How to Integrate IT Process Automation with HP Operations Manager

Businesses across the globe are leveraging  HP Operations Manager (HPOM) software to monitor their internal IT infrastructure and consolidate fault and performance events to help identify the causes of IT incidents. HP Operations Manager is the choice for many organizations because it provides a single monitoring console for both virtual and cloud infrastructures. What many businesses don’t realize is that this highly effective tool can be enhanced to further improve response time and subsequent service levels by simply integrating it with eyeShare’s IT Process Automation (ITPA) product. Here’s how.

The eyeShare product features a convenient bi-directional integration with HP Operations Manager, which allows the end user to capture and acknowledge alerts in real-time while updating and closing alerts directly through the HPOM console. Implementation can be completed in less than 5 minutes. It’s fast, it’s simple and it’s an easy way to improve and enhance an already powerful tool.

Check this video tutorial you will learn how eyeShare’s bi-directional integration with HP Operations Manager (HPOM) can help you to manage alerts:

How it Works

The plug and play integration of eyeShare with HP Operations Manager allows businesses to automate the creation of tickets in a variety of IT Service Management tools, including HP Service Manager, ServiceNow, Remedy, and many other service desk applications. Not only does this integration improve internal and external service levels, but keeping your data up-to-date and organized also enables for continuous service improvement and helps you meet your governance and regulatory compliance requirements such as SOX, HIPAA, ITIL, etc.

By combining eyeShare’s IT Process Automation capabilities with the expert functionality of HPOM, IT professionals can easily capture and manager actionable information and workflows, accelerate responses to alerts and create automated response actions (IT process workflows) for any problems that may arise across your entire physical, virtual, or cloud IT infrastructure.

Some of the many tangible results that can be seen almost immediately following the integration of eyeShare with HPOM include the ability to:

  • Automate the capture of alerts for quicker response
  • Consolidate and organize all critical alerts
  • Assign responsibility and automatically troubleshoot (triage)
  • Immediately notify and/or escalate to the appropriate user or group
  • Execute tasks to resolve IT problems remotely

All of these things can be accomplished while still maintaining real-time updates and working via a single HP Operations Manager console.  It really doesn’t get any easier and more efficient than that!

If your business has chosen HP Operations Manager, chances are you’ve already improved and enhanced your ability to manage incidents. Why not take that achievement one step further and let Ayehu eyeShare bring your IT operations to a whole new level? Download your free trial today to get started!





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




Free Ebook: IT Process Automation Survival Guide!

Before you go on your Thanksgiving vacation, let us help you to leave with a peace  of  mind.

Download our new ebook: IT process automation survival guide!

This guide will help you prepare and get started with IT automation in a systematic and practical way, by answering some of  the most common questions:

IT Process Automation Survival Guide




4 Essential steps for Successful Incident Management

Automated Incident ManagementIt never hurts to go back to basics. Recently, we were surprised at the confusion of some organizations about the process of incident management, so we thought – why not to put a quick incident management primer down on paper?

For successful incident management, first you need a process – repeatable sequence of steps and procedures. Such a process may include four broad categories of steps: detection, diagnosis, repair, and recovery.

1 – Detection

Identification Problem identification can be handled using different tools. For instance, infrastructure monitoring tools help identify specific resource utilization issues, such as disk space, memory, CPU, etc.  End user experience tools can mimic user behavior and identify users’ POV problems such as response time and service availability. Last but not least, domain-specific tools enable detecting problems within specific environments or applications, such as a database or an ERP system.

On the other hand, users can help you detect unknown problems that are not reported by infrastructure or user behavior monitoring tools. The drawback with problem detection by users is that it usually happens late (the problem is already there), moreover the symptoms reported may lead you to point to the wrong direction.

So which method should you use? Depending on your environment, the usage of the combination of multiple methods and tools would be the best solution. Unfortunately, no single tool will enable detecting all problems.

Logging events will allow you to trace them at any point to improve your process. Properly logged incidents will help you investigate past trends and identify problems (repeating incidents from the same kind), as well as to investigate ownership taking and responsibility.

Classification of events lets you categorize data for reporting and analysis purposes, so you know whether an event relates to hardware, software, service, etc. It is recommended to have no more than 5 levels of classification; otherwise it can get very confusing. You can start the top level with something like Hardware / Software / Service, or Problem / Service request.

Prioritization lets you determine the order in which the events should be handled and how to assign your resources. Prioritization of events requires a longer discussion, but be aware that you need to consider impact, urgency, and risk. Consider the impact as critical when a large group of users are unable to use a specific service. Consider the urgency as high when the impacted service is of critical nature and any downtime is affecting the business itself. The third factor, the risk, should be considered when the incident has not yet occurred, but has a high potential to happen, for example, a scenario in which the data center’s temperature is quickly rising due to an air conditioning malfunction. The result of a crashing data center is countless services going down, so in this case the risk is enormous, and the incident should be handled at the highest priority.

2 – Diagnosis

Diagnosis is where you figure out the source of the problem and how it can be fixed. This stage includes investigation and escalation.

Investigation is probably one of the most difficult parts of the process. In fact, some argue that when resolving IT problems, 80% of the time is spent on root cause analysis vs. 20% that is spent on problem fixing. With more straightforward problems, Runbook procedures may be very helpful to accelerate an investigation, as they outline troubleshooting steps in a methodical way.

Runbook tip: The most crucial part of the runbook is the troubleshooting steps. They should be written by an expert, and be detailed enough so every team member can follow them quickly. Write all your runbooks using the same format, and insist on using the same terms in all of them. New team members who are not familiar yet with every system will be able to navigate through the troubleshooting steps much more easily.

Following the runbook can be very time consuming and lengthen the recovery time immensely. Instead, consider automating the diagnostic steps by using run book automation software. If you build the flow cleverly and weigh in all the steps that lead to a conclusion, automating the diagnostics process will give you quick answers, and help you decide what your next step is.

Escalation procedures are needed in cases when the incident needs to be resolved by a higher support level.

3 – Repair

The repair step, well… it fixes the problem. This may sometimes involve a gradual process, where a temporary fix or workaround is implemented primarily to bring back a service quickly.  An incident repair may involve anything from a service restart, a hardware replacement, or even a complex software code change. Note that fixing the current incident does not mean that the issue won’t recur, but more on that issue in the next step.

 In this case too, straightforward repairs such as a service restart ,a disk cleanup and others can be automated.

4 – Recovery

The recovery phase involves two parts: closure and prevention.

Closure means handling any notifications previously sent to users about the problem or escalation alerts, where you are now notified about the problem resolution. Moreover closure also entails the final closure of the problems in your logging system.

Prevention relates to the activities you take, if possible, to prevent a single incident from occurring again in the future and therefore becoming a problem. Implement two important tools to help you in this task:

RCA process (Root Cause Analysis) The purpose of the RCA process is to investigate what was the root cause that led to the service downtime. It is important to mention that the RCA process should be performed by the service owners, who are not necessarily the ones who solved the specific incident. This is an additional reason why incident logging is so important – the information in the ticket is crucial for this investigation process.

And finally, Incident reports – while this report will not prevent the problem from occurring again, it will allow you to continually learn and improve your incident management process.





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




How IT Process Automation Can Benefit Over Human Intervention

How IT Process Automation Can Benefit Over Human InterventionIn the not so distant past, businesses of just about every industry held steadfastly to the belief that computers could never be as valuable as a human employee. Even when IT Process automation began to take hold of the manufacturing field, with cars being assembled by machines rather than assembly line workers, there was still belief that human intervention was the most coveted asset of an organization.

While it’s true that technology will never fully replace people, it’s becoming increasingly clear that automation can provide a distinct benefit beyond what any living, breathing employee could. Here’s how.

If you think about the typical day to day tasks of a data center in any given industry, you’ll inevitably come up with a list of routine, repetitive actions….managing storage, assigning network access, monitoring and responding to incoming incidents, adhering to SLAs, and countless other activities. Leaving these tasks in the hands of human employees could actually be causing your business more harm than good. Not only do these things cost valuable time and resources, but they’re very easy to mess up, leaving your organization vulnerable to costly human error.

IT process automation  solution

IT process automation provides a solution to these risks by taking just about every manual, repetitive task and allowing technology to do the heavy lifting instead. This vastly improves speed and efficiency, which in turn boosts service levels. It also eliminates the chance of mistakes made by overworked or tired human workers. And because the IT team will no longer be bogged down by menial day to day tasks, they will be able to focus on other, much more important items, vastly improving overall productivity.

Take this concept to the next level, and you’ve got the possibility of automating not just simple, repetitive tasks, but entire complex workflows. This broad term is applied to any series of events that take place in a certain pattern to achieve a desired outcome. One example of a common IT workflow is the service ticket process. A user initiates a ticket, which is retrieved and investigated by an IT team member, and either handled directly or escalated. The flow continues through resolution and the original ticket is closed, completing the workflow process.

IT workflow automation is designed to reduce and/or eliminate human intervention as much as possible. In the example above, rather than having an IT worker handle the service ticket process, the workflow could continue automatically, with responses and actions taken based on predetermined instructions. This eliminates the need for most, if not all human intervention in the process, making it faster and more accurate.

While some workflows may still require human intervention in certain situations, such as when a workflow encounters an error and cannot be completed, or when a step in a more complex process requires approval, even with these occasional interruptions, automated workflows are exponentially more efficient than if they were handled entirely by IT personnel.

It’s important to note the difference between IT process automation and scripts, which many organizations still rely on to assist with internal workflows. In comparison, IT automation provides a much greater level of control and efficiency than scripts. Automation is also much easier to manage, since scripts can be quite complicated and typically require the expertise of a tech-savvy person to write, manage and troubleshoot them. IT process automation is much more user-friendly and intuitive, and also much less prone to error.

Additionally, IT workflow automation can be integrated with existing systems to provide enhanced benefit and a more robust solution than standalone products. For example, the right automation tool integrated with an existing monitoring system can enhance the quality, speed and accuracy of incident management.

Imagine how much more valuable your IT team would be if they didn’t have to spend hours upon hours every day managing and monitoring workflows. Now, think about how your organization as a whole could benefit from improved efficiency, fewer errors, better service levels and lower expenses. When you look at it from that angle, it’s easy to see how beneficial IT workflow automation truly can be above and beyond the human team you’ve got in place.


eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




IT Process Automation Engineer wanted – 5 skills needed

How to Be More Proactive with Your Cyber Security Incident ResponseEveryone talks about the changes in the IT world – the increased complexity, the pressures to improve efficiency, and the need for tighter links between IT and business. But how does this influence your IT personnel and skill set requirements? Obviously, there’s a need for IT professionals with backgrounds in data center operations, systems integration, virtualization etc. Yet the demand for closer links between IT technologists and business operations implies new skills. Particularly with IT process automation becoming an essential element, IT engineers need new skills beyond familiarity with technologies. If in the past requirements focused solely on technical expertise and you were only looking for scripting wizards and troubleshooting superheroes – then today your IT group needs a much wider set of abilities. You need IT Process Automation Engineers who are able to understand the needs and processes of the business, translate those needs into IT activities, and prioritize and implement them in the most productive way. So what are the additional skills an IT process automation engineer needs? Here are 5 of the top ones in our view.

  1. Business perspective. A business/financial state of mind that enables considering and applying non-technical data inputs. For instance, figuring out key KPI’s affecting the IT project,  measuring return on investment (ROI), and optimizing an IT project implementation to achieve financial goals.
  2. Process analysis. The ability to define and implement processes such as incident management, change management, operations, information security, business continuity & disaster recovery, and business service management.
  3. IT Project management. Skilled project manager who can not only oversee and monitor projects, but also identify business users’ needs and translate them into IT requirements. IT engineers that can clearly justify how a business may increase its staff productivity and efficiency using different processes and tools.
  4. Process Implementation. The new IT process automation engineer has to be able to understand end-to-end processes, have a wide understanding of workflows and the ability to create them in an automated environment.
  5. Interpersonal skills. The need for stronger communication with business managers requires interpersonal skills – the ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people outside the IT domain, understanding business peoples’ needs, concerns and different point of view, and that rare ability to negotiate and make compromises – on both sides.

What are the skills you think are required from IT Process Automation engineers?





eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




Ayehu Software Releases Integration Pack for SolarWinds

 

Ayehu Software Technologies Ltd., industry leading developer of enterprise level IT process automation solutions is pleased to announce the release of its integration pack for SolarWinds. This is the first out-of-the-box integration of its kind, offering enhanced performance and a tremendous savings to customers.

SolarWinds is a network monitoring software which allows users to detect, assess and resolve incidents, such as network outages. Although highly valuable, users of the product often become overwhelmed with incoming alerts and bogged down by the time-consuming task of incident management. eyeShare provides the perfect solution by automatically remediating network problems using remote execution of automated workflows.

watch a video tutorial about the eyeShare/Solarwinds integration:

When eyeShare is integrated with SolarWinds Orion, it provides closed-loop network management and IT process automation at one single point. Alerts generated by SolarWinds trigger eyeShare’s automated workflows. Each workflow uses bi-directional communication to update SolarWinds when it finishes remediating the problem. Events are then automatically returned from eyeShare to SolarWinds to close the loop and update the status – all without the need for any human interaction.

“Having direct access to ServiceNow and SolarWinds Orion has made integration between the two systems possible within an hour or two. Automating disk growth was the next big win. Even though this process is complicated, we were able to create a dynamic way to grow server drives while still communicating the details within our ITSM with updates and even feedback from a customer if more information is needed.”

Commented Alex Yaney of LexisNexis. “

 

Download Free 30-Day Trial

 

 

Why your scripts are not real automation

When it comes to IT automation there is always a debate whether or not to buy a ready to use software or to have it scripted.  So here is a list of points one has to consider before giving the green light either for scripting or to purchase IT automation software.

Scripting vs Automation

Scripting is a slow, time consuming process, and it’s difficult for maintenance. Human erring has high risks and it’s challenging to track and fix, thus it leads to troubles in maintaining the scripts and its results. When something goes wrong, nobody knows what happened, who is the guy who wrote those scripts? So there is another barrier for IT personnel. If we are talking already about maintenance, we have to mention that it’s hard to keep documentation up to date, not to remark that the lack of ability  to audit and record each script execution, is almost impossible, since there is no unified language, no consistency and nobody who controls those scripts.

However there are other factors that have to be considered too. As I mentioned above, scripting is a slow process thus requiring more time and cost, sometimes more than just buying a piece of tool, moreover deteriorating the level of efficiency of the team.

Scripting is not real automation, its only part of  IT automation.

So what can full IT automation give you? It’s easy to implement, takes only a couple of hours and you can start your IT process automation. You can capture, document, audit, and control your processes.

You get to see value from day-one and not only that it saves you time to delivery, you will see your ROI very fast.

Let’s take as an example one of the everyday tasks an IT person has to carry out – disk space cleaning on servers, and see what happens when you use scripting or IT automation software. With scripting you have to implement on every and each server the task and its policy, when to delete, what to delete, who will approve that change and more…it’s difficult to know what part of the execution have been done and if there was a failure , moreover what caused that failure. However when you have an IT automation software, these processes can be easily managed and controlled by using a visual workflow to see on your dashboard the status of each task.

And still, if you insist to keep your current scripting work or can’t stop yourself from doing scripting, do it with the help of a visual IT workflow designer where you can empower your skills using product or tool that will empower your work, improve your script and provide you with full control and visibility, so your boss can be impressed how fast and efficient you did this project and how happy he is now that he can have full view about these tasks, and you don’t have to tell him it’s done with one hand tied behind your back.

IT Process Automation Survival Guide




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 files Send an alert to a human being to inform about status (SMS, mail, voice message)
File size Perform file operations (delete, move, etc.)
File extension Terminate a task or start a process/server
Timestamp Extract data , parse,
File data (read log file) Perform corrective maintenance

Here’s how the process actually looks like:





IT Process Automation Survival Guide




IT Process Automation – Which processes should you automate?

IT Process Automation

When discussing IT Process Automation (a.k.a Runbook Automation), one of the first questions (even before tools) is – which processes should you automate?

Operational or Business Processes?

There’s a popular distinction between business processes and operational, or data center processes. A business process may be, for example, change management, escalation, notification, etc. Operational/data center processes have stronger focus around IT operational systems and procedures – for example, backup & recovery, access management, etc.

The line between these two types of processes is not clear cut, and in many cases a process may be both operational and business oriented. For example, see the results from Information Week’s IT Process Automation report. It seems that survey respondents are focused mostly on operational and data center processes (31%) or on a combination of both operational and business processes (42%).  There is much less automation of business and customer processes (24%).

Top Areas for IT process automation

It’s always interesting to see what others are automating – even though you have your own priorities and unique needs. The same Information Week survey asked how critical was it to automate specific process areas?  According to the survey, “leading the pack were mostly hard core operations processes”:

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

This seems natural, as most of these (except for disaster recovery) are repetitive tasks that consume many hours from IT teams. In fact, some of these tasks are relatively easy to automate. Take a look at some of our Pinpoint IT process automation templates to find out more. For example, Active Directory password reset, free up disk space, file monitoring, restart Windows service, or monitor event logs for disaster recovery.

The researches, however, identified the following 5 “key win areas” for automation, which provide more value. (We added links from each of these areas to a specific customer case study in order to illustrate types of issues that can be automated):

Service Desk

So which processes should I automate?

Now that you know a bit what others think should be automated, we’re back to our initial question – which processes should you automate?

As a first step, start with mapping your current processes and their key operational metrics for each of the service and business applications.

Once you create such a list, try to prioritize them based on the following two questions:
  • Time. What are the quantifiable benefits from automating each process? Consider how many hours are currently spent on the manual process – both by IT employees, as well by management for each such process.
  • Effort to automate. What would be the required effort to implement automation, as well as maintain the automated process? Obviously, this question is more difficult to answer, since it requires a familiarity with one or more tools, and depends as well on the skills of your team. More about this in my next post.





IT Process Automation Survival Guide