Automation Key to Minimizing Support Costs While Boosting User Productivity

Point of View
As the global economy recovers, IT managers are being asked to deliver projects and services that support organizational growth. However, many IT budgets remain at recession levels, forcing IT managers to squeeze even more from limited resources. With employee productivity at the heart of organizations’ success and efficiency, IT managers must ensure that users can work as effectively as possible. IT outages or data losses can have a significant impact on user productivity, and therefore business productivity. There are increasingly sophisticated infrastructure monitoring, management and automation technologies and tools becoming available, with some built right into devices and operating systems, to assist IT support functions. When combined with improved service delivery practices and tools that give an organization a converged view of the performance of an entire IT environment, these technologies can prevent and resolve issues quickly and proactively – often before users even become aware of a problem.

Developing an Enterprise-Wide, Productivity-Focused Support Model
Gaining the ability to view and manage the performance of an organization’s entire IT environment through a ‘single pane of glass’ is a crucial step towards leveraging automation to ensure incidents are resolved quickly and efficiently, and in line with business priorities. Many organizations have a siloed infrastructure approach, with separate internal and external IT service teams using different monitoring tools to support disparate infrastructure stacks, such as storage, network, end-user environment, applications and security. When an incident occurs, this creates duplication and reduces efficiency and response times as multiple event reports are created in several service queues, and different support teams work separately to identify the location and cause of the issue. By integrating each infrastructure stack’s existing monitoring systems into a converged view of the entire IT environment, or a ‘single pane of glass’, the root cause of an incident can be identified more quickly, automated tools deployed where possible, and the appropriate support team can be assigned to its resolution.

Within most event management services.Even more beneficial to productivity levels. By mapping all of the IT infrastructure components that deliver a business service. Unlocking the full potential of the additional functionality in these and other products. For example. By tracking reports in an IT knowledge management system. an IT manager’s priorities are to maintain user productivity by meeting service level agreements while delivering a service in the most efficient manner to keep costs to a minimum. The most effective way to maximize productivity and reduce IT support costs is by preventing incidents before they happen. can be designed to ensure business value is maximized. However. this consolidated view can allow an organization to prioritize support for the most important business services. For example. Even the creation of the run-books can be automated. The Microsoft® Windows® 7 operating system and Microsoft® System Center Operations Manager 2007 R2 include improved self-healing. performance monitoring and service level management technologies. incidents affecting the components that support the most critical business services (for example. Technologies that automate the identification. represent a large investment for IT organizations. this may be a run-book that automatically reboots a server or re-establishes a network connection when the monitoring system identifies an issue. common incidents with the same root cause can be identified. cutting downtime and reducing IT support requirements. A similar process automates patch deployment across an IT environment. and then the ticketing. for example. Resolving Problems to Maintain Productivity at the Lowest Possible Cost When an incident occurs. queuing priority and workload routing. alerts lack intelligence related to infrastructure and business service impact and the workload presented to problem-solving teams is not prioritized. Automation tools assist in this quest. This captured operation is then used to create a run-book that is manually or automatically activated. automated run-books can be activated to apply the fix to all potentially-affected devices before another incident occurs. the capture of this information can be automated by using a tool that records clicks and keystrokes used by technicians when applying a fix. If the issue is one that could spread to similar devices or configurations. and integrating it into enterprise-wide monitoring systems and process orchestration and other automation tools. isolation and diagnosis of an incident. the gains in lowering support costs and resolving incidents effectively are considerable. can be prioritized for action. the degradation of an application’s performance due to a conflict with a new operating system patch. To eliminate the need to manually input the procedures and operations required to resolve an incident into an IT knowledge management system. PCs with Intel® vPro® technology are designed to help IT professionals diagnose and repair devices remotely. email. supply chain systems or a retail website). technology vendors are building automation capabilities into the newer releases of their products. 2 . To assist in infrastructure monitoring and management.

and searches are made more relevant as information is matched to the profile of a user. all of which bring down support costs considerably.Enhancing Capabilities of Self-Help Portals and Service Desks If an incident cannot be prevented. Using mashup technologies to automate the search. these portals are often static web pages that are difficult and costly to maintain. Another way to reduce service desk calls is to proactively update users on the status of incidents. resolving issues quickly and reducing IT support costs. This knowledge base becomes richer and more relevant as up-to-date and higher-quality information is added. capture. management and automation technologies are becoming more sophisticated and prevalent as IT departments recognize the benefits they deliver in preventing incidents. the IT department will want to prevent a call to the service desk to minimize support costs. portals developed as composite applications provide for a much richer user experience. In addition to typical step-by-step written instructions. They are often hard to search and update as well. Infrastructure monitoring. By automating the remediation. Automation also plays a key role in ensuring users and service desk agents have quick and efficient access to the latest knowledge to expedite incident resolution. resulting in low user adoption and no reduction in service desk call levels. self-help portals can be updated automatically to alert users to the issue and provide the status of resolution measures and timelines so users do not have to call the service desk for updates and can plan their workload accordingly. By underpinning these technologies with an IT support model that is based on an enterprise-wide view of IT performance. IT departments are able to deliver support services that maximize employee productivity and business value. compilation and delivery of this data from multiple online repositories to a single location. more sophisticated and user-friendly tools can be added to the portals that automate simple functions. such as one-click links to add networked printers or map network drives. 3 . many agents are still required to devote a large part of their day to mundane user requests. A converged infrastructure monitoring and management system that automates the resolution of common incidents through process orchestration can often fix a problem before the user is even aware it exists. Unisys estimates that 10-20 percent of service desk call volume can be reduced with higher quality portal interfaces with searchable knowledge bases. low-level issues that could take down whole business systems. In the event of system outages. Up to 80 percent of an average organization’s incident workload is generated by frequently-recurring incident types. However. IT departments are able to more quickly fix common. an organization can expand its support knowledge base and deliver the information to users or service desk agents in a simple portal interface. reduce service desk call volumes and take human hands out of process. While many organizations have introduced self-help portals that provide users with instructions to fix simple IT issues themselves. The knowledge needed to resolve incidents quickly often resides in a variety of repositories within an internal IT department or with external resources such as vendor websites. Despite this.

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