achieving fantastic savings in capital expenses while increasing flexibility. Solutions such as virtualization and cloud computing, security, network management are smart and robust, yet (unavoidably) complex in their very nature.

So the battle for IT can now be targeted not necessarily at ‘reducing complexity’, but rather on ‘improving the efficiency’ of managing across the variety of complex IT domains. In other words, the goal is to achieve consistent service levels, higher quality of offerings and cost optimization.

IT Process Automation is the Key
Till now, each of the various IT systems has been optimized in and of itself… But we haven’t yet optimized the day-to-day operational activity and troubleshooting diagnostic steps that keeps these systems working together. As much as we all want to believe that our environment can become one well-greased machine that requires no human interaction, it just isn’t a reality. This is not because we haven’t figured out how to get people out of the loop. It is because in most cases, people are an integral part of that loop!

But having people in the loop doesn’t mean everything needs to be rote, manual actions. Run Book Automation has emerged on the scene specifically to meet this challenge.

A Run Book Automation Example
Let’s demonstrate with an example. It’s perhaps the simplest of examples, which you’ve been through one or two or a thousand times. (If not, then congratulations. You are the only IT manager in the world whose users know how to manage their passwords.)

    • A user forgets his/her PC workstation login password (most likely at 7am or noon rush hour, when you have no time for that)
    • He/she calls IT Support to request a password reset. (“Urgent!” of course…)
    • IT Admin goes through a handful of steps:

1. Bring up the pwd reset screen
2. Access the security protocol screen
3. Challenge the user with identity verification
4. Authorize the pwd reset
5. Guide the user in how to proceed

While password reset has become fully automated on most external websites, corporate security protocols typically do not allow for full process automation of internal password management. (And rightfully so, I might add.) So any attempt to fully automate the process is dead in the water.
But why throw out the baby with the bathwater? If an automation platform does the routine work for us, but still allows for two-way communication with the IT admin, we can turn 10 minute tasks into 30 second tasks (done on the go, from your Blackberry or iPhone)! And without adding even a drop of additional risk or corporate policy violation.

What Should a Run Book Automation Solution Provide?
The above example looks at a very simple IT task, which is very compact in comparison to most of our IT processes. But it still highlights the capabilities that a good Run Book Automation solution needs to bring to the table. It’s quite simple:

  • Event-driven visual workflow (No coding, just drag and drop and plain common sense!)
  • Rule-based engine
  • Plug-and-play integration with IT platforms
  • Bi-directional communication between the system and the people, using convenient channels (email, SMS, IVR, IM)
  • Centralized dashboard for process management in real time

I think that Glenn O’Donnell of Forrester says it best when he says “Be the automator, not the automated”. Run Book Automation recognizes that people are part of the IT process. So let’s accept this reality, and use it as a strength, via Run Book Automation.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate