IT management has changed immeasurably in the passed five to 10 years. Gone are the days of IT departments just having to look after desktops and servers, instead today’s networks have become a complex mass of different devices and operating systems – from laptops and tablets through to smartphones and IoT devices. Not only that, the number of hybrid and cloud-based application and systems means that Systems Management processes – which handle the administration of an organization’s wider IT systems – have been forced to expand focus to not just look at internal networks but external networks as well.
Meanwhile, desktop management – which is a subset of Systems Management – has also been forced to change. As its name implies, Desktop Management, used to cover just desktop computers and laptops, however today that has expanded to cover the wide range of other devices that employees use day to day. With continuing calls for more personalization of technology in the workplace, this range of devices is only going to keep expanding.
Why do we need to streamline Desktop and System Management with data?
The growing complexity of corporate networks means that streamlining Desktop and Systems Management has become essential for organizations. However, we need to make an important point up front: streamlining does not mean reducing complexity, but instead it refers to managing that complexity.
By streamlining Desktop and Systems Management, IT departments can provide end-users with more usability and personalization without losing control of the IT infrastructure. They can also improve security through reporting and compliance, provide seamless remote support and shorten their time to react and remediate crisis and recovery management issues.
However, the reality is that effectively managing current IT infrastructures manually is not only difficult but it’s also risky – the opportunity for human error increases a company’s risk exposure. However, IT is too often the least automated department in many companies. This means that systems admins need a tool to help them streamline and remove the concern of (and opportunity for) human error. What does that tool look like?
Most Remote Support Software offers some IT Process Automation (ITPA) functionalities to address this challenge for IT teams, allowing them to manage a wide range of issues automatically and freeing up resources. ITPA relies on data collected on endpoints (computers) through a lightweight agent. This data enables a user to create a workflow that is triggered when a change of state or configuration is detected in a system.
How IT Process Automation helps streamline desktop and system management
There are a wide range of different ways that ITPA can help IT departments manage network complexity, these include:
- Implementing Preventive measures – Using simple scripts, IT teams can automatically remediate problems before they become an issue. A great example of this is low disk remediation. ITPA allows you to set your remote support solution to automatically detect an endpoint with low disk space and then clean temp files from directory upon discovery without the user or technicians having to be involved at all.
- User provisioning and decommissioning – Setting up new users and decommissioning old users is an area of particular vulnerability for many organization, and somewhere human error can really leave a company open to compromise. Again ITPA can help companies automatically set up new employees with required software and access, and similarly remove former employees from the system so that no accounts are inadvertently left open. It will also enable you to customize configuration for different groups of users.
- Detection of undesired activities to keep the infrastructure clean and secure –Manually tracking any suspect activity means some things can easily get missed. For example, newly created users whose passwords are not set to expire; or suspicious accounts whose users have been locked multiple times during a short period of time. Employing ITPA means these issues can be quickly spotted and then either automatically remediated or flagged for further investigation by technicians.
- Implementing changes of global configuration changes in real-time on multiple computers at once – There are many incidences where IT teams will need to implement global changes across all the devices in an organization in a timely fashion – such as disabling Cortana or Telemetry features on Windows 10. If done manually, machines can easily get missed or overlooked, but with ITPA you can be assured that all relevant devices on the network have been covered. The same can be applied to managing the role out of security patches.
- Improved Scripting– A key feature of ITPA within most remote support platforms is that the way scripting is now set up means that technicians no longer need to know a specific programming language to automate a process. Instead modern style user interfaces let console operators build workflows on the fly. With process automation, or similar modules, sysadmins can build a runbook automations that will help them further increase the efficiency of their systems management over time.
- Security compliance – ITPA will enable IT teams to control, monitor and secure their infrastructure, while also ensuring it meets necessary compliance requirements.
- Enhanced reporting – Combining ITPA with Remote Support software also enables you to get real time reporting on network activity and performance that provides IT teams with actionable insights.
Streamlining is something that IT departments need to employ as soon as possible, because end-users are only going to get more demanding with expectations for new provisions and working practices: choice of devices, choice of software, and ability to work remotely. Leading to complex mesh of endpoints, disparate operating systems, software versions, application usage and configuration drift on every PC, server, kiosk, point-of-sale system across the enterprise. On top of this, the growth of IoT is also likely to have a massive impact on the complexity of corporate networks.
Streamlining desktop management and systems management through ITPA, means IT teams can more effectively manage this complexity this creates as well as managing security and usability. And they need to act now to regain control of their networks before it’s too late and they suffer a compliance violation or a breach
Fortunately, solutions are readily available. There are a number of remote support solutions that provide automation capabilities, such as Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager, Goverlan Reach, TeamViewer, LogMeIn, and ConnectWise. At the granular level there are some difference in features, for example some still require scripts to be written. Companies would be well served by looking into these platforms in more details and seeing which best fit their organization. But it’s important to remember with these platforms that price is not always an indicator of user friendliness and good fit.