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    8 Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Monitoring and Management

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Wed, Sep 11,2013 @ 09:06 PM

    Schematic of Remote Computer Support

    If you're considering ways to keep your infrastructure up and running while cutting costs AND completing your projects on time, you no doubt have given some thought to remote tech support. 

    Some while ago, I was given the assignment of growing a channel for a company offering remote monitoring. Since I knew nothing about it, I relied on my marketing background to do a market analysis and see what I could learn. I'll skip replaying the entire exercise and jump right to the part where I compared the various competitors in this space.

    There are a number of offerings out there worth considering and really there probably isn't one solution that fits all. That's why you should consider finding a partner who understands the idea of scalability. Some vendors have a "winner take all" attitude where they want your entire infrastructure and the services they offer are blanketed. Meaning, they will outline their services and that is what you must take if you take anything at all.

    So look for a vendor who truly wants to "partner" with you. Someone who will take the time to interview you to learn where you really need help. A true partner will understand that you don't really want to hand everything over. All you want is to have someone take the nuisance factor out of the day to day so that you and your team can focus more on innovation and on the new technologies that will make you money.

    But, in my opinion, here are the minimums you should expect from your remote tech support group. For reference, let's talk Windows.

    1. 24 X 7 monitoring of your Windows servers and OS - To clarify, this means physical AND virtual servers. Your new vendor should have the resources to not only monitor your environment around the clock, they should also have the know-how to react to problems, regardless of when they occur. Any time of day. Any day of the year.
    2. Alert Validation and Escalation - Noise from unwanted alerts is one of the number one causes of frustration in operations. At least 85% of alerts generated from devices or other monitoring tools are not actionable. The problem is that it isn't possible to always know which alerts you should read and which ones you should trash. You want a vendor who knows the difference and can separate the chicken salad from the chicken ----, well, you know what I mean.
    3. Run-book - If your monitoring vendor has a clue, they know that you really don't need to be bothered by every incident. Sometimes, all that is required is a simple re-boot. A good vendor will have a run-book that is your instructions on the steps to take to remediate a problem before they ask for your attention.
    4. OS Patching - A good vendor will have a schedule for reviewing the new releases on "Patch Tuesday" and for testing them, prior to installing them on your systems. As well, the particulars to your schedule need to be customized to your requirements.
    5. Anti-Virus Updates - (Yawn) which of your engineers do you really want doing this kind of work?
    6. Verifying Completion of Backup Jobs - Very simple here. You will want your vendor to notify you of the successful completion of backups.
    7. Integration with your service desk tool. Every remote tech support vendor will have their own tool for opening tickets and monitoring their progress. What you don't want to do is learn their system on top of learning your own. Your new vendor will have the expertise to integrate their ticketing system with your ITSM tool (ServiceNow for example).
    8. Dashboards and reporting - Here, you just want to be able to see whatever your remote tech support group is looking at. One window for all. Plus, weekly/monthly/quarterly reporting of the activity and potential problem areas.
    Beyond these standard services, look for a vendor who will also offer additional services, like trouble-shooting, root-cause analysis and maintenance vendor coordination.
    If you do your homework and shop wisely, you will find a good partner who will rid you of the headache of doing mundane, routine support work and free you up to do more towards getting ahead of the competition.

    Topics: IT Solutions, Managed IT Services, Remote Tech Support

    Analytics Big as IT Solution at ServiceNow Show

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Wed, May 15,2013 @ 11:32 AM

    Service Now Analytics a Hit

     

    The drive for increased efficiencies in IT continues to gather momentum and analytics was definitely a hot topic at this year's ServiceNow Users Convention in Las Vegas. The show, "Knowledge 13" ran May 12th thru the 16th at the spaceous Aria hotel and casino.

    Without exageration the most popular BI solution for ServiceNow is Mirror 42. This is a plug-in tool that appears to the user within the UI of ServiceNow and is brought to you by the same folks who sponsor the popular KPI Library, (www.kpilibrary.com) an online gathering place of nearly 450,000 members who share key performance indicators for their business and various ways in which these indicators drive continuous improvement within their organizations.

    Mirror 42 matches many of these same KPIs with data drawn directly out of ServiceNow, the leading SaaS IT Service Management tool in the world. For the beginning Mirror 42 customer, much of the focus is on incident management and the various performance indicators which reflect trends in keeping up with the resolution of incidents and the resulting service tickets generated and closed.

    ServiceNow has several reporting functions of its own but for many who want to dig deeper and promote efficiency, Mirror 42 seemed to have caught their attention at this show. You can see from the photo (above) there was barely enough room for the number of people who wanted to catch a look and the hear the story.

    One of the most compelling stories involves a chart that is an actual customer's result of using Mirror 42. This particular customer implemented the M42 solution and kept the reports to himself and to a small number of management colleagues for a period of nearly 2 weeks. The number of open incidents remained fairly static. But, after sharing the reports with everyone in the organization, the number of open incidents dropped dramatically. Nearly 60% in the ensuing 4-6 week period.

    In his keynote address to the ServiceNow faithfull, CEO Frank Slootman, covered the challenges facing IT executives in the face of a changing IT landscape. "Changing IT is far easier than changing behavior," said Slootman. By this he is talking about the need for IT to change its focus from technology to service.

    One way to change culture is by socializing trends in processes. In the Mirror 42 scorecard below, you will see an actual case of a change from within the IT team by simply publicizing results. It is dramatic enough to note that the number of Open Incidents declined over 60% in 2 months after implementing Mirror 42. But, what is more relevant is that the IT chief in charge of this project kept this scorecard from the team and shared it only with a handful of managers. After the first two weeks, the decision was made to publicize the scorecard to the entire IT team. Note the dramatic decline in open incidents as a result!

    Socializing KPIs Produces Results

    What became obvious is that showing a team their particular score card provides the kind of real-time feedback that drives action.

    Getting better, more sophisticated KPI metrics is certainly the goal of many. But motivating the troops to better performance is the goal of all. Good people don't try to deliver poor performance. They just need to see what good performance looks like. In the words of W. Edwards Demming, "You can't manage what you don't measure."

    There are several game-changing solutions here at Knowledge 13. Some boardering on A.I. One solution called NextThink measures end user activity to find problems before they surface. Based upon activity in the enterprise it can save user actions to a big data file and present anomolies to management. In one example NextThink Chief Marketing Officer Poul Nielsen shared a story of an organization that was rolling our an upgrade to their ERP. On a Friday afternoon 10 people tried to log on and failed. But, instead of calling the help desk, they just abandoned the activity and went home for the weekend, thinking they'd try again on Monday. NextThink reported to the IT chief that 10 users tried to log on and failed and, "You have a problem."

    It's clear that the importance of monitoring service will only gain momentum and from what I saw at this show, the ServiceNow community could well be leading the way.

     

    Topics: IT Solutions, Managed IT Services

    Making IT Count – The Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Management

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Tue, Apr 09,2013 @ 01:51 PM

    Guest Blog by Chris Joseph, VP Ops, NetEnrich, Inc.

    IT has become a power play for companies big and small. Why? Because if used properly, it can deliver serious business advantages to both the top, and bottom line.

    Whether you are a CEO, CFO or CIO, your top priorities likely include finding ways to increase profitability, grow revenues and reduce costs – or at minimum keep them in line. One of the fastest and most common ways to achieve any of these objectives is through IT.

    But not all IT solutions and services are created equal. In fact, the choices you make when it comes down to picking your services provider and deploying a particular solution are often what separate the good from the great. 

    A good example of this is remote infrastructure management services, or RIM. RIM is defined as the process of remotely managing IT infrastructure such as servers, network devices, storage, applications, virtualization, desktops and others

    Benefits of Remote Monitoring

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Over the past eight years, we have worked with hundreds of enterprises, providing CEOs, CFOs and CIOs with the ability to leverage the RIM model to reduce costs by 30-40% using the six key elements of RIM:

    1. Consolidate and integrate your IT Operations Management (ITOM) and IT Service Management (ITSM) tools
    2. Automate processes
    3. Re-organize to a shared services model to exploit economies of scale and scope
    4. Use offshore delivery
    5. Institute best practices
    6. Use agile engagement models.  

    To learn more about the benefits of partnering with NetEnrich to deploy the RIM model, drop me a line at daveb@liftoffit.com.

    - Chris Joseph

     

    Topics: IT Solutions, Managed IT Services

    IT Solution - Start your new business for under $100

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Tue, Mar 27,2012 @ 12:22 PM

    An "IT Solutfree!ion" used to almost always mean either you were about to buy hardware, like a server, storage or networking device. Or it meant software. Much of the focus was on the "IT" portion of the phrase. Further, these types of solutions also almost always meant a heavy investment.

    With the advent of cloud computing, today the emphasis is much more on the "Solution" part of the phrase. And not always does it mean it has to cost a lot. For example, LiftOff IT was started for less than $100. For less than $60, we reserved a URL and paid for hosting of our website. We used www.1and1.com. But, the other favorites in the market are www.bluehost.com and www.hostgator.com. All of these options are available for just a few dollars a month.

    We already had laptops so that was a zero cost. Office software? Microsoft Office 360 - $6/month. Logo? Self-designed on Inkscape - software cost - zero.

    Now, how about a CRM? We like Salesforce.com but, in an effort to keep costs down all we did is search "Free CRM" on the internet and we found www.zoho.com. We also wanted to send out an email to all of our friends and past customers so we signed up for www.mailchimp.com and guess what it cost? Right! Nothing.

    So really the only thing we needed next are business cards. Bummer. We had to buy these at MinuteMan Press for less than $30.

    If you're keeping track, you're at $96. Not bad huh?

    It seems as though solutions marketers are coming to the realization that there's nothing like the word "free" to get customers to give them a try. So, yes there is a catch... many of these "free" offerings are for the "limited editions" or "trial editions." But, if you're trying to start your business on a shoe string, these options sure help to help your new business achieve LiftOff.

    Topics: IT Solutions, cloud computing