Chris BantaChris Banta, manager of managed services

The word ‘automation’ is used too loosely and frequently when reading about cutting edge IT service delivery and management.

If automation is supposedly a readily  available facet of IT, then it is perplexing to see that 75% of the typical IT budget is spent maintaining existing infrastructure. Within recent years the reach and effectiveness of IT automation has undoubtedly improved, but there are still many stubborn inefficiencies.  Most IT administrators don’t have to look too hard to find glaring examples of inefficiency; for instance, it’s common to hear about email inboxes inundated with automated alerts.

As the visibility of complex infrastructures increases, so does the near exponential volume of alerting, and more so if there is proactive monitoring.  Therein lies the root problem automation is lacking in the areas that arguably cost the most in IT.  Some of the areas of recurring cost and inefficiency include maintenance, incident response and correlational critical thinking.

To address the problem of operational inefficiency, Safe Systems innovates and refines industry leading solutions.  These solutions, such as NetComply, our comprehensive network management solution, are tailored specifically for financial institutions with an emphasis on compliance.  The managed services department at Safe Systems is in charge of continual service and process improvement. To this end, the most widely accepted approach to IT service management, ITIL, states that continual improvement is integral to the service delivery life cycle.  It’s typical for a NetComply client to talk directly with a developer when addressing managed services support concerns.  This direct interaction is conducive to innovation and refinement for systemic inefficiencies.

This ongoing process to improve efficiency has many moving parts and approaches that can be concisely described by a fundamental philosophy named the Safe Systems Automation Initiative (SSAI) which is currently in development and is described below.

In Development – Safe Systems Automation Initiative

  • Automated gathering of server and workstation hardware warranty expiration
    • Current NetComply subscribers can now view this by adding the ‘Warranty Expiry’ column on their agent status page
    • Majority of the Dell and HP parsing logic is complete
    • Without this automation, warranty lookups require the user to click through the manufacturer website every time for each machine
  • Smart Maintenance
    • If SSAI scripts are unable to automatically correct improper configuration then a smart alert will fire to the applicable person(s)
    • This brings some of the maintenance needs to the surface
  • Smarter alerting and automated fixes
    • Use of correlation repositories allows for complex scripted logic using multiple data sources
    • Proactive automated fixes with layers of risk mitigation and fail safes before resulting in email alerts or tickets

To summarize, SSAI is one of the missing links in the IT automation chain. This automation enhancement improves Safe Systems’ capacity to fend off potential issues before they become serious, and generally enhances response times for all support services.  For example, when sampling 1174 servers for one day, SSAI responds to 13,682 alerts and only leaves three alerts for someone to finish up.  Come to the 2013 Safe Systems National Users Conference (NetConnect) to hear more about the efficiency gains that SSAI is making possible.

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