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It’s the End of the IT Service Desk as We Know it (and We Feel Fine)

Ayehu and Rulai team up to turn chatbots into workbots, enabling the self-driving IT service desk

San Jose, CA and Campbell, CA — October 29, 2019 — Ayehu, a leader in intelligent automation, and Rulai today announced a partnership to deliver a self-driving IT issue resolution offering powered by AI. The Rulai integration goes beyond the limitations of traditional chatbot communication capabilities to deliver virtual service agents (VSAs) that complete IT service desk work.

“Let’s face it, people hate calling the service desk, experiencing long waits on IVR and sometimes waiting hours just to get a password reset,” said Gabby Nizri, CEO of Ayehu. “Ayehu and Rulai are disrupting the entire way the IT service desk works in enterprises today. Using the integrated solution, we eliminate the need for employees to call and wait for IT to solve their problems. Our chatbot VSA will perform these tasks, increasing productivity and employee satisfaction.”

IT service desk operation is extremely resource-intensive, with as much as 85% of the cost being labor according to some studies. Most of this work involves menial, repetitive tasks, that could easily be automated. This has led to the rise of chatbots, which can reduce the amount of human interaction considerably.

However, chatbots are often limited to basic interactions such as pointing the user to non-actionable static information pages, or at best, creating a well-formatted request that is then sent to a human operator for execution. Most chatbots use rule-based decision trees, have poor natural language understanding and limited ability to manage an ongoing dialog or execute a task. As a result, they are easily confused, and customers can become frustrated.

To address both limitations, Ayehu and Rulai have joined forces to create a solution that actually does the work.

Combining Rulai’s Level 3 Conversational Computing Platform with Ayehu’s intelligent automation engine, companies can turn chatbots into a Virtual Service Agent (VSA) – a workbot that has the ability to not only receive and communicate requests but complete and resolve them as well.  

Rulai’s platform allows companies to build AI-based conversational chatbots that can manage non-linear dialogue, and that require no code to develop or deploy. Ayehu provides an intelligent automation engine that receives user intent from Rulai, and acts on it. No code is required to build workflows that integrate with the widest range of applications, changing the IT service desk experience for the end-users.

“Improving employee experience has become one of the top goals for CIOs,” said Marc Vanlerberghe, CEO of Rulai. “We live in an instant gratification economy. Like never before, employees demand fast, frictionless engagement with companies. The combination of our Level 3 Conversational Computing Platform and Ayehu’s intelligent automation platform creates a delightful and frictionless IT experience, available 24/7, 365 days a year, vastly improving the employee experience.”

By running the service desk autonomously customers can achieve as much as a 35% cost reduction, while reducing MTTR by 98% which makes the end user satisfaction higher than ever.

Ayehu’s Rulai integration is available immediately. Please contact sdr@ayehu.com.

For more information, register for the upcoming automation webinar on November 13th: 

Rulai and Ayehu Present: How to Create a Self-Driving IT Service Desk. Register here:

https://info.ayehu.com/how-ai-can-reduce-service-desk-ticket-costs-from-20-to-4

About Ayehu

Ayehu’s AI-powered automation and orchestration platform is a force multiplier for IT and security operations, helping enterprises save time on manual and repetitive tasks, accelerate mean time to resolution, and maintain greater control over IT infrastructure. Trusted by hundreds of major enterprises and leading technology solution and service partners, Ayehu supports thousands of automated processes across the globe. For more information, please visit www.ayehu.com and the company blog.  Follow Ayehu on Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Rulai

Rulai is a new Enterprise Conversational Computing Platform provider. Rooted in academia, the founding team has a combined 200 years of experience in AI research, published over 400 research papers and filed over 80 patents in advanced AI-based dialog management. It is the only SaaS platform in the market capable of supporting business teams in building Level 3 Virtual Assistants .

Enterprises in banking, insurance, retail, telco, and life sciences increasingly rely on human-centered automation to augment the work of customer service agents, as well as increase customer self service capabilities across sales and support. Rulai’s easy-to-use platform allows business users to create and evolve virtual assistants with support from IT. Rulai has been recognized by Gartner, Forrester, and Bloomberg, and was named to the Forbes 2019 AI 50 list.

How to Create an Outstanding Experience for Your Cherwell ITSM Users [Webinar Recap]

on-demand-webinar-cherwell-ayehu-present-how-to-create-an-outstanding-experience-for-your-itsm-users

Author: Guy Nadivi and Ayla Anderson, Technology Alliances Manager, Cherwell

The discipline of ITSM has undergone significant evolution since its earliest incarnations. Today with the drive towards automation, increasing use of artificial intelligence, and the push for digital transformation, ITSM occupies an increasingly high-profile position for many organizations. This is especially true as many enterprises are seeking competitive advantages in their customer experience and service quality offerings.

With that in mind, we’ve partnered with Cherwell, an increasingly common ITSM platform choice for many of our customers, to demonstrate how to create an outstanding experience for Cherwell ITSM users.

According to Gartner, it isn’t too surprising why Cherwell’s popularity is on the rise. In a recent report they wrote that “Cherwell continues to enjoy mind share among Gartner clients looking at intermediate ITSM tools. Cherwell was the second most frequently shortlisted vendor by Gartner clients in 2018.” BTW – Cherwell held that same distinction in 2017 as well. So Gartner is seeing the same increase in demand for Cherwell that we’ve been seeing.

Gartner has also identified Cherwell as a “Challenger” in its most recent Magic Quadrant for ITSM tools which was just published in August of 2019. So there seems to be a lot of momentum building in the ITSM market for Cherwell.

Since Ayehu is very customer-driven, we give priority to developing new features and new integrations based on what our customers are asking for the most. As a result, we’ve added some Cherwell-specific functionality lately, and we think that many Cherwell customers will be intrigued to see how much more they can do with the platform, once it’s integrated with Ayehu.

For those not familiar with their ITSM solution, Cherwell transforms the way businesses deliver service. Its technology provides a centralized system through which all services can be managed and monitored. This gives unprecedented visibility to all processes, helping teams measure and manage services more effectively and efficiently.

Along with nearly 100 technology alliance partners (like Ayehu), Cherwell aims to help customers modernize their IT service management. Today, Modern Service Management is foundational to transforming the experience of employees (ITSM users).

Before explaining why though, let’s define Modern Service Management (MSM).

MSM is the evolution from legacy ITSM practices with minimal impacts on the business and its employees, to a philosophy in practice that leverages self-service, automation, visibility and agility to generate business outcomes and improve employee experiences.

The visual below from Forrester Research shows that in the past, automation associated with digital initiatives focused on cost reduction. More recently however, the focus has been around customer experience (CX), as more companies take a customer-centric approach.

Forrester Research

By 2020 the focus will shift to accelerating transformation with both Employee Experience (EX) and CX automation initiatives — because employee experience has a direct correlation to employee happiness and efficiency, which in turn impacts customer experience. As businesses continue moving up the ladder of ITSM maturity, speed and efficiency won’t just be critical for customer facing apps, but will also be expected across the entire organization.

So what’s stopping businesses from transforming their service experiences? In general, they lack a centralized way to architect and automate end-to-end processes across multiple services, systems, and teams. The four primary barriers to achieving this transformation include:

  1. Disparate Systems

Individual services and departments within a business often have their own systems and tools. This not only impacts employee experience, but it impedes businesses from monitoring the performance of services, and cross-functional processes, due to lack of centralized visibility across all systems.

  1. Fragmented Data

Since many services run on legacy databases, integrating data sets across services can be difficult and time consuming.

  1. Manual Service Steps

Most businesses struggle to integrate data, systems, and processes, leaving many teams stuck in an endless cycle of using antiquated systems to get their work done. Whether they’re responding to service requests, onboarding a new employee, or managing the maintenance logs of a fleet of vehicles — this creates inefficiencies and challenges in keeping up with service requests.

  1. Resource Intensiveness Required to Transform Digital Operations

Often times architecting new services, and evolving existing processes, requires teams of developers to write code. This is both time consuming and expensive.

This is where Cherwell integrated with Ayehu automation can help businesses.

If you’re currently a Cherwell customer or have it as one of your shortlisted vendors, then you may already be asking yourself whether you should add automation to Cherwell. And if you do add automation, what kind of boost would it give to your investment in Cherwell?

To determine that, it helps to look at some costs associated with helpdesk operations.

Based on Ayehu’s research conducting standard helpdesk data assessments for organizations, we’ve discovered that the 5 largest categories of incidents represent as much as 98% of their total tickets!

When those incident numbers get sliced and diced to see how many get handled by Tier 1 vs Tier 2 support, they often reveal a surprise.

As much as 70% of Tier 1 incidents get escalated to Tier 2!

That means that if you can somehow focus your automation efforts on just the 5 largest categories of incidents while they’re still in tier 1, automation is going to provide a very big payoff, not just at your service desk but in your customer satisfaction metrics as well.

Now, let’s take a closer look at what kind of a return we’re looking at from automation.

If we go real conservative by estimating that it costs $20 to remediate a ticket, then multiply that by the number of tickets your helpdesk handles, it’s likely going to add up to some serious money your organization is spending on manually resolving these incidents. (BTW – $20 per ticket is a rough number calculated by Jeff Rumburg of MetricNet for 2017)

Now I’m going to shock some of you. If you automate incident resolution, your cost per ticket drops down to $4, and that’s also playing it conservative.  Applying automation to incident resolution has a dramatic effect on your costs, so if you’re looking for a high-impact way to bring savings to your organization’s ITSM costs, automation is a pretty good way to go.

In case you’re wondering what kinds of specific incidents you would likely be automating with Ayehu, here are some of the most common processes we see:

  • Application/Service/Process/Server Restarts
  • Monitoring Application Log Files, looking for specific keywords, and taking some action based on what’s found
  • Low disk space remediation (always a popular thing to automate)
  • Running SQL Queries, perhaps at 3am then compiling the results into a report which gets emailed to appropriate personnel
  • Onboarding and offboarding employees (another popular one)

And there are many, many more tasks the service desk will want to automate for itself. Now how about the kinds of processes we can push out to end users to remediate in a self-help paradigm?

  • Password Resets or Account Unlocks are an obvious one
  • How about letting users provision their own VM’s whether it’s VMware, AWS, Azure, or Hyper-V?
  • And how about letting them modify or resize a VM’s memory or disk space without any help from the service desk?

When you think about it, there’s really no limit to the kinds of things you can automate, once you’ve integrated Ayehu with Cherwell.

Cherwell & Ayehu Present: How to Create an Outstanding Experience for Your ITSM Users

The Future of MSPs: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Author: Guy Nadivi, Sr. Marketing Director, Ayehu

Leading analyst firms are forecasting a lot of turmoil ahead for MSPs, so I thought it would be well worth exploring not only the ramifications of this expected market upheaval, but also how smart MSPs can actually take advantage of it.

Are any of you fans of old westerns?  I’m personally a big fan of movies about the old west, an interesting time in American history.  Western cinema, as many of you already know, often depicts harsh wilderness landscapes where people end up in a shootout, fighting over something that’s important to them.

One of the best examples of Western cinema is a classic movie called “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly”.  Maybe some of you have seen it.  Back when I still purchased DVDs, this was actually the first DVD I ever bought. 

This movie title, “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is an apt metaphor I’m going to use to help me describe the current situation in the MSP market, where much like the old west, many MSPs find themselves in a shootout over something very important – market share.

Let’s start with ‘The Good.’  According to MarketsAndMarkets, a research and advisory firm focused on B2B markets, “The managed services market is expected to grow from over $180 billion in 2018 to $282.0 billion by 2023, a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 9.3%.”  That’s a pretty good market to be in.

Here’s the ‘The Bad,’ though. According to Gartner, “…as competition heightens, service providers will be forced to aggressively roll automation out across their client base and service lines because, if an existing provider is slow in implementing automation, this will leave that account quite vulnerable to competition, proposing a strong artificial intelligence proposition with the possibility of a vendor switch.”  In other words, Gartner’s saying that MSPs who don’t start introducing automation & AI to their customers, are now at risk of being left by that customer for another MSP that does.

And here’s ‘The Ugly.’ Again this is from Gartner and please note, this is advice they’re giving to sourcing executives at enterprises that hire MSPs.  “Understand the provider’s service capabilities, product development plans and AI roadmap to be able to negotiate effective reductions associated with new technology. Otherwise, consider moving away from the service provider if investments are lacking, lagging, or the service provider is not actively sharing the benefits with the client.” 

That last part might require a bit of explanation. Gartner is telling customers that they should EXPECT their MSP vendor to start automating their service offerings, and begin sharing the benefits of automation back to the client in the form of reduced charges. If an MSP doesn’t do that, they’re explicitly telling sourcing executives to go find another MSP that does!

Some of you might now be realizing seeing why I’m using the old west as a metaphor for the MSP market.  There’s a big shootout coming among MSPs that don’t start rolling out effective automation for their clients.

Here’s another one. The Good – according to Gartner, “Many of the large players in the Gartner Magic Quadrants that address IT infrastructure have rolled out intelligent automation that provides for effective management of the data center, end user, service desk and applications. The rollouts have been in the operations area and have reported improvements of 30% cost savings with 30% gain in service quality.”  So the organizations that have started automating are seeing significant benefits, meaning that automation is working really well.

But, also according to Gartner, here’s the The Bad – “Reconcile with the fact that revenue cannibalization is bound to happen in the near term because of automation. Instead, prepare to divert cost savings into fueling new projects. This is the best way to protect your turf.”  Interpretation: Gartner is telling MSPs that automation will cause unavoidable revenue losses in the immediate future, but your best bet for safeguarding market share is to invest in new automation projects now.

Finally, here’s The Ugly, and this too is from Gartner, “Use forward pricing to reap the benefits of artificial intelligence in your infrastructure outsourcing deal.” BTW – this is another Gartner recommendation specifically addressed to sourcing executives.  They’re advising them to incorporate the expected savings of artificial intelligence, and by inference automation, into their outsourcing deals REGARDLESS of whether or not their infrastructure provider offers it.  Meaning that whether or not automation and AI are part of an MSP’s strategy, the market will be expecting it to be, and that will put further downward pricing pressure on a business with already thinning margins.

Let’s do just one more of these.

The Good.  Gartner says, “Those providers that invest early will see their business flourish for a few years, and then will land in a position where the business around those services is underpinned by a positive and sustainable margin performance. Yes, it will be transactional and maybe per quantity in nature, but it will be nevertheless sustainable.”  So if you make the investment in automation now, you will reap the profitable benefits down the road in a SUSTAINABLE way.

Here’s The Bad.  “Those that fail to invest will see quick revenue erosion, followed by margin erosion, because they will be forced to lower prices without being able to enjoy the reduction in delivery costs that automation can offer.”  So again, they’re saying the market is expecting MSPs to provide automation, and will also expect lower pricing going forward, regardless of whether or not the MSP even offers automation.

And here’s the last Ugly.  “It will not be a question of getting to ‘smaller but sustainable,’ but a case of exiting with a strong focus on damage limitation.”  This advice from Gartner basically boils down to a warning that if you’re not going to start using and offering automation soon, you should consider getting out now while you can still get some value for your business.  Pretty dire warning!

Now that you’ve heard what the experts think, if you’re an MSP is it time to hit the panic button? 

NO!  Don’t panic.  Not yet anyways.

Let’s return again to our old west theme.  Back in those days when people went to the local saloon to enjoy some recreational fun, everybody played the same card game just like they always did. 

In modern times, up until recently, the game was always the same for MSPs too.  Now though, the MSP game is changing.

In fact, thanks to automation and other technologies, the MSP game is changing dramatically and everybody is being dealt a new hand. If you’re an MSP, your new hand in this new game means a new opportunity to increase market share!

Just to be absolutely clear about the changing game for MSPs, let me illustrate what exactly is changing.

Traditionally, the MSP game was about filling up massive cubicle farms to provide services with inexpensive labor.  Unfortunately, that’s just not sustainable anymore. Even if you’ve got a supply of the absolute cheapest labor and you can double up people in each cubicle, there’s one inconvenient fact that can’t be escaped – people don’t scale very well.

That includes even your very best data center workers, who can only handle so much. Today, analysts and thought leaders are telling companies to walk away from these kinds of outsourced deals, no matter how cheap your labor is.

And why are they recommending that?

Because the new reality is that digital labor is MUCH cheaper.  Not only that, but digital labor takes no vacations, or coffee breaks, or sick time, and it never has mood swings.  It’s always available, 24/7/365 and unlike people, it is extremely scalable.

The new game for MSPs is Automation-as-a-Service.  Leveraging digital labor to provide a much better offering, and doing it for even less than before.

Remember, in this new game MSPs are expected to play, Gartner and others are telling your customers that what they should demand from you is more quality, increased speed, and better results, all at a lower cost.  The only practical way an MSP can do that is with automation.

Back once more to the old west.  One of the really great stories in the history of that time period was the gold rush.  The gold rush of the 1800’s made a lot of MSPs very rich.  Yes, you read that right – MSPs.  Except back then, M.S.P. stood for Mineral Searching Prospectors.  (Alright, maybe I’m the only one who thought that was kind of funny.)

Today’s gold rush doesn’t involve any shovels or pick axes or specialized pans for sifting gold nuggets out of rivers.  That’s because today’s gold rush is in automation powered by AI.  Ayehu predicts that between now and about the middle of this century, a lot of MSP’s are going to get very rich by using an enterprise automation platform to provide Automation-as-a-Service for their customers.

Before diving into that though, I’d like to talk just a little bit about open source automation.

If there’s one character from the old west that best epitomizes the idea of working with open source software, it’s undoubtedly the blacksmith.  Everybody knows what blacksmiths did back then, right?  They took a piece of metal, and forged it into something like a horseshoe.  And by forging I mean they did a lot of hammering and a lot of sweating.

That’s exactly what you’re going to do with open source software.  Except instead of hammering, you’re going to be doing a lot of coding, but you’ll still probably do a lot of sweating too, just like the blacksmith. 

Maybe that’s appealing on some level.  Build it yourself and take full pride in forging an automation tool that does exactly what you want.  Except the problem there is that while you’re hammering away on your keyboard just to build the automation tool itself, your competitors are using commercial-grade automation software like Ayehu that works right out-of-the-box and is fully supported by the publisher.  That means your competitors are orchestrating actual workflows for their customers that are up & running quickly and in production to start earning those customers an ROI.  The best way to stay competitive as an MSP is to go with the tool that’s already proven itself and can earn a fast ROI for your customers.

Remember – generally speaking, your customers aren’t worrying about the plumbing.  They just want you to give them hot water.

Let’s discuss a couple of use case examples.

The first use case is a major international financial services firm, with what can only be described as a colossal environment:

  • They have over 60,000 servers
  • They also have over 10,000 database instances
  • And they have nearly 500 supported applications!

Their challenge was the high cost of monitoring and maintaining this massive infrastructure.

Using Ayehu’s automation platform, they realized:

  • A 40% improvement in MTTR
  • A 90% improvement in response times
  • And together, those two yielded a 15% cost savings in year one!

Not a bad return on investment, and a huge win for our MSP partner that delivered these results to this customer.

The second use case involves one of the largest department stores in America.  Not quite as big as the previous company, but pretty big nonetheless.  Their infrastructure included:

  • About 20,000 servers
  • Nearly 6,500 database instances
  • And all this was spread out between 2 different datacenters!

Their staff was spending a lot of time and effort on manual, repetitive tasks that were impacting their resolution times.

After Ayehu was deployed, they experienced:

  • a 95% improvement in MTTR
  • a 1,500 man-hour reduction of effort in Year 1
  • and a savings of nearly half-a-million dollars!

Quite an impact.

The final case study I want to share with you shows the power of automation in reducing the cost of operations for the MSP.  This case study comes from a global MSP partner of ours who’s among the largest $ multi-billion MSPs.

They were looking to reduce operations costs and improve their margins at one particular client where they had a multi-year contract with a project value of $11.6 Million per year.

After implementing Ayehu at that customer to automate numerous repetitive manual processes, their operational costs steadily dropped each year until by the 3rd year of their engagement, they were saving 35% in costs using Ayehu automation, all of which dropped straight to their bottom line.

And thanks to Ayehu, they were able to deliver a 30% FTE optimization while increasing their SLA performance by 98%.

As you can imagine, now that this MSP has mastered our automation platform with such success, they’re going to be aggressively competitive in the market place.

Speaking of SLAs, I should also point out that incorporating automation into your managed service practice will allow you to say goodbye to SLA penalties and missed targets. As previously mentioned, automation never takes a break, and it also remediates incidents much faster.  That more than anything will give your MSP practice its best shot at hitting its KPI goals. Typically with automation, you can reduce ticket-handling time for incidents down to seconds.

BTW – Since offering automation will alter your cost structure as it did for the MSP above, it will open up many more opportunities for you that were not previously economically profitable.  Automation will also enable you to generate more business opportunities from your existing customer base.  On average, our partners tell us Ayehu has increased their MSP wins by about 10x.

Q:          What’s your onboarding program like & how long does it take?

A:           Onboarding generally takes 6 weeks.  During that time we’ll put your team through training, help you get your own Ayehu environment up & running, and hold your hands helping you build your first workflows.  We’ll also help you build POC’s with your clients, and enable your success however we can.

Q:          What’s the difference between your solution and a freebie Open Source Software download?

A:           It depends on what open source software you’re referring to.  In general though, open source software means you’re doing all the heavy lifting of building out your own tool.  So be prepared to do a LOT of coding.  We’ve invested over a decade of man hours building out the Ayehu automation platform and it’s ready to go out-of-the-box right now without any coding.  The first question you should ask yourself then is, would you rather invest your time & effort reinventing the wheel, or using the wheel that’s been on the market for over 10 years to start adding value to your clients from day one?

Q:          How should an MSP determine when to use Ayehu versus some other automation tool?

A:           That depends on what it is you want to automate.  There’s a lot of different automation tools out there with a lot of different specialties.  Ayehu has a very specific focus on automating IT & Security operations.  We’ve been doing it a long time, we’re very good at it, and we’d be a great choice for any MSP looking for that kind of solution.

Q:          What is the minimum time to learn Ayehu?

A:           Very minimal.  Usually hours, but no more than a couple days.  We like to tell people all the time – take your lowest-level SysAdmin (even an intern), preferably someone who’s never written a single line of code in their lives, and let us train them for just one day.  Afterwards, they’ll probably end up being the most productive person on your IT staff.  Ayehu is very easy to learn.  If you’ve ever used a tool like Visio to build something like an org chart, then you’re already pretty well qualified to build automated workflows with Ayehu.

Q:          What makes Ayehu a platform that MSPs should use, compared to other automation tools?

A:           The Ayehu automation platform is actually designed with MSPs in mind.  So that means features like:

  • Being SaaS-ready which allows an MSP to create their own automation cloud, and since it’s also multi-tenant that means you can partition the same automation cloud out to different customers while managing it all centrally from one instance.  We deliberately made Ayehu an enabler for MSPs that makes it easy for them to offer Automation-as-a-Service.
  • Providing white labeling, so you can rebrand Ayehu as your own tool, which is a great way to reinforce brand loyalty with your customers.

•            Offering a strong partner enablement service that gets you up & running quickly so you can start delivering value to your clients ASAP & begin conquering more market share with automation.

Q:          You mentioned that Ayehu includes AI, but you didn’t give much detail.  Can you please elaborate on what Ayehu’s AI capabilities are?

A:           Ayehu is partnered with SRI International, formerly known as the Stanford Research Institute.  SRI holds something like 4,000 patents worldwide including for things like the original mouse & SIRI, Apple’s conversational AI.  SRI is Ayehu’s design partner, and they’ve designed a lot of the really cool stuff like Machine Learning-driven Dynamic Activity Suggestions.  That means that based on the workflow you’re building, our system provides a real-time recommendation on the next best activity to incorporate into your workflow, based on what we know has worked best for other customers building similar workflows.  That’s been available since last year.

              Another cool AI/ML feature is Dynamic Rule Suggestions, to augment the current static rules we have for triggering workflows. What that means is that when an incident comes into Ayehu, if we have a static rule that matches its profile, then that rule will kick off a workflow to remediate that incident.  Dynamic Rule Suggestions will allow us to suggest rules for incidents that don’t match any rules so they don’t just fall through the cracks.

              By next year, we’ll be offering Dynamic Workflow Suggestions. This is exactly what it sounds like, namely we’re going to be offering real-time suggestions of best practice workflows and workflows that are industry-specific, based on a little understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish.

              So there’s a lot of very cool AI & machine learning features baked into the product and we believe it’s all going to give our customers an insurmountable market advantage.

To see this information in action, click the image below to watch the on-demand webinar.

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How to Automate Incident Response for Splunk Alerts in Minutes

Author: Guy Nadivi, Sr. Director of Marketing, Ayehu

Let’s talk about Splunk, a market leader in the Security Event Information Management (SEIM) market. BTW – You can always tell who the market leader is in any category when its competition starts touting itself as the ones who will eradicate that company. Recently, one of Splunk’s competitors described themselves as “Splunk Killers”, reaffirming that Splunk is indeed at the head of its class in that segment.

In Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for the SIEM market, Splunk appears higher than everyone else and further to the right than anybody but IBM. What this means is they excel above all other competitors on the y-axis of the Magic Quadrant, which is a measurement of “Ability to Execute.” On the x-axis of the Magic Quadrant, which measures “Completeness of Vision,” they exceed almost everyone except IBM.

Score highly on those two measurements, and Gartner considers you a Market Leader.

Market share is another key indicator of market leadership, and here Splunk is ranked No. 2 with 13.7% market share. Only IBM has a larger market share when it comes to SEIM’s.

Thanks to Splunk’s January 31, 2019 Form 10-K filing with the SEC, we also know they have 17,500 customers in more than 130 countries, including 90% of the Fortune 100. Another clear indication that they are a leader in this market.

With a market position like that, it seems worthwhile to talk about how to quickly and easily automate incident remediation for Splunk alerts in minutes.

As many people know, Splunk produces software for capturing, indexing, correlating, searching, monitoring, and analyzing machine-generated big data.

Some sources of that data include logs for Windows events, Web servers, and live applications, as well as network feeds, metrics, change monitoring, message queues, archive files, and so on.

Generally, these data sources can be categorized as:

  • Files and directories
  • Network events
  • Windows sources
  • And the catch-all category of “other sources”

There are a number of outputs and outcomes Splunk generates from this data, including:

  • Analyzing system performance
  • Troubleshooting failure conditions
  • Monitoring business metrics
  • Creating dashboards to visualize and analyze results
  • And of course storing and retrieving data for later use

That’s A LOT of data, and the more systems Splunk monitors, and the more those systems grow, the greater the volume of machine data that gets generated. This is becoming a problem because IT and security operations are getting inundated by all this data, and not just from Splunk, but other systems as well, though Splunk generates a big chunk of this.

Every time there’s an incident, an event, a threshold being crossed, etc. new data is generated, adding to the surge already flooding over IT and Security Operations. And it’s only getting worse.

Ultimately, it’s people who have to deal with all this data, and the problem is, (as we often say) people don’t scale very well.

Even the very best data center workers in NOCs and SOCs can only handle so much. At some point – and that point is pretty much right now – automation has to take on a greater share of the task burden all this growth in data is necessitating.

Why automation? Because people may not scale very well, but automation DOES! And if you’re in one of these overwhelmed data centers, that should be music to your ears.

Here are just a few of the ways automation can bring relief to NOCs and SOCs drowning in Splunk data:

Triggering Workflows

Let’s say there’s been an event detected of a corporate website being hacked and defaced. This event can trigger an automatic workflow that quickly restores a website to its pre-defacement state. In fact, an automation platform like Ayehu can do this MUCH quicker than humans could do manually once they got the alert. Restoring the website automatically and almost instantaneously minimizes the damage to corporate reputation, not to mention the threat to job security because the defacement happened in the first place.

Remediating Incidents

In addition to the example of remediating a website defacement incident, let’s consider a situation where Splunk generates an alert about a specific machine due to some observed suspicious activity. Ayehu can remotely lock it either automatically or at the SOC analyst’s manual command, to mitigate any damage until a hands-on inspection can take place. Furthermore, this automated incident remediation workflow could also include doing things like deactivating that user’s Active Directory credentials, turning off their card key’s ability to swipe in or out of a building, etc.

Data Enrichment

This task is well known to anyone who’s ever had to perform cybersecurity forensics during and after an incident. It involves aggregating all the information a SOC analyst needs to make an informed decision about what’s happening in real-time, or what happened as part of an after-incident evaluation. This can be a laborious manual task, and certainly one that’s difficult to script out.

If your automation platform easily integrates with just about anything in a typical, heterogeneous IT environment, however, then it can gather this critical information very rapidly as well as add more precise context to it about the nature of the incident. This will greatly reduce time-to-decision-making for SOC analysts, which is vital when, for example, you’re watching a ransomware virus swiftly encrypt your enterprise data and you need to decide on a course of action fast.

Opening Tickets

Just about every data center uses an ITSM platform like ServiceNow, JIRA, BMC Remedy, or one of many others. It’s very important to document what steps were taken to remediate an incident or conduct a cybersecurity forensics investigation. SOC analysts are pretty overwhelmed these days, and often don’t have the time to do that. When they do have time, they often don’t document as thoroughly as necessary in order to provide a complete picture of what transpired.

An automation tool like Ayehu can do this much quicker, and in real-time during workflow execution, so everything is properly documented, and nothing slips through the cracks.

Now let’s walk through the flow of events that uses Splunk data and alerts as triggers for actions.

We call this flow a closed-loop, automated incident management process. It starts out with Ayehu NG creating an integration between Splunk and whatever IT Service Management or help desk platform you’re using, be it ServiceNow, JIRA, BMC Remedy, etc.

When Splunk generates an alert or any kind of data you want to act upon, Ayehu intercepts it via the integration point. It will then parse it to determine the underlying incident, and launch the appropriate workflow for that situation, whether it be remediating that specific underlying incident, gathering information for forensic analysis, or whatever.

While this is taking place, Ayehu also automatically creates a ticket in your ITSM, and updates it in real-time by documenting every step of the workflow. Once the workflow is done executing, Ayehu automatically closes the ticket. All of this can occur without any human intervention, or you can choose to keep humans in the loop.

This closed-loop illustration also reveals why we think of Ayehu as a virtual operator, which we sometimes refer to as “Level 0 Tech Support”. Many incidents can simply be resolved automatically by Ayehu without human intervention, and without the need for attention from a Level 1 technician.

Imagine automating manual processes like Capture, Triage, Enrich, Respond, and Communicate. Automating resolution and remediation can result in a pretty significant savings of time, which can be particularly critical for data centers feeling overwhelmed.

Customers tell us over and over that automating the manual, tedious, time-intensive stuff accelerated their incident resolution by 90% or more.

We can also say with confidence that you can automate incident response for Splunk alerts in minutes, because Ayehu’s automation platform is agentless. Being agentless also makes us non-intrusive since we leverage API’s, SSH, and HTTPS behind enterprise firewalls under that organization’s security policy to perform automation. The only software to install is on a server, either physical or virtual, which centralizes management and greatly simplifies maintenance and upgrades.

Another reason it only takes minutes to automate incident response for Splunk alerts is because the Ayehu automation platform is codeless. This is something really important to consider because while there are many vendors out there touting their platforms as “automation”, the fact remains that they’re really just frameworks for scripting, and we steadfastly believe that scripting IS NOT automation.

For starters, in order to script you need to have programming expertise. With a true automation tool, however, you shouldn’t need to have any programming expertise. In fact, the automation platform should be so easy to use, even a junior SysAdmin with zero programming expertise should be able to master it in less than a day. Why is that so important? Because one of the promises of true automation is that you don’t have to rely on specialized talent to orchestrate activities in your environment. Requiring specialized programmers would be a bottle-neck to that goal.

Finally, the Ayehu automation platform includes AI and Machine Learning built into the product.

The first thing you should know about Ayehu’s AI and Machine Learning efforts is that we’re partnered with SRI International (SRI), formerly known as the Stanford Research Institute. For those not familiar, SRI does high-level research for government agencies, commercial organizations, and private foundations. They also license their technologies, form strategic partnerships (like the one they have with us), and create spin-off companies. They’ve received more than 4,000 patents and patent applications worldwide to date. SRI is our design partner, and they’ve designed the algorithms and other elements of our AI/ML functionality. What they’ve done so far is pretty cool, but what we’re working on going forward is really exciting.

Questions and Answers

Q:          What are the pros and cons of using general purpose bot engines compared to your solution?

A:           General purpose bot engines won’t actually perform the actions on your infrastructure, devices, monitoring tools, business applications, etc. All they can really do is ingest a request. By contrast, Ayehu not only ingests requests, but actually executes the necessary actions needed to fulfill those requests. This adds a virtual operator to your environment that’s available 24x7x365. Additionally, Ayehu is a vendor-agnostic tool that interfaces with MS-Teams, Skype, etc. to provide these general purpose chat tools with intelligent automation capabilities.

Q:          Do you have an on-premise solution?

A:           Yes. Ayehu can be installed on-premise, on a public or private cloud, or in a hybrid combination of all three.

Q:          Do you have voice integration?

A:           Ayehu integrates with Amazon Alexa, and now also offers Angie™, a voice-enabled Intelligent Virtual Support Agent for IT Service Desks.

Q:          If a user selects a wrong choice (clicks the wrong button) how does he or she fix it?

A:           It depends on how the workflow is designed. Breakpoints can be inserted in the workflow to ask the endpoint user to confirm their button selection, or go back to reselect. Ayehu also offers error-handling mechanisms within the workflow itself.

Q:          Does Ayehu provide orchestration capabilities or do you rely on a 3rd party orchestration tool?

A:           Ayehu IS an enterprise-grade orchestration tool, offering over 500 pre-built platform-specific activities that allow you to orchestrate multi-platform workflows from a single pane of glass.

Q:          Can you explain in a bit more detail on intent-based interactions?

A:           Intent is just that, what the user’s intent is when interacting with the Virtual Support Agent (VSA). For example, if a user types “Change my password”, the intent could be categorized as “Password Reset”. That would then trigger the “Password Reset” workflow.

Q:          Thanks for the information so far, great content! I would like to know if I can use machine learning from an external source, train my model, and let Ayehu query my external source for additional information?

A:           Yes. Ayehu can integrate with any external source or application, especially when it has an API for us to interface with.

Q:          Can I create new automations to my inhouse applications?

A:           Yes. Ayehu can integrate with any application bi-directionally. Once integrated with your inhouse applications, Ayehu can execute automated actions upon them.

Q:          Is there an auto form-filling feature? (which can fill in a form in an existing web application)

A:           Yes. Ayehu provides a self-service capability that will allow this.

Q:          How can I improve or check how my workflows are working and helping my employees to resolve their issues?

A:           Ayehu provides an audit trail and reporting that provides visibility into workflow performance. Additionally, reports are available on time saved, ROI, MTTR, etc. that can quantify the benefits of those workflows.

Q:          What happens when your VSA cannot help the end user?

A:           The workflow behind the VSA can be configured to escalate to a live support agent.

Q:          If there is a long list of choices – what options do you have? Dropdown?

A:           In addition to the buttons, dropdowns will be provided soon in Slack as well.

Q:          Did I understand correctly, an admin will need to create the questions and button responses? If so, is this a scripted Virtual Agent to manage routine questions?

A:           Ayehu is scriptless and codeless. The workflow behind the VSA is configured to mimic the actions of a live support agent, which requires you to pre-configure the questions and expected answers in a deterministic manner.

Q:          Is NLP/NLU dependent on IBM Watson to understand intent?

A:           Yes, and soon Ayehu will be providing its own NLP/NLU services.

Q:          Are you using machine learning for creating the conversations? Or do I have to use intents and entities along with the dialogs?

A:           Yes, you currently have to use intents and entities, but our road map includes using machine learning to provide suggestions that will improve the dialogs.

Q:          What are the other platforms that I can deploy the VSA apart from Slack?

A:           Microsoft Teams, Amazon Alexa, ServiceNow ConnectNow, LogMeIn, and any other chatbot using APIs.

This is a recap of a live Webinar we hosted in May 2019. To watch the on-demand recording and see this content in action, please click here.

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The New Wave of Hybrid AI in the Automation Era – Insights from the Experts

Over the past few years, Gartner has made some pretty bold predictions surrounding artificial intelligence and automation technology. These include such projections as the generation of $2.9 trillion in business value, the recovery of 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity and the creation of some 2.3million new jobs. All of this is expected to take place over the next couple of years, if not sooner.

Whatever you believe about AI, one thing’s for sure – it’s not going away any time soon.In fact, all signs indicate that the not-so-distant future will look a lot different from what we are used to today, with machines performing not only the physical work of humans, but also the thinking, planning, strategizing and decision-making as well.

At Ayehu, we’re always trying to stay a step ahead of the curve in terms of technology and its capabilities. Such was the purpose of our recent panel discussion entitled The New Wave of Hybrid AI in the Automation Era, during which we sat down with several AI and automation thought leaders, including:

We asked these experts to take a look back at some of the emerging trends observed and experienced in 2018 and offer a glimpse into the future. We also asked each of our esteemed panelists to go out on a limb and make a bold prediction for 2019.

Here’s a little taste of what we uncovered.

Evolution in IT Operations

One of the first topics touched upon by our own Brian Boeggeman centered on the creation of automation centers of excellence (COE) and the automation engineers that are driving adoption and proliferation of automation within the enterprise.

“We saw a trend taking place this year where there’s a lot of focus put on the creation on these centers of excellence to really drive automation,” said Brian. “Automation is clearly seen as a business imperative and a clear necessity in order to orient the next phase of enterprise operations, where efficiencies can be uncovered and realized across the business.”

He continued, “Those automation engineers effectively become the change agents within the organizations to drive that cultural change within the enterprise. As we engage with many of our customers, we’re continuing to see that as a high focus for them actually making investments to build out these COEs to push across the entire organization and enterprise as a whole.”

Brian also talked about the acceleration and creation of new services through automation and AI, pointing out that automation has emerged as a key strategy to achieve the delicate balance between innovation and operational excellence.

Download the on-demand recording to learn how to unleash new capabilities of human capital as well as what trend Brian believes will forever change the service levels and operating capabilities of organizations.

How AI and ML are Impacting the Adoption of Automation in the Enterprise  

Next, we turned the floor over to Manish Kothari, who has been involved with artificial intelligence and machine learning since the 70s. Manish opened his statement by pointing how critical data is to extracting the full value of AI.

“I think we’re starting to see a very big transformation take place across all sectors from agriculture, to consumer, and especially in IT where the need is arguably one of the highest,” Manish commented.

He went on to say: “If you are at the IT infrastructure side, you are, actually for one of the first times, really in a position to become an enabler rather an impediment to innovation.”

Manish also shared his insight on what enterprise managers who have never dealt with AI should know before deploying it and how he envisions the roles of managers changing once AI begins to get a foothold.

Find out everything that Manish had to say here.

Top Reasons Organizations Should Automate IT Operations

The next topic on the agenda was turned over to Andrew Brill of Change Healthcare, who was asked to share his thoughts on the top reasons for automating ITOps.

He was quick to point out that while the initial reasons typically revolve around cost savings and efficiency, some really exciting things can begin to happen,particularly in terms of an organization’s ability to remain compliant and consistent in its operating practices. Automation essentially becomes a force multiplier, saving users time and skyrocketing productivity and facilitating innovation.

“When we transform our staff who were doing the more robotic functions and eliminate that from their daily work, it allows them to start thinking about how we advance the organization, how we build better engineered solutions, how we work with partners that add the most value,” Andrew points out.

“Their brains are more actively working on the things that solve business problems as opposed to the functional tasks and work that perhaps we’ve had them do over the past ten years.”

Check out the playback to hear more and learn what Andrew believes are the biggest benefits of automation.

The Impact of AI on Digital Transformation

The discussion then turned to Ross Tisnovsky of McKinsey who was asked what kind of impact he believed technologies such as intelligent automation and AI having on IT digital transformation efforts in the enterprise.

In his response, Ross shared how he approaches the adoption of new technology. In particular, he highlighted the main things that users want from IT which, in his opinion, include:

  • A workspace for collaboration and enhanced productivity
  • Improved decision-making
  • Support for business innovation
  • High efficiency at a minimal cost

According to Ross, the solution to these needs requires a hybrid of AI, automation and human decision making.

“Automation works on both sides of the picture and so does the artificial intelligence. In other words, it’s likely to become part of anything we do on the business side today.”

Watch the on-demand discussion to discover the Ross’ most intriguing thoughts on hybrid AI from his real-world experience.

Key Insights and Future Outlook

During the final portion of the panel discussion, the experts weighed in on such points as:

  • The role of humans in automation adoption
  • Biggest challenges to automating IT operations
  • Skills needed to automate effectively
  • Critical KPIs/success metrics to focus on at different stages of the IT digital transformation journey
  • What enterprise IT leadership should be doing right now to start preparing for the changes to come
  • Bold predictions for AI in 2019 (and beyond)

Don’t miss out on what was certainly one of the timeliest and most informative panel discussions we’ve ever had the pleasure of hosting. Tune in to the full recording today!

Watch the full recorded panel discussion

Free Webinar: Automate Your Service Desk with ServiceNow in Less than an Hour

Webinar - ServiceNow - AyehuAccording to Gartner, ServiceNow appears on client shortlists “…at more than double the frequency of any other vendor”. It is, without question, one of the undisputed leaders of the ITSM market, and an icon of cloud computing, allowing users to consolidate their on-premise IT tools into one modern, easy-to-use service management solution.

Yet, despite its widespread use, organizations still struggle with optimizing ServiceNow and getting the most out of their instance. This leads to frustrated staff, resentful users, and a drag on earning a positive ROI.

Integrated with Ayehu’s automation and orchestration platform, however, IT departments and service desk personnel can easily automate many of their manual, laborious ServiceNow tasks.  Additionally, users can leverage automation technology to push out ticket creation and even incident resolution to end users in a self-service paradigm.

Please join the Ayehu team on Tuesday October 17th at 12pm ET / 9am PT for a live, virtual demonstration of how your ServiceNow instance can be quickly and easily turbocharged in less than an hour using next generation automation.

The demonstration will be presented in real-time by Ayehu’s Sr. Director of Customer Success, Guy Nadivi, and our Director of Professional Services, Peter Lee.

If you use ServiceNow, this is a demo you don’t want to miss, but we encourage you to register as soon as possible, as attendance is limited and we are expecting a full (virtual) house.

To reserve your spot, please fill out the registration form here. And mark your calendar for a session that is sure to be a game changer for your organization!

Live Webinar: How to Detect and Resolve Today’s High-Profile Threats

Tuesday, January 31, 12:00pm EST / 9:00am PST

One only needs to read the daily news headlines to recognize how big of a threat cyber-crime has become. These days, businesses of every size and industry and from all over the globe are vulnerable to ransomware and other malicious cyber-attacks, placing them at risk of both financial as well as reputational damage. And with an ever-increasing volume of complex cybersecurity incidents and dwindling resources, SOC teams are more overwhelmed than ever before.

What’s the solution?

In order to adequately defend against the onslaught of attacks and handle incidents in real time, IT must strike an ideal balance between detection and remediation of both known and unknown threats.

A great example of this type of power-packed combination is the integration of OPSWAT threat detection and Ayehu automated incident response and remediation platform. And now, you can see this dynamic duo in action by attending this live webinar.

On Tuesday, January 31, 12:00pm EST / 9:00am PST, join security experts from OPSWAT and Ayehu as we discuss how to detect and resolve today’s high-profile threats.

In this live online presentation, you’ll learn:

  • Why and how today’s high-profile threats have evolved and expanded
  • Key methods to identify and verify attacks in your environment and across disparate systems, including scanning anti-malware engines, automating routine tasks, and rapidly containing, remediating, and recovering from attacks
  • How combining technology from OPSWAT and Ayehu can bridge the gap between detecting and resolving threats

Does the topic of cybersecurity keep you up at night? Are you and your team tired of fighting an uphill battle to keep networks, applications and sensitive data secure and safely out of the hands of malicious hackers? If so, then this webinar is a MUST-attend!

But hurry….seats are limited and we fully expect that this highly-anticipated webinar will fill up quickly.

Register today to reserve your spot before it’s too late.

 

Presenters:

Guy Nadivi

Guy Nadivi, Sr. Director of Business Development, Ayehu

Sharon Cohen, IT & Security Professional Services Manager, Ayehu

George Prichici, Product Manager, OPSWAT

Taeil Goh, CTO, OPSWAT

Upcoming Webinar: How to Integrate Amazon Web Services with ServiceNow in Minutes

AWS SNOWAmazon Web Services (AWS) is the undisputed leader of the cloud computing market.  According to Gartner,  AWS offers “…over 10 times more cloud IaaS compute capacity in use than the aggregate total of the other 14 providers in this Magic Quadrant.”  Meanwhile, ServiceNow’s best-of-breed cloud-based ITSM platform is undeniably the most prominent vendor in its market and, according to Gartner, appears on client shortlists “…at more than double the frequency of any other vendor”.

Clearly these two tech titans rule the cloud, but up until now, it hasn’t been easy integrating AWS with ServiceNow to leverage both of their strengths together on one platform. With eyeShare, however, this is now possible. More importantly, it can be achieved in just minutes.

Please join us on Wednesday April 27th for a live, virtual demonstration of how AWS can quickly and easily be integrated with ServiceNow, enabling an entirely new class of self-service for your end-users.  Using eyeShare’s IT process automation capabilities, we’ll demonstrate how resource provisioning requests that burden your service desk can be turned into automated workflows that end-users trigger on their own with just a few simple mouse clicks.

This webinar will demonstrate:

  • Current AWS resource provisioning conventions
  • Integrating AWS with ServiceNow
  • Off-loading AWS requests from your service desk to end users via a self-service portal
  • Fully documenting each provisioning event in ServiceNow

It’s a demo that will leave you dancing in the clouds. But don’t wait – registration is limited and full attendance is anticipated. Sign up now to reserve your spot and discover how easy it can be to integrate these two cloud computing giants and harness their joint capabilities for the benefit of your IT organization.

To register and reserve your spot, please click here.

LIVE WEBINAR: HOW TO INTEGRATE AMAZON WEB SERVICES WITH SERVICENOW IN MINUTES




Webinar: How to Automate Ticket Creation in JIRA Service Desk in Just 5 Minutes

Given the fact that the Atlassian company services some 25,000 customers in more than 122 countries around the world, chances are you’re already leveraging JIRA Service Desk for your IT support needs. The problem is, while JIRA has made a name for itself due to its simple set up and ease of use, what it lacks is a robust workflow automation platform.

What if there was a way that you could leverage automation to manage incidents without writing code and automatically remediate those incidents without the need for manual scripting? The good news is, with the right IT process automation tool, you can successfully do just that, ultimately creating a closed-loop process that makes ticket management easy, efficient and highly-effective. Best of all, you can accomplish this in mere minutes.

Want to learn more?

Join us for our next LIVE webinar during which we will demonstrate how to create a bi-directional integration between JIRA Service Desk and your favorite monitoring system in just 5 minutes.  The resulting integration will not only allow automatic ticket creation in JIRA Service Desk, but will also allow requests submitted through JIRA to be automatically executed in your environment!

The webinar will be presented completely free of charge on Wednesday, March 23, 2016 12pm EDT / 9am PDT.

If you currently use JIRA Service Desk for your IT support service and would like to learn how you can make the entire process better in just a few minutes’ time, you don’t want to miss this free online presentation. But be sure to sign up right away because space is limited. Hope to see you there!

You can register to attend the webinar here.





Webinar: How to automate ticket creation in JIRA Service Desk in 5 minutes?




Webinar: How to Turbo Charge Your Cyber Security Incident Response Strategy

cyber security incident response webinar CTAIs your cyber security incident response plan truly strong enough to keep your organization’s sensitive data safe from falling into the wrong hands? With cyber-criminals becoming more sophisticated by the day and their efforts multiplying at an alarming rate, no business is safe. More importantly, without the right technological tools, your IT department cannot adequately safeguard information, which means increased vulnerability and immeasurable potential loss.

What if there was a way that you could fortify your security strategy to make catching potential threats easier, more affordable and more efficient? Great news – there is! Automation can be leveraged as a force multiplier for your CSIRT (Computer Security Incident Response Team), making your data, and your organization, much safer from would-be criminals. And while no plan can ever fully eliminate risk, the more you proactively strengthen your approach, the more you can mitigate any potential damages.

Want to learn more? Join us Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 12pm EST / 9am PST for a free webinar entitled “How to Turbo Charge Your Cyber Security Incident Response Strategy with Automation”. This informative presentation will delve in-depth into a number of helpful topics, including several compelling reasons why you should automate cyber security incident response as well as how to deal with several concerns associated with automated incident response.

We will also demonstrate a real-life scenario of this type of automation so you can witness it firsthand.

If you’d like to prevent your organization from becoming the next victim of a cyber-attack, this webinar is an absolute must attend.

Space is limited, so be sure to reserve your spot right away. Click here to sign up now!