How to Scale Incident Remediation with Intelligent Automation

Author: Guy Nadivi

Automation has helped many organizations weather the pandemic, and consequently become even more resilient. Now, IT departments looking for next-level results, are scaling up their automation efforts to increase those gains. Ayehu’s platform enables scalable intelligent automation by powering unattended incident remediation, an operational mode which can result in huge cost savings.

What’s driving the need for that scalability? Well, one obvious driver is the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many organizations today are forced to have their staff work from home for basic safety reasons, and that’s making it difficult to perform on-site IT operations that require human involvement.

BTW – These headlines below are all recent. In fact, three of them are just from last month.

It’s not just COVID-19 that’s driving automation plans though. A bit over a year ago before the pandemic, between October 23 – November 7, 2019, Gartner conducted a survey of IT leaders and asked “What are your organization’s investment plans for the following practice areas?” You can see all the practice areas given as choices at the bottom of each column where they’re listed as the column label.

The #1 practice area where investments were expected to increase was Infrastructure and Operations (IandO) automation. 42% of organizations already had plans to start investing there before the pandemic.

That’s TWICE as much as the next closest practice area – cloud management. This sort of makes you wonder why the cloud is getting all the love these days when automation is clearly where organizations planned on spending more of their money.

There’s another driver for automation though, and that’s simply the amount of work your IT operations staff are struggling to keep up with.

Just maintaining the status quo is overwhelming them. There are simply too many incidents, requests, and projects that IT Operations is responsible for, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only increased their burden.

If you’ve ever sat in on our webinars then you already know we’re pretty adamant about reminding everyone that people don’t scale very well. Even the very best IT Operations workers can only do so much. At some point, and that point is pretty much right now, automation has got to do more and more of the repetitive, tedious, laborious tasks all this growth in demand for services is necessitating. Senior IT executives realize that too, and it’s unquestionably influencing their push to invest in automation.

Now that I’ve made the argument in favor of automating, let’s talk about scaling up that automation.

In our experience, one of the most common tasks organizations try to automate is active directory password resets. This is a great use case of course, because Gartner estimates that as much as 40% of all calls and tickets to your service desk are password reset requests.

But there are many more great use cases to automate.

On our website, Ayehu keeps track of the highest value automation use cases with the broadest applicability to our customers. As you can see, there are actually many great uses cases for automation that apply to just about every organization. Even this though, is just a fraction of what can be automated.

It turns out that almost everything in IT can be automated. There are not only a ton of use cases common to all organizations which can be automated, but there are virtually an infinite number of use cases that are less common and perhaps even unique just to your organization. Well guess what? The vast majority of those can probably also be automated, and it’s much less complicated than you might expect.

The big takeaway here is if you’re ready to scale up incident remediation, and other IT Operations tasks, then it’s never been easier to do so with automation.

This is why it’s starting to make sense to take an automation first approach to IT Operations. Let the software do the robotic stuff so you can scale up incident remediation, and let your staff focus on the more strategic and challenging stuff. This not only greatly improves the productivity of IT Operations, it increases staff morale, and lets them contribute a much higher level of value to the organization.

When you begin looking at IT Operations from an automation first perspective, you’ll quickly make an important realization.

Not only can you eliminate a huge burden of manual work off of IT Operations, but thanks to chatbots, you can also empower your end users to initiate and fulfill many of their own incident remediation needs and service requests without any IT Operations involvement.

This is a big deal, making chatbots a huge enabler for scaling up incident remediation with intelligent automation.

Once you create a self-service channel for your end users, you can redirect a huge volume of traffic away from IT Operations in general, and your service desk in particular.

Your value propositions here now go beyond just scaling up your incident remediation capacity.

Lowering the volume of calls and requests can also reduce costs, slash MTTR by accelerating resolution times of incidents and requests, liberate IT staff from doing tedious work which frees them up for more important tasks, and last but not least, raises customer satisfaction ratings, an increasingly critical KPI for IT Operations.

One more thing to consider. Not every organization uses chatbots, for a variety of reasons which I won’t go into here. If chatbots aren’t part of your organization’s solution stack, but you still want to provide your users with self-service capabilities, then Ayehu NG can provide you with a fantastic alternative – a self-service portal.

Ayehu NG v1.8 and higher includes functionality to enable creation of self-service forms that end users can interface with to fulfill their own requests or remediate their own incidents. The self-service form is actually a natural extension of what we already do, automate routine IT tasks. Like chatbots, the self-service portal will allow you to deflect a large amount of ticket volume away from your service desk.

In fact, when deployed, we’ve seen self-service significantly increase first contact resolution rates by as much as 65%!

Taken together, automation, chatbots, and self-service portals will help your organization dramatically scale up its incident remediation capacity.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how easily you can scale up your organization’s incident remediation with intelligent automation, please visit our website and download your very own free 30-day trial version today by clicking here.

What’s New in Ayehu NG 1.8: Self-Service

Author: Guy Nadivi

The latest release of Ayehu NG has some critical and advanced new features, most notably a new and improved self-service capability, that allows end users to fulfill service requests and even remediate incidents themselves.

Self-service is becoming a huge imperative for IT. Why is that?

According to Gartner, it’s very simple.

“Business consumers are comparing their enterprise IT self-service experience with their consumer experience, driven by companies like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Amazon, Apple, eBay and UPS. I&O leaders should do the same.” (emphasis mine)

Source: Gartner ID G00340706 | Published October 4, 2017 | Refreshed September 24, 2020

In other words, the bar is being set by other companies that everyone, including your organization’s users, are interacting with every day. They’re seeing how well self-service works OUTSIDE your enterprise, and it’s driving their expectations of how well self-service should work INSIDE your enterprise.

When most people think about self-service in an enterprise environment, they increasingly think about chatbots as the delivery channel. I’m talking of course about chatbots like Teams, which as everyone knows is published by Microsoft, or Slack which is increasingly being more tightly integrated with Google.

Just to be clear though, Microsoft OWNS Teams, but Google DOES NOT own Slack. At least not yet, anyways.

So these two have emerged as the primary interfaces for a lot of enterprise self-service apps over the last few years.

The reason why Teams and Slack dominate this market is pretty obviuos – daily active users. Teams has 75 million and Slack has 12 million.

These are the most recent official numbers, but they’re from earlier this year. The current number of daily active users is almost certainly much higher.

Interestingly though, despite Teams having more than 6 times as many users as Slack, Slack actually has 28% more subscribing organizations than Teams – 640 thousand compared to 500 thousand.

Again, these are the most recent official numbers, and everyone is eagerly awaiting updates from both Microsoft and Slack to get a better idea of how they’re currently splitting market share.

Despite these huge usage numbers though, it turns out that chatbots as a self-service delivery channel are not for everybody. They’re definitely not a “one size fits all” solution.

There are a few specific reasons why.

One big reason is simply that user expectations aren’t being met. The chatbot may not have the conversational sophistication users are looking for, or it’s not providing the answer a user was hoping to get.

The reason for that might be a lack of training data. Many chatbots are driven by AI and machine learning, which require lots and lots of training data in order to begin displaying some intelligence. Depending on the use case being addressed, the chatbot may not have enough training data available for it to satisfy the machine learning requirements.

Of course, a lack of training data is really just part of the broader category of a lack of resources. Chatbots are not a one-and-done type of initiative. They need to be updated, fine-tuned, and generally maintained throughout their lifespan. However, a lot of organizations don’t have the resources for that, so a chatbot may not be for them.

Finally, there’s the ever-present issue of cost. Chatbots are not necessarily cheap to deploy, especially if you want to do it right with AI and automation, and that may put it out of budget range for many organizations, especially SMB’s.

If you’re an enterprise IT decision maker, what do you do?

You know you want self-service because it reduces costs. Also, many of your users are eager for a way to avoid submitting tickets to the help desk and then wait until they’re fulfilled. This is especially true if they’re part of a younger demographic, and already expect to be able to fulfill their own requests or even remediate their own incidents.

Yet at the same time, you feel chatbots are not right for your organization.

Ayehu NG can help, by providing a chatbot alternative through its automation platform.

We do that in this newest release, v1.8, by simply adding a little more functionality to enable creation of self-service forms that end users can interface with to fulfill their own requests or remediate their own incidents. The self-service form is actually a natural extension of what we already do, automate routine IT tasks, and it will allow you to deflect a large amount of ticket volume from your help desk.

In fact, when deployed, we’ve seen self-service significantly increase first contact resolution rates by as much as 65%!

What are some use cases you can apply this dynamic self-service capability to? There are too many to list, and in addition to the universal ones, there are probably quite a few use cases unique to your organization that would make great candidates for self-service.

However, thanks to Gartner, we can categorize just about all self-service use cases into one of 5 buckets:

  • How-to: These are simply inquiries about how to accomplish, access, or operate IT resources.
  • Password reset: There are estimates that this task alone can account for as much as 40% of a help desk’s ticket volume.
  • Break/fix: If a user can’t access or operate an IT resource, give them the ability to fix it themselves.
  • Service request: These can include things like asking for a new laptop or provisioning a VM.
  • Requests for status updates: Responding to user requests for status updates on any of the above is probably one of the bigger annoyances for help desks. With self-service, a user can look that up themselves, and the help desk won’t need to be bothered.

One last thought.

Once you create a self-service channel for your end users, you often need to incentivize them to use it so it can fulfill all the lofty ROI projections that were used to justify deploying it.

The good news is, that’s relatively easy to do by simply ensuring that better outcomes are available to them via self-service as opposed to calling the help desk.

For example, let’s say a user wants to provision a VM.

Just institute a policy that if they provision it by requesting the help desk to do it, they’re only eligible to be allocated 8Gb RAM for their VM.

However, if they provision the VM via self-service, they can allocate themselves as much as 12Gb of RAM.

This is a simple, straightforward way of accelerating user adoption of self-service at your enterprise.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how much value self-service can add to your environment, please visit our website and click here to download your very own free 30-day trial version today.

How to Easily Automate Azure Infrastructure Tasks

Author: Guy Nadivi

Although AWS is currently the 800lb gorilla in the cloud, Azure is its fastest-growing competitor. The work-from-home mandate due to the COVID-19 pandemic, seems to be accelerating a migration to the cloud for many enterprises, and that means more and more infrastructure tasks will need to be done on platforms like Azure.

The Ayehu NG platform integrates with cloud computing environments like Azure and AWS, so it can mitigate the need to manually perform a lot of those critical yet mundane tasks associated with managing an Azure cloud instance.

The cloud computing market is growing very fast.

According to research firm MarketsAndMarkets, in this crazy year of 2020, the cloud computing market’s size will hit over $371 Billion!

In just 5 years though, they forecast the market size will more than double – hitting over $832 billion by 2025.

That represents a healthy 17.5% compound annual growth rate. Not too bad.

And that report from MarketsAndMarkets contains an interesting quote:

“Increased automation and agility is expected to drive the cloud computing market.”

So automation actually has a dual role, both as a contributor to growth of the cloud computing market, and as a solution for making it easier to manage.

Just for the sake of comparison, I want to show you this chart I grabbed off of Statista.com comparing all the major cloud service providers, including AWS, Microsoft, Google, IBM, etc.

The bottom row of the chart represents market share for AWS. As you can see, since Q2 of 2017, their market share hasn’t changed much. Three years ago, it was 34%, and last quarter it was 33%, so they’ve remained pretty steady.

Now look at Azure. Starting from the same time period, we can see that Azure went from 11% market share in Q2 of 2017, to 18% as of last quarter, Q2 of 2020.

No other individual provider has grown that much in that short a timeframe.

Not only is the Cloud Services market growing, but Azure’s share of that market is growing faster than anyone else’s.

Azure’s global footprint is large, and continues to grow.

They currently boast over 60 regions, which they define as “…a set of datacenters, deployed within a latency-defined perimeter and connected through a dedicated regional low-latency network.” They also claim to have more global regions than any other cloud provider.

Azure also currently has over 160 physical data centers within those 60 regions. I don’t think I need to define what data centers are, so suffice it to say, they’ve got a lot of capacity.

Within those 60+ regions and 160+ data centers, Azure provides customers 22 different categories of service. There’s a really broad diversity among those services, as you can see in the graphic below. The number in parentheses on each hexagon represents the number of services in each category.

As of today, there’s a grand total of 277 services offered that Microsoft lists on Azure’s website.

Here’s a sampling for some of the specific services you’ll find in 4 of the most popular service categories.

Under the Compute category, there are services for VMs, SQL Server, and Containers.

The Storage category includes services for Backups, BLOBs, and Data Lakes.

If you need Network services, Microsoft offers Traffic Management, Load Balancing, and Firewalls.

And in the ever-critical Security category, you’ll find services for Active Directory, Key Vault, and VPN Gateway.

Now I suspect that most (if not all) of you reading this probably already knew about Microsoft’s many service offerings, the diversity of services they offer, their global data center foot print, and even their market share. So why am I going over all of this?

The reason why is because all of that massive computing capability Azure makes available to you, also requires a massive amount of often manual administrative tasks to be executed in order for your Azure instance to run smoothly. Which brings up the question – What percentage of Azure tasks can be automated?

As long as a task can be accessed through an API, and as far as we know the vast majority of Azure tasks can be, then you can automate that given task with Ayehu NG. We estimate that at least 90% of Azure tasks can be automated. Which means that as you grow your enterprise footprint on Azure, and as you increase the variety of Azure services you subscribe to, there is a solution for scaling your system administration capabilities in parallel that just might mitigate the need to increase headcount. That solution is available right now and can be plugged into your Azure instance within minutes of downloading.

One more thing to keep in mind. As your Azure footprint grows, and your volume of user demands expands, the number of tasks you’ll need to perform will increase as well. That will make it progressively more difficult for your staff to keep up, for one very simple reason – people don’t scale very well.

Even the very best Azure SysAdmins can only do so much. At some point, automation has got to absorb more and more of the repetitive, tedious, laborious tasks all this growth in cloud computing usage creates. The alternative will be trying to hire your way out of this dilemma, and that will prove to be far more expensive than adopting automation.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing for yourself how easily you can automate your own Azure infrastructure tasks, please visit our website or click here to download your very own free 30-day trial version today.

How to Automate Investigation of Active Directory Security Breaches

Author: Guy Nadivi

It’s estimated that 90% of organizations around the world use Active Directory as their primary identity service for authentication and authorization. Hackers know this, which is why Active Directory has become one of their favorite targets. Of course, it isn’t just hackers looking for vulnerabilities in order to gain access to your network resources. It’s also insiders.

Regardless of whether your attacker is external or internal, if successful, they can cause enormous damage to your enterprise, both financial and reputational. Automation can help accelerate investigation of these security breaches, and as a result, greatly reduce an organization’s exposure from attacks on corporate Active Directory deployments.

What makes Active Directory so popular among organizations?

One obvious thing is that it’s published by Microsoft, which makes Active Directory the default choice for Windows environments.

Active Directory is also very configurable and customizable, making it popular for organizations with very specific identity access requirements.

Additionally, Active Directory is very adept at centralizing management of compute resources and identity access, which eases the administrative burden on technical staff. A major benefit!

Finally, it’s fairly easy to manage Active Directory since it has a familiar Windows interface.

It turns out though that all the same benefits which make Active Directory so popular with System Administrators, also makes it popular with a couple of other demographics.

I’m referring of course to outside hackers, working either as individuals, or as part of crime syndicates, or even under state sponsorship from an adversarial nation.

Increasingly, Active Directory is also being targeted by disgruntled employees, or insiders motivated to commit harm against YOUR organization. One spectacular recent example of that is Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who stole hundreds of thousands of incredibly sensitive classified documents that were subsequently leaked to the public. His case illustrates what can happen to an organization even as hyper-security conscious as the NSA if it focuses too much on defending against outsiders – it gets blindsided by an insider.

There are many best practices that security experts recommend to protect your Active Directory from people with nefarious intentions like outside hackers or disgruntled employees. I won’t go into depth about those recommendations, but I do want to mention one you’re probably already familiar with that’s very important: Least-Privilege Administrative Model.

This is the principle of restricting access rights for users, accounts, and computing processes to just the resources absolutely required to perform their job. For example, if all a particular user needs for their function is to read documents, then there’s no need to also give them access to write documents.

That’s why the Least-Privilege Administrative model is considered a simple concept that’s easy to understand.

If you implement the Least-Privilege Administrative model, it’s going to be effective at reducing risk for your enterprise, which in turn will increase security. Sounds great so far, right?

As it turns out though, the Least-Privilege Administrative model is rarely implemented by organizations. Despite the general consensus about its positive benefits, it’s considered too difficult and tedious to actually use.

Coincidentally, I found an interesting quote about implementing least-privilege administrative models in a document published by the organization which knows better than anyone about Active Directory’s security vulnerabilities – Microsoft!

The first part of the document reads “…..in assessing Active Directory installations, we invariably find excessive numbers of accounts that have been granted rights and permissions far beyond those required to perform day-to-day work.”

A little further down in this document it talks about the sophistication of those attacking Active Directory and says “Unfortunately, the path of least resistance in many environments has proven to be the overuse of accounts with broad and deep privilege.”

If you’re interested, and especially if you’re tasked with securing Active Directory, I recommend reading this Microsoft document yourself (“Implementing Least-Privilege Administrative Models”).

Those administrating Active Directory as part of their job role know that implementing the Least-Privilege Administrative Model is the best option in terms of effectiveness, but it’s also difficult to implement. What then should one do?

Ayehu proposes that you consider a modified Least-Privilege Administrative Model that applies to all administrator accounts, and relies on automation to ensure strict compliance.

How would that work? Conceptually something like this.

In Active Directory, there would be tiers of privilege for various administrative accounts based on the tasks a given administrator type would need to carry out. However, in accordance with our model, those accounts would receive the least amount of privilege needed to accomplish those tasks, and nothing more. Every administrator account would then be assigned to a given tier.

Ayehu’s automation platform would integrate with Active Directory to automate much of the enforcement of these strict tiers.

When there is any movement between the tiers, or even a new account created, Ayehu would provide automated detection, investigation, and triage services to the appropriately designated SysAdmin via a simple Slack interface, and would furthermore document all of this activity in a standard ServiceNow ticket.

If implementing a full Least-Privilege Administrative model is impractical at your organization, using this approach allows you to at least deploy it for your admin accounts. That way, you can leverage Ayehu’s enterprise-grade automation to tie together all these components into an effective unified defense for Active Directory.

With an estimated 90% of organizations using Active Directory as their primary identity service for authentication and authorization, it’s just a fact of life that AD is going to be under relentless assault, from both external and internal attack.

There is no one solution that can completely protect Active Directory from all the different angles those attacks vector in from. However, automation does have a role to play as an important defensive tool for Active Directory by making implementation of a modified Least-Privilege Administrative model for your admin accounts a far more feasible option than it might otherwise be.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and seeing how it can help secure your Active Directory deployment, please visit our website and download your very own free 30-day trial version today by clicking here.

Automating Remediation of Splunk Alerts with Ayehu

Author: Guy Nadivi

Many of our customers use Splunk, the market leader in their space. Due to the large volume of alerts Splunk generates, we often get asked how Ayehu can help offset some of the laborious manual work involved in remediating those alerts. We’re going to answer that question with a great use case many of you will find very familiar – freeing up disk space on a server (with a slight twist).

Remediating low disk space is on our list of top 10 highest value automation use cases. Ayehu can automate the toil out of that particular process using a combination of Splunk, ServiceNow, Slack, and Ayehu NG.

Let’s talk a bit about Splunk. It will come as no surprise to most of you that Splunk continues to be a market leader in its category. Here’s Gartner’s 2020 Magic Quadrant for the SIEM market showing Splunk just edging out IBM as the highest entry in that upper rightmost LEADERS square.

Just in case it’s difficult to read, the y-axis where they’re higher than everyone is a measurement of Ability to Execute.

The x-axis measures vendors by their Completeness of Vision, and Splunk’s doing pretty good on that metric as well.

This is clearly one reason Splunk is viewed as a market leader.

Being a market leader often translates into higher market share. Not surprisingly, Splunk is now #1 in market share with 16.5%. They recently dethroned IBM which is #2 with 13.2%. And rounding out the top 3 is Microsoft with 8.4%.

As of the end of Fiscal Year 2019, Splunk reports 19,400 customers.

According to Gartner, Splunk has an astounding 30.4% growth rate.

And 92 of the Fortune 100 are Splunk customers.

The reason Splunk is doing so well, as a lot of you already know, is because they’re great with machine data.

Splunk captures data, from logs, web servers, and lots of other places. Then it indexes that data to facilitate flexible searching and fast data retrieval. Splunk can then begin to correlate that data, which will often reveal relationships between seemingly unrelated events, and help accelerate root cause analysis. Splunk can also visualize this data into dashboards, graphs, and other outputs.

However, the biggest output from Splunk that most people in IT operations are probably familiar with is the alerts. Boy, oh boy can Splunk generate a lot of alerts!

And you know what that often leads to? Alert fatigue. Let’s face it, prior to the pandemic your service desk was already pretty overwhelmed. Now with the added burden of everyone working from home, they’re having a hard time keeping up.

Just how serious is alert fatigue? I’m going to address that with this brief quote:

‘There are too many security alerts coming in, and not enough people and time to deal with them all. In fact, approximately 64% of security tickets generated per day are not being worked. Let that sink in. The majority of security alerts received by security teams are not being analyzed and resolved. This is the essence of “alert fatigue”.’

And who is that quote from? Splunk themselves. They posted those exact words on their website earlier this year (Splunk Blogs – January 17, 2020).

Now this is a quote specifically about security tickets, but everyone knows it’s the exact same story in network operations where you have alerts flying at you from every direction 24×7.

The solution to alert fatigue, and really the solution to freeing up people from a lot of the laborious, repetitive, predictable tasks that comprise so much of IT operations, is automation.

Automation is going to:

  • Deflect tickets away from your service desk, which in turn allows technicians to focus on higher value projects
  • Reduce and/or eliminate errors which has the added benefit of reducing and/or eliminating rework, an often overlooked but significant drain on resources
  • Save time and money for the service desk, the IT department, and ultimately your organization
  • Almost certainly increase IT’s customer satisfaction scores, which is becoming an increasingly important KPI, in many cases linked directly to individual bonus compensation

BTW, many of you I’m sure are familiar with PwC also known as PricewaterhouseCoopers. They’re one of the Big Four accounting firms and 2nd largest professional services network in the world. Since March of 2020, they’ve been regularly surveying CFOs around the globe to track their sentiments in response to the COVID-19 crisis. In their most recent survey, during the weeks of June 1 and June 8 they asked 989 CFOs from 23 countries or territories around the world about their top priorities going forward.

The response from the CFOs was that “…50% report they plan to accelerate automation and new ways of working.“

So that’s the direction things are going in – automation. Actually, many of you know firsthand it was already going in that direction, but COVID-19 has unexpectedly expedited things.

Speaking of automation, Ayehu doesn’t just automate activities in Network Operations Centers.

Many of our customers use the Ayehu NG platform to also automate activities in their Security Operations Centers.

That makes sense, right? Splunk can send an alert notifying you about low disk space on a network drive, and Splunk can also send an alert that a ransomware attack is underway on a server. In both cases, that alert can come to Ayehu NG, where you can run an automated workflow, or playbook if you prefer, that automates the remediation response.

In fact, when it comes to security, many of the attacks themselves are automated, and there’s simply no way humans can respond quickly enough.

So if the attack is automated, shouldn’t the response to defend against it be automated too?

It should be, and you can automate all these kinds of things for both domains from a single pane of glass with Ayehu NG.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG and reducing alert fatigue in your organization, please visit our website and click here to download your very own free 30-day trial version today.

What’s new with Ayehu? Overview of Ayehu NG 1.7

Overview of Ayehu NG 1.7
Author: Guy Nadivi

This latest release of Ayehu NG has some critical and advanced new features, most notably the ability to deliver more self-service incident remediation and request fulfillment to end users via our new MS-Teams integration.

Earlier this year, we did a webinar which flashed a graphic from Statista about the number of Microsoft Teams Daily Active Users. The chart’s numbers have been updated, but it’s worth a quick revisit to get a sense of growth for MS-Teams over the last year.

In July of 2019, just a bit over a year ago, Microsoft’s worldwide user count stood at 13 million.

Then by November of last year, they had experienced a little over 50% growth and their user count stood at 20 million.

Between November last year and March 12th of this year, they gained another 12 million users for a worldwide total of 32 million. The critical date to take into account there is on your left, March 10th. That’s when Microsoft began giving away MS-Teams for free in response to the pandemic forcing many people to work from home. A very shrewd move by Microsoft marketing.

Within one week, from March 12th to March 19th, the worldwide number of daily active users for Microsoft Teams exploded from 32 million to 44 million. A mind-boggling increase of 37.5% in just 7 days! Remember, less than a year ago they only had 13 million total.

And then the floodgates burst open. As of April 2020, Microsoft reported having 75 million users worldwide! That’s a 477% growth rate from basically just a year ago, which is literally off the charts.

This graphic illustrates the importance of having connectivity with Microsoft Teams. It’s the chatbot interface of choice for so many enterprises and people around the world, and it’s clearly where the market is going.

It’s also where Ayehu is going, because we always want to be where our customers want to go.

The headline story then for v1.7 of Ayehu NG is our integration with MS-Teams, which allows you to easily provide automation services for MS-Teams users. All 75 million of them.

Ayehu’s integration is immensely useful for end-users who are in a hurry and don’t have time to wait for the Help Desk to remediate their incident or fulfill a request.

It’s great for the Help Desk as well because it redirects calls and tickets away from technicians. This in turn frees up technicians to work on more complex issues, enabling them to add greater value than just fixing L1 incidents.

The MS-Teams integration allows you to architect structured conversations with simple button choices for end users to select from. This makes it very easy for them to do a number of things that previously would have required a technician.

As always, it’s super simple to create automations like these. Just go into Ayehu NG’s Workflow Designer, and look for the MS-Teams activities. Drag and drop the ones you need right into the workflow you’re building, then configure a few parameters. No coding required!

What kinds of specific incidents and fulfillment requests would you use MS-Teams to deflect from your help desk? Here are some sample use cases our clients have told us about:

  • A user can type “I need to reset my Salesforce password”, and MS-Teams integrated with Ayehu NG v1.7 will reset the password for them.
  • A user can report that a specific server is down, and request that it be restarted. Teams and Ayehu take care of the rest.
  • A user can check on the status of a ticket in ServiceNow, or just about any ITSM platform.
  • A user can tell MS-Teams they can’t get into email, and that will trigger the same remediation process usually performed by a technician.
  • A user can ask how much space is left on their hard drive, then request that it be cleaned up, which might include automatically deleting some files, compressing some files, and moving other files somewhere else.
  • A user can also ask about possible malware and inquire if it’s a problem.

These of course, are just examples. The only real limit is your imagination, but the Ayehu integration for MS-Teams stands ready to make whatever kinds of automation you imagine come to life.

Another feature v1.7 delivers is an improvement in the NG to NG Migration function many of you started using immediately when it first debuted with v1.6.

In v1.7 this NG to NG Migration has been improved to accommodate those times when you’ve already migrated a workflow from your dev or test environment to your production environment once, and now want to do it again without duplicating the production workflow.

We accomplish this by introducing the Migration Overwrite function. During the migration process, if an existing workflow is identified by an identical name, you will now be presented with an option to overwrite the existing workflow with the incoming workflow. This will update the workflow in the destination (production) environment with the new changes. There will also be overwrite options for most entities within the workflow, such as devices, templates, error handlers, and more.

The last major new feature in v1.7 is Azure Active Directory Sync.

For organizations that don’t want to manage local users in Ayehu NG, the Azure Active Directory Users Synchronization activity can be utilized in v1.7 to sync users and groups from your company’s Azure AD tenant. 

This functionality gives any Ayehu NG user who can create workflows, as well as manage logins, the ability to sync users and groups from Active Directory into NG, and then create login users and login groups from them as appropriate.

It’s a great new tool that customers using Azure cloud will really get a lot of benefit from.

If you’re interested in test driving Ayehu NG v1.7 with these cool new features, download your very own free 30-day trial version today by clicking here.