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    Improve Your NOC Operation With This One Managed IT Service.

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Fri, Nov 28,2014 @ 11:17 AM

    By most conservative estimates, 85% of the alerts being generated by your various monitoring solutions are noise. "Noise" is a term IT operators use to describe the flood of alerts that fill up email boxes, which don't require any action. To compound the problem, operators can't be certain which of the landslide of alerts need attention and which ones do not.

    The problem is that every system, device and application in the environment is alerting you to something. Constantly. And because technology is multiplying by the day and data is becoming cheaper to provide, alerting is getting out of hand. So many alerts that it can easily reach 10,000 per week in a standard mid-enterprise environment. And there are some reading this who would love such a small number.



    Alert Filtering

    How are you handling noise?


    Safe to say if you go into any IT operations group and ask about the policy for looking at and/or responding to alerts, you'll get a mixture of answers. Often accompanied with an occasional chuckle, which to me means someone thinks the procedure could be better. The point is, they're a pain to keep up with and cause a lot of lost time opening and reading alerts that require little, if any attention.

    There's nothing like a human.

    A solution we implement for our clients is a combination of Vistara, a SaaS IT operations platform and NetEnrich. NetEnrich is essentially IT operations as a service. This 1-2 punch combines technology and human intervention that in a typical scenario turns tens of thousands of alerts into just a handful of service tickets. 

    With thousands of customers' systems and networks being monitored, knowing which alerts need attention is a source of NetEnrich's success. NetEnrich, is a 300-400 person engineering company with HQ in San Jose and operations in Hyderabad, India has been perfecting the use of its star IP, Vistara (Vistarait.com) for at least 10 years. Vistara can be one of two things: 1.) the actual monitoring tool 2.) collector/aggregator of alerts generated by other monitoring tools. Or, both. With Vistara, all devices in your environment are visible regardless of their physical location. Vistara is an up-to-date IT operations tool that sees all. Now event correlation can be handled in one place.

    The beauty of the combination is this, for about the cost of a good new monitoring solution, you can also get humans to keep watch over it. Alerts are forwarded via email OR thru API integration with your ITSM, tickets are generated by NetEnrich directly into your service portal. You can add services or subtract them as time goes on. For a few bucks more you can add support like OS patching, automated run-book or even full management of an environment, including trouble-shooting, RCA and OEM vendor management. See "Scalable Workforce."

    It gets better.

    Most NOC operations are staffed by the least number of people needed to cover 24x7x365. Recruiting and keeping people who want to do this work can be challenging, particularly if you need people with skills. You might have the right number of people but not the right skill sets to keep up. When you use a share services, remote model like NetEnrich, you have dozens of people at any hour of the day with a deep understanding of every kind of technology being monitored. This means you are no longer limited by the skill sets of your own people. (8 Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Monitoring and Management)

    If monitoring or remote IT support are on your to-do list for 2015, consider a solution that not only provides unified monitoring and alerting but also has a support component that you can dial in by technology. Maybe you want more help managing Exchange than you do with your Linux servers - or the other way around. Depending upon your requirements, these solutions can be customized to your situation. More like "co-sourcing" than "out-sourcing."

    So, buy new monitoring. Or, buy monitoring with managed IT services that come with it. Dish out the work you don't want to do (or aren't good at) to remote support and focus on what you want to do. In a majority of the time, the remote operators will do it better and for less money than it costs you to do it yourself.

    Topics: Managed IT Services, Remote Tech Support

    7 Questions to Ask Yourself if You're Ready for Managed IT Services?

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Tue, Oct 28,2014 @ 04:12 PM


    iStock_000035696454Medium-resized-600-346082-edited

    If you are a small business owner and considering whether or not Managed IT Services will benefit your company, the answer is almost always- yes. There is little doubt that most small businesses can benefit, yet that in itself does not always justify the cost of bringing on a third party provider. Accepting that Managed IT Services Providers (MSP) can offer solutions to common problems found in small business operation, the real question is when it makes sense to switch from in house IT solutions to Managed Services.

    There is a good chance if you are already considering using a MSP, the time might be near when you are ready to make the switch. Small business owners do not have the luxury of a never ending IT budget, therefore it is very important to recognize when your current IT management is no longer cost effective. For most small businesses this occurs when the business grows to the point of needing either a contract with a local service provider who is "on call" for IT needs or hiring a full time IT person to remain on staff. There is of course another option for small business owners to consider and that is hiring a MSPr to oversee their IT needs.

    If you are still unsure that your business is ready for the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

    1. Do you find IT costs are continually increasing?
    2. Is it difficult to find and retain quality IT staff?
    3. Is your network and workstation performance and speed decreasing?
    4. Are your employees spending more time dealing with IT issues than focusing on job they have been hired to perform?
    5. Do you have problems with viruses, spyware and other security issues that could threaten the confidentiality of proprietary information?
    6. In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, would your network be at risk? Would recovery be a concern?
    7. Do you find network downtime is increasing?

    If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then your business is ready to investigate.

    Now that you have determined Managed IT Services are right for your business, the next challenge is finding the right provider of these services. This is a decision that should not be made lightly or rushed as the wrong provider can end up costing your company more money than your current situation. Before you begin the search for a provider you should first consider your IT budget as well as issues or problems you want to be addressed.

    It is important to remember that Managed IT Services are not a one-size-fits-all type of solution to business problems. Each business and industry has their own issues to contend with and a qualified Services Provider will work with you to find the solutions that will benefit your company the most. If a potential provider is more intent on selling you services and not listening to the needs of your business, move on to another provider who is willing to listen to your concerns and offer customized solutions that address these needs.

    The point of outsourcing your IT management is to save money while freeing up time to focus on other business operations. For this reason it pays to put forth the effort to find the best MSP to oversee your technology needs.

    Topics: Managed IT Services

    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 Support via "Scalable Workforce."

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Tue, Jul 24,2012 @ 04:55 PM

    logo netenrich1 resized 600

    IT support in Seattle and around the world is taking on new meaning.

    In my many years of professional selling I’ve seen most all of the expected responses from prospects. Anything from, “That looks interesting, let’s talk again soon,” to obvious disinterest. Fortunately, I’ve never been thrown out of anyone’s office (yet). But, I’ve rarely seen the all-out enthusiasm that I’m now seeing from IT Ops about the combination of monitoring/remediation/scalable workforce. Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve actually received an email from one client saying, “I’m so excited!”? That’s a first!

    I’m talking about the services provided by NetEnrich. Or should I say the tools? Or the processes? Actually, it’s all of the above. What’s different is that NetEnrich uses a combination of tools, people and process to provide a scalable layer of resources to an IT environment that allows:

    1. Closet-to-cloud view of all resources on a single pane of glass

    2. See exactly the same dashboards and reporting views as your remote engineers

    3. Total elimination of false alerts and smart-escalation of real alerts

    4. Optional SOP functions like OS & antivirus patching and updates

    5. Optional application monitoring and remediation (depending upon your preferences)

    6. Optional root-cause analysis, problem management & vendor coordination

    7. Default, auditable, video recording of all engineering sessions for later review

    What may be most impressive is the ability to scale these services up or down at any point in time depending upon demand on staff.

    Talk about a game-changer. There were six people in one recent meeting. All of them brought in their laptops and opened them up and started clacking away on their keyboards while a NetEnrich exec began his presentation. By the middle of the meeting the laptops were closed and all eyes were on the monitor. And by the end of the meeting the question was, "When can we meet again? We didn't get enough time today."

    I'm not saying this is easy to sell however. There's always the perceived threat that this will eliminate jobs. Which may only be true if you are an entry-level engineer. The real possibility is that the jobs in-house people hold will become more interesting. NetEnrich also means organizational change that is designed to provide benefits for years to come and not everyone knows immediately how they will re-deploy their workforce. Those plans sometimes take a while to germinate. In other words, while NetEnrich provides a new way for IT organizations to become more effective and efficient. It's not a snap decision.

    What's really new here is the ability to insert a buffering layer of support through the internet that smoothes out the deficiencies of your in-house staff. Which in the final analysis allows business to become more competitive.

    The "Cloud" to most folks is only now beginning to make sense in terms of software-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, etc. Now the boundaries have been extended to include human resources-as-a-service. Who knows what we'll see next. Perhaps bundled-resources-as-a-service?

    Topics: Managed IT Services

    Outsource IT - OR - "Co-source IT?"

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Fri, Apr 20,2012 @ 09:33 AM


    Outsourced IT has been around a while. Most organizations use it in one form or another. The reason it exists is for these basic reasons:
    1. Bandwidth - Internal staff can't get everything done.
    2. Expertise - For specialized applications and systems.
    3. Cost - Why burn your level 2&3 engineers' time on low priority jobs?
    The traditional IT solutions:
    1. Software - (aka "Tools") presented as the better way for you to manage the task yourself. ... after you customize and learn how to manage it.
    2. Outsourced people - people who understand your systems or your tools as well, if not better than you. This is great when you can find a resource where the goals and SOWs are well defined.
    Enter "Co-sourcing." This is a unique solution now available through the cloud that combines tools, people and process into "IT As A Service." (see Remote Infrastructure Management)

    One of the cloud solution providers we represent delivers approximately 250 software, network, systems and storage engineers who are online and able to augment our monitoring solution 24X7. Tools, humans and process all available thru the cloud. Now you are able to custom design a solution that does these things:
    1. Take over the mundane tasks that keep your better engineers from accomplishing the truly innovative tasks
    2. Scalable workforce in problem areas
    3. Provides near instantaneous reports for your management
    4. Provides visibility for clarity and decision making
    5. Records all engineering sessions for audit

    Remote Infrastructure Management

    Remote Infrastructure Management

    On the most basic level, simple remote monitoring of your infrastructure means that easily 90% of the alerts you receive are eliminated. Think of the time that is given back to you when you don't have to respond to every non-threatening message from your robots. For the alerts that truly need attention, most of them can be managed online and escalated to the next level of service from any number of different, qualified techs.

    What's the real cost of having your systems engineers doing patch management?

    Most will admit that having their systems engineers doing patch management is not the highest use of their time. Yet, it needs to be done, right? Again, perhaps it makes sense to have your co-sourced engineers do this to allow your people to do the things that will help to make your organization more competitive.

    But, the real cost may not be the direct cost of your level 2 or 3 engineers. In fact, it may not even be the opportunity cost associated with keeping them from doing the cool stuff. What might be the even higher cost is the cost of replacing that engineer when he or she heads off into the sunset to find a job that is more challenging.

    Need extra horsepower?

    What if what you really need is a half of a Citrix engineer or someone who can double-check your network architecture or any of a number of other specialized disciplines? Here is where you can utilize IT-As-A-Service to organize on-demand services through the cloud. Again think of mixing tools with people and process and add on the ability to turn these augmented solutions on and off.

    Session recording.

    This next feature falls on the "tool" side of the equation and is one of the coolest I have seen. With monitoring comes the ability to record every single online session that takes place in your environment. You just find the session in your log and click to view every mouse-click and keyboard stroke from logon to logoff. Every session. Cool huh?

    ROI

    Imagine what life would be like if you could eliminate 90-95% of the alerts from your servers. What would that be worth to you in regained, valuable time? 

    Allow yourself to do what you do best through Co-sourcing.

    How can you meld the efficientcies of using outside help to augment your inside know-how to produce the most effcient human resource mix? Think co-sourcing.

    Topics: Managed IT Services