Why IT professionals should change their view of IT Service Management?

service managment

To date, IT Service Management (ITSM) has consistently been viewed as simply part of the IT infrastructure library (ITIL) processes. However, with the looming shift of IT operations from fragmented services to a more end-to-end, service-driven approach, the concept of ITSM is poised to play an increasingly critical role in business operations. In order to successfully navigate this shift toward service, IT professionals must essentially rethink what this practice is really about and how it will serve their organizations going forward.

The Original Intention of IT Service Management

When it was first developed, the practice of IT Service Management was intended to bring a more unified approach to how IT technology services were integrated with the organization as a whole. Rather than managing individual components, ITSM focused on developing a collection of best practice processes (ITIL) and using these best practices to deliver end-to-end services. Organizations would conduct ITSM audits which analyzed things such as ROI, budget adherence, and the effectiveness of communication and identifying and evaluating risk. The purpose was to identify areas that needed improvement so that IT services could be better honed to benefit the entire organization.

What’s missing?

While ITSM is still a concrete practice, in order to be truly effective it must evolve along with the changes of IT as a whole. What’s missing from the original concept of ITSM is the very end-user – the customer. Internal processes may have been improved significantly, but if these improvements don’t translate to the customer, it’s not a true victory.

How can IT professionals change their view of IT Service Management?

In order to get the most out of ITSM, people must begin to shift their perspective from strictly internal to also include external benefit. The easiest way to do this is to simply drop the “IT” from ITSM and replace it with automation. This essentially expands the benefit of ITSM from the internal operations of the enterprise to also improve the customer experience through the delivery of faster outcomes, higher quality service and at a much more attractive price. Internal processes are streamlined and made more efficient, while external service also improves. It’s a win-win.

If businesses are going to be successful in the future, they must leverage new and changing technology to truly deliver the unique and unparalleled experiences that their customers are seeking. Adjusting the concept of ITSM to incorporate IT process automation into the mix will accomplish this goal, providing the competitive advantage needed to thrive in the coming years.





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ITSM Automation – Start Filling in the Gaps

ITSM AutomationThe nice thing about IT Service Management platforms is their comprehensiveness. Using a single, unified umbrella, you manage and integrate a range of best practices and service components – service desk, project and service portfolio management, incidents, change, configuration management and more. All of which helps to ensure that your services stay aligned with your business requirements.

But the wealth of functionality, combined with the need to support the unique processes of each organization, brings with it a challenge – filling in gaps. Beneath the wide ITSM umbrella, you’ll find that data that needs to flow from one system to another requires some human intervention or verification; such as a service desk request for a server restart that cannot be fulfilled because it first requires an authorization in the system.

ITSM Automation is a key functionally to filling in these gaps

So despite the all-inclusive ITSM approach, there are still gaps between data silos, resulting in manual work, or inefficient, slow processes. IT process automation lets you fill these gaps to accelerate processes and improve interaction between data silos. If this sounds too theoretical and farfetched, here are two pragmatic customer examples that illustrate this point.

Filling the Gap – Automate Incident Management

A healthcare organization was using full-time help desk staff to capture alerts from the monitoring system (SolarWinds) and then decide if to open trouble tickets in Service-Now. With IT process automation, the IT team can manage alerts from the SolarWinds to automatically open and update incidents in ServiceNow. The team also added some automated workflows to troubleshoot the problem and then update and close the tickets.

Filling the Gap – Automate Change and Fulfillment

A financial customer operating across multiple geographical sites was struggling with a slow response for service request fulfillment. IT personnel would open a change request in JIRA, but even if the resolution was quite simple,  the response time was still extremely slow. With IT process automation, a request in JIRA (for example, a request to restart a remote service) triggers an automated workflow, which immediately sends an email to the service owner. Upon his approval, the workflow fulfills the request (e.g., restarts the service), and updates the JIRA ticket.

eBook: 10 time consuming tasks you should automate




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




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 to integrate SolarWinds with ServiceNow in less than 5 minutes

A while back, we shared some helpful tips on how IT process automation can be integrated seamlessly with ServiceNow. This program, along with its counterpart SolarWinds, are holding firm as leaders of the pack when it comes to network monitoring and IT service management systems. Ayehu is pleased to announce that you will now have the ability to integrate v  both of these systems with our eyeShare product for even more enhanced alert and service ticket management.

How it works…

Integrate SolarWinds helps to manage the alert management piece of the puzzle, with eyeShare providing a way to close the loop in the process. Incoming alerts from SolarWinds automatically trigger workflows in eyeShare, which are then returned and updated upon successful execution. ServiceNow comes into play on the service ticket end of things. When integrated with eyeShare, incident management becomes more accurate and efficient because reporting, resolution and closure is all automated.

You can view a step-by-step video tutorial on how to integrate eyeShare with both SolarWinds and ServiceNow in less than 5 minutes:

 

The integration of all three systems…

eyeShare extends SolarWinds’ network performance monitoring capabilities using its out-of-the-box, two-way integration. You can execute project workflows triggered by SolarWinds alerts to respond to and resolve issues faster. After integrating these two systems together, you can then also incorporate the next step, which is the ticketing process through ServiceNow. When SolarWinds identifies an incident, an alert is automatically generated and sent to eyeShare. This alert triggers an automated workflow to be activated. Part of the workflow involves verifying if there is, in fact, an incident that warrants an action. If there is, eyeShare will automatically open a ticket in ServiceNow. Once the incident is resolved, the alert will disappear from SolarWinds, the ticket in ServiceNow will be closed and the incident will be closed in eyeShare.

 

Advantages…

By integrating eyeShare with SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor (NPM) and automating cross-platform IT tasks in an easy and intuitive way, you can:

  • Reduce resolution time
  • Cut down on ‘noise’ of alerts
  • Better manage the reporting, escalation and resolution of critical incidents
  • Deploy important changes
  • Ensure fully documented, end-to-end processes

Forward-thinking enterprises are seeing the value in using both SolarWinds and ServiceNow to help better manage the alert and ticket management processes. eyeShare now allows you to get even more out of these solutions by integrating all three systems together. The result is improved performance and a much higher level of service across the board. Ready to maximize your incident management procedure by integrating with SolarWinds and ServiceNow? Get started today!





IT Process Automation Survival Guide





 

Free Webinar: How to Integrate SolarWinds with ServiceNow in 5 minutes

Solarwinds integration webinarSolarWinds and ServiceNow are respectively, two of the most popular network monitoring systems and IT service managment ticketing solutions available on the market.

How to Integrate SolarWinds with ServiceNow?

They’re found everywhere, and often together in the same IT department.  Smart enterprises are integrating these two platforms to create a closed-loop process which allows alerts from SolarWinds to automatically generate tickets in ServiceNow, and upon remediation of the underlying incident, flow back to automatically update SolarWinds. This bi-directional communication capability leverages the best of both platforms, and increases their ROI to the enterprise.

Questions that the webinar will answer:
  • How long does the integration take?
  • What technical skills are needed to do the integration?
  • What kinds of things can I do with SolarWinds & ServiceNow after the integration?

Looking forward to seeing you!

Register Today!

 

 

 

New Integration Capabilities Between Ayehu eyeShare and HP Service Manager


Author: Yaron Levy

HP Service Manager is a service desk product that enables IT professionals to work as a unified organization governed by a consistent set of processes that are put in place to help manage service delivery and support, both quickly and efficiently. It allows users to simplify and consolidate service management functions via a powerful, single point of contact for all core IT processes, including but not limited to incident management. Now you can enhance these already impressive features by integrating your HP Service Manager with Ayehu’s eyeShare product. Here’s how.

The seamless integration of eyeShare IT process automation with HP SM enables the user to create, update and monitor tickets right in HP Service Manager, without any installation or changes to the HP SM server configurations. eyeShare’s agent-less architecture allows IT professionals to automate alerts, manage ticket resolution, and handle ticket closure right within the HP SM dashboard.

How It Works

The plug and play Integration Packs for HP SM use the HP SM Web Service and eyeShare listener to achieve the industry’s only integration method requiring minimum settings to your HP SM system. The eyeShare Integration Pack uses the appropriate web services to enable and configure the target HP SM server, enabling the Integration Pack’s functionality. It’s zero touch configuration that’s simple to implement and a breeze to manage.

Why It’s Beneficial

Without the eyeShare interface, HP SM can be cumbersome, requiring manual data entry and long service desk procedures. By combining the two, you will be able to create a closed-loop, automated process that accelerates incident management and resolution, and executes tasks across systems and environments via standard secured protocols.

With eyeShare for HP SM you can send, retrieve, and query tickets, as well as create, delete, or update tickets. For instance, at the click of a button, you can:

  • Create a New Record – Generate a new ticket in HP SM.
  • Close a Record – Close the specified ticket in HP SM.
  • Update a Record – Update any allowed field provided in the HP SM ticket.
  • Query Records – Return a list of filtered tickets.      

With the integration of eyeShare’s ITPA product with HP’s Service Management system, you’ll end up with a complete, comprehensive and highly efficient all-in-one solution for ticket management. Never worry about another request falling through the cracks or being mishandled again. Integrate your systems today.

Want to see the eyeShare/HP SM integration in action? Check out this handy video tutorial. You can have your systems merged in less than 5 minutes!

To get started right away, download your free trial of eyeShare integration pack for HP Operations Manager.





How to Get Critical Systems Back Online in Minutes




Ayehu eyeShare 4.1 – Automating IT Processes for Excellence and Repeatability

Implementing IT Service Management (ITSM) for Improved Productivity and Quality Achieving ROI through IT Service Automation

Bob Aiello

Review MethodologyFor this review, we implemented Ayehu’s eyeShare 4.1 on a Windows 7 Virtual Machine using VMware Player, Microsoft .Net Framework 3.5 SP1, Microsoft IIS7 and SQL Server 2005. I built several workflows using easy-to-use built-in templates which monitor websites using Apache and Tomcat on Windows and Linux. Several service interruptions were intentionally caused, triggering alert notifications and initiating workflows to resolve the incident. The installation itself was easy, with all dependencies well-documented. Download link http://www.ayehu.com/Downloads/DownloadFreeTrial.html

Introduction

Ayehu’s eyeShare 4.1 is easy to use and rich with features, thus offering a significant value proposition as it provides a clear and detailed approach to implementing IT service management best practices as defined in the ITIL v3 framework. Key features include event monitoring, out-of-the box automated workflows (with over 500 predefined activities) and a robust framework for managing knowledge, communicating more effectively and escalating status and incident response. Advanced features include virtual machine creation and active directory user account management. eyeShare can help companies prepare for ITIL and ISO 9001 certification.

The Value PropositionServices are a means of delivering value to customers by facilitating the outcomes which customers want to achieve, without the ownership of specific costs and risks (ITIL v3).

Intended Audience

IT Ops managers along with an increasing number of Development Managers implementing DevOps methodologies.

Many organizations struggle to implement IT Service Management as a dedicated function to effectively monitor the events and alerts which often precipitate critical incidents that unfortunately can disrupt essential IT services. The Service Desk plays an essential role in helping the organization achieve success as their IT operations staff find themselves unable to keep up with the need to respond to critical incidents including systems outages. When an incident does occur, success depends upon the ability to monitor events and alerts which, in turn, enables the Service Desk to correctly pinpoint the source of the problem, or escalate if the cause is not easily determined. Smart technology managers understand that they need to create processes that are repeatable and also can scale to meet the needs of their organization.

Automating IT Service Incident Response

When serious incidents occur, they can impact the entire organization, resulting in outages that cause unplanned interruptions or significant reduction in quality of an IT service. In the past year, there have been numerous critical incidents at Banks, trading exchanges and other financial services firms that resulted in significant losses, even causing one firm to cease operating as an independent organization. So how do tech-savvy managers address these challenges and ensure that their critical services remain secure and uninterrupted on an ongoing basis? The good news is that there are excellent industry standards and frameworks which can help provide guidance on precisely how to establish effective best practices. 

Industry Best Practices

The itSMF ITIL v3 framework provides guidance on establishing effective functions and processes to support IT Service Management, including both the Service Desk and Incident Management. While the ITIL framework provides excellent guidance, many critics argue that there is not enough descriptive information for managers to fully understand how to implement these industry best practices. eyeShare provides the specific type of guidance that enables managers to establish IT automation in full compliance with the ITIL v3 framework. One of the key objectives of the ITIL framework is to establish a comprehensive knowledge base known as a Service Management Knowledge System (SMKS). This is essential because of the scarcity of subject matter experts and the importance of creating a rich and comprehensive knowledge base.

IT Process Automation with pre-packaged Templates

It is often difficult to know where to start the IT process automation effort. eyeShare enables the Ops team to achieve success by providing a set of easy-to-use templates that define a complete process, from recognizing an event or alert to successfully fixing the issue that has already affected, or could potentially impact, services. This comprehensive approach provides a considerable amount of functionality straight out of the box that will help you address common problems such as Active Directory (AD) user account lockouts and password resets. Having a set of working templates for simple scenarios is especially helpful when addressing the more complex scenarios.

Fortunately, Ayehu eyeShare comes with many workflows already available and an easy-to-use Workflow Designer. 

eyeShare_Workflow_Designer

Figure 1.0 – Workflow Designer Creates Custom Workflows

You can get a lot done using the out-of-the-box workflows but Ayehu eyeShare provides considerably more value and also providing a framework to understand and deal with complex situations where diagnosis and incident management are both difficult and often mission critical.

Taming Complexity

IT process automation is particularly important when dealing with complex technology and complex scenarios. Many technology professionals find it difficult to tackle the trickier scenarios where the risk for errors is greater. But this is exactly where IT process automation can yield the greatest value. Most organizations have a few subject matter experts who can handle the complex scenarios, but what do you do when these highly skilled resources are unavailable? eyeShare helps capture the thought processes involved with diagnosing complex technology problems. This diagnostic effort is almost always an iterative process, and the exciting news with eyeShare is that you can start small and iteratively improve both your diagnosis and your response to handling complex challenges. This effort can result in the development of a valuable knowledge management system.

Building the Knowledge Management System

Most organizations have one or two expert technology professionals who just seem to be able to address and resolve any and all issues – regardless of the challenge. The problem is that these gurus are rarely on duty seven days a week/twenty four hours a day to provide immediate backup in real-time should thorny problems arise.  Successful IT process automation starts by capturing the expertise required to recognize, analyze and respond to events and incidents. One of the most impressive features in eyeShare is its implicit framework which facilitates the gathering of expert knowledge and allows for the iterative development of automated IT processes.

eyeShare_Knowledge_Management

Figure 2.0 – Entering The Knowledge Base Solution

The result is a knowledge base of automated IT processes that are repeatable, traceable and can help the organization scale its IT service management to help the business achieve success. Developing a robust knowledge management system is especially important with regard to addressing the challenges imposed by audit and regulatory requirements.

eyeShare_Knowledgebase

 

Figure 3.0 – Summary from Knowledge Base

Documented procedures helps your team respond to incidents, having such a record can also help to satisfy audit and regulatory requirements.

Passing the IT Audit

Technology organizations are required to establish effective IT controls to comply with audit and regulatory requirements. IT controls are simply rules that require building in the extra steps to minimize mistakes and quickly recover from those that manage to slip through. For IT Service management, establishing this control usually means that every incident must be documented in a ticketing system and that there must be full traceability into every step taken to diagnose and address issues which impact IT services. It also means that you must comply with change management policies within the organization, especially when modifying code and configuration files (usually called configuration items) upon proper authorization. eyeShare helps to enforce IT policy and controls especially when a separation of controls and change control is required by regulatory authorities. IT controls also provide a robust ticketing and history tracking that will satisfy any auditor. In addition, IT controls help meet regulatory requirements and pass IT audits, while simultaneously improving productivity and quality. DevOps is emerging as an important industry best practice to support successful IT automation.

This journey begins with building the tools and processes to detect and respond to incidents.

eyeShare_Studio

Figure 4.0 – eyeShare Studio

Detecting and Responding to Incidents

eyeShare comes with a number of well-designed tools to recognize events and alerts that may indicate a pending interruption in services. This enables your team to diagnose and respond to incidents before they have actually impacted customers. Detecting problems can sometimes be a daunting task and early missteps can lead to costly mistakes or even failure to react quickly enough to a pending incident. IT process automation helps to define the rules and provides a framework for continuously improving the team’s capability to detect and respond to incidents.

eyeShare_Incident_Console

Figure 5.0 – Incident Console

This task often involves processing a considerable amount of information, including multiple sources of events and alert notifications.

eyeShare_Dashboard

Figure 6.0 – Real-Time Process Dashboard

IT process automation provides a reliable framework for handling what can quickly become a classic situation of information overload. Of course, detecting an incident is only the first step. The real test is whether or not the Service Desk can recover once an incident has been detected. Another essential component of a valuable automation process is a robust and efficient capability for communicating with all stakeholders.

Effective Communications Framework

Too often, technology professionals find it difficult to communicate effectively. This can cause serious problems, including but certainly not limited to service interruptions, which ultimately adversely impact your business. eyeShare provides a powerful framework for communicating information – from emails to automated phone alerts.

If initial alerts are not acknowledged, eyeShare workflows can be easily configured to escalate until an authorized support professional acknowledges the incident and begins addressing the problem.

eyeShare_Workflow_Library

Figure 7.0 – Ayehu eyeShare Workflows enhance communication

Industry best practices can come from many sources. Successful business people know that one of the best sources of information is the customer base itself and often proactively solicit feedback about their products and services

Learning Best Practices from the Customer Base

Ayehu taps into this reservoir through its creation of a communications loop wherein customer feedback helps drive new features within the product. This shared lessons environment enables both new and existing customers to benefit from best practices derived by other professionals. eyeShare continues to evolve and address emerging needs to provide effective IT process automation. One of the areas where the tool has extended its feature set to great effect is in provisioning virtual machines (VMs) and Active Directory user accounts.

Provisioning Virtual Machines and AD Users

eyeShare has capabilities to provision virtual machines using predefined configurations. This enables the Service Desk to spin up VMs as part of well-defined recovery procedures. Using eyeShare’s workflow, these steps are clear and detailed, including controls related to Active Directory (AD) user account authentication and authorization where required. eyeShare also provides a well-defined framework for managing active directory issues, such as unlocking AD accounts and resetting AD passwords. One of the most important capabilities needed is to support the discovery of current versions of software configurations. This information is typically recorded in the Configuration Management Database (CMDB), which is often a challenge to keep updated.

Keeping the CMDB updated

eyeShare workflows can be configured to monitor existing server configurations and to report back actual results to a configuration management database (CMDB). This is very important to users who wish to maintain an accurate database of configuration items that may be impacted by changes arising from any incidents. Many organizations implement CMDBs, but then find themselves challenged to keep them updated and accurate. eyeShare workflows can be configured to help with this daunting challenge, thus enabling the organization to maintain an accurate up-to-date CMDB.

Continuously Improve from Lessons Learned

Even the most successful IT teams make mistakes. eyeShare enables your team to learn from past mistakes and implement additional controls to recognize events and alerts that may lead to incidents causing service interruptions. Successful teams should never make the same mistake twice and proper IT process automation frameworks allow you to use each incident as a learning experience that leads to tighter controls and more reliable systems!

DevOps and IT Automation

DevOps is bringing an exciting new set of industry best practices that help significantly improve IT process automation. This focus on quality integration of functions includes improved communication and pushing many best practices to be implemented earlier in the lifecycle. The rise of DevOps encourages IT professionals to develop their controls and automation during the development effort, an emphasis which significantly improves the development process itself and also results in a more mature IT service model. DevOps embraces IT process automation to support development and QA testing, instead of waiting until the application is ready for production. The result is a more productive development lifecycle and mature IT processes and process automation. For many efforts, although the rewards are obvious, the toughest part is just getting the ball rolling.

Summary

My experience in giving eyeShare a test run was that it was easy to use and I was creating workflows within the first hour. The product comes with many templates and predefined common activities which makes getting started very easy. This tool can help your organization harness your existing knowledge base so that you can establish effective IT process automation. If you want your organization to maintain IT Services that are highly available and support your business then you should take a close look at Ayehu eyeShare for IT Process Automation.

Bob Aiello is a consultant, editor-in-chief for CM Crossroads, and the author of Configuration Management Best Practices: Practical Methods that Work in the Real World, Addison-Wesley Professional (http://cmbestpractices.com). Mr. Aiello has more than twenty-five years’ experience as a technical manager in several top NYC financial services firms where he had company-wide responsibility for CM, often providing hands-on technical support for enterprise source code management tools, SOX/Cobit compliance, build engineering, continuous integration, and automated application deployment(DevOps). Bob has served as the vice chair of the IEEE 828 Standards working group (CM Planning) and is a member of the IEEE Software and Systems Engineering Standards Committee (S2ESC) management board. Mr. Aiello holds a Masters in industrial psychology from NYU and a B.S. in computer science and math from Hofstra University. You may contact Mr. Aiello at bob.aiello@ieee.org, link with him at http://www.linkedin.com/in/bobaiello  or visit his corporate website http://yellowspiderinc.com and follow him on twitter @bobaiello, @cmbestpractices.

 

Integrating ServiceNow ITSM with IT Process Automation

We’re excited to release our new integration between eyeShare IT Process Automation software and ServiceNow ITSM

If you’re familiar with the ServiceNow ITSM ticketing system, you know about incident management. Well, the eyeShare integration adds automation to the reporting, resolution, and closure of incidents. Instead of manual data entry and service desk procedures, you create an automated process that accelerates incident management and resolution.

Integrating ServiceNow ITSM with IT Process Automation

Here’s a brief description of how the integration with ServiceNow works:

  • eyeShare receives alerts from monitoring system such as SolarWinds, Nagios, SCOM 2012 etc., and then automatically opens tickets within ServiceNow.
  • eyeShare executes automated workflows to troubleshoot the problem, and then updates the incident status or if necessary it will remediate the problem and close the ticket in ServiceNow after successful closure.

Want to learn more? Take a look at our ServiceNow integration and watch the video below to see the 3-way integration example between eyeShare, SolarWinds, and the ServiceNow ticketing system.



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




Network Operation Center (NOC) Best Practices – Part 2: Knowledge & skills

 

This is the second of our 3 parts blog series discussing Network Operation Centers (NOC’s) best practices. The first post was dedicated to NOC tools. This part is dedicated to knowledge and skills. By ‘knowledge and skills’ we do not mean the obvious technical knowledge, network ‘know-how’  your team members must hold in order to run day-to-day operations, but rather –

 

How you can ensure your team’s skills are used to their best potential, and how to keep those skills up to date over time.


Cyber Security Best Practices: Assembling the Right Team

Clearly define roles

Definition of roles may vary between data centers and will depend on team size, the IT environment and tasks. Still, there should be a clear distinction between the roles and responsibilities of operators vs. shift supervisors in the NOC.

Why does it matter?

Mainly matters because of Decisions making. Without clearly defined roles and responsibilities, a disagreement between operators may lead to late decisions and actions, or to no decisions taken at all. This may affect customers, critical business services, and urgent requests during off hours.

It should be clearly defined, therefore, that a shift manager makes the final decisions.

Tasks division

Another potential problem caused by a lack of role definition is the division of tasks between operators and the shift leader.

A shift manager should be responsible for: prioritizing tasks, assigning work to operators based on their skills, verifying that tickets are opened properly and that relevant personnel are notified when required, escalating problems, communicating with management during important NOC events, sending notifications to the entire organization, preparing reports, and making critical decisions that impact many services, such as shutting down the data center in case of an emergency.

Operators, on the other hand, are responsible for handling the technical aspect of incidents – either independently or by escalating to another team member with the required skills. Operators are also responsible for following up and keep tickets up to date.

While it might sound as if operators lack independence and responsibility, this is not the case. When faced with technical challenges, operators’ input and skills are probably the most critical for resolution and smooth NOC operation. Operators provide additional insights into problems, and can provide creative solutions when the standard procedures fail to work.

Invest in orientation program for new NOC employees

How often have you started a new job, without receiving any orientation, mentoring or guided training?

Failing to provide proper training to new NOC operators always has consequences. A new NOC operator may not know where to find a procedure or how to execute it; be confused about who should handle a task – the NOC, service desk, or higher level of support; or in a more severe case, take a decision that causes equipment damage or results in downtime of critical business services.

Therefore, an extensive training program should be put in place for new NOC employees. This is definitely a challenge, considering the lack of resources, particularly in small NOCs. Ideally, such a program would consist of one week of classroom training followed by three weeks of hands-on training under the supervision of a designated trainer.

A new employee should only be trained by an experienced member of the NOC, preferably a shift leader. The trainer should be released from all duties during the entire period of the training – in order to ensure that the training does not gradually fade between all the urgent shift tasks.

The training program should be updated on an ongoing basis, and should include topics such as required users and permissions, technical knowledge, known problems, troubleshooting, teams and important contacts.

 

Communication and collaboration

Within your Organization

Establishing a solid communication flow between NOC members and other IT teams has many advantages. It propels professional growth, provides opportunities for advancement in the organization, and makes it easier to approach other teams when requiring assistance.  But most importantly – it allows NOC personnel to see the larger picture. NOC members that are aware of projects, services and customers’ needs, simply provide better service.

A designated member of the NOC should attend weekly change management meetings. That person should communicate any issues or upcoming activities, such as planned downtime, to the rest of the team.

Define NOC members as focal points for important IT areas, such as NT, UNIX, Network, or a specific project is another good practice. These members should attend the meetings of the relevant teams, deliver new information and knowledge to the rest of the NOC, and handle specific professional challenges.

Within NOC Team

Another important form of communication is within the NOC team itself. There are clear advantages to having a strong connection and collaboration between NOC team members. Members are more willing to help each other, information is shared more easily, and the general atmosphere encourages collaboration when addressing problems, as opposed to an individualized approach.

Team communication is a challenge when the NOC team is geographically spread out or located in different countries. Because cultural and language differences can cause confusion and misunderstandings, spending efforts on building team communication and collaboration are even more critical.

Which additional skills and knowledge would you recommend for a NOC?

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