How to Boost Your Team’s Efficiency by Automating IT Processes
Given the demand for timely action in today's business landscape, automation can help organizations and their IT teams operate more efficiently.
Written by Ashley Leonard, CEO and President at Syxsense
IT teams are responsible for making sure that all technologies and devices used in the workplace work. And, thanks to the widespread adoption of technology by businesses, almost all tasks and processes now require their participation and involvement.
Organizations are shifting many of their workloads to the cloud. So, aside from tending to the on-premises infrastructure, IT teams also have to perform other tasks such as support and monitor access and subscriptions to these cloud services. The explosion of affordable hardware, mobile devices, and the Internet-of-Things is also adding more endpoints to their custody. The prevalence of cyberattacks has also placed added burden on them to secure the network and mitigate threats.
Then there are the seemingly minor daily concerns such as requests for password resets, printer toner replacement, or complaints on slow internet from their colleagues that could pile up. Between 20 to 50 percent of help desk tickets are password reset requests.
IT management has become a monumental undertaking. Fortunately, IT teams are able to manage all these tasks through automation. IT automation is about using tools that monitor the network, watch out for certain conditions, and trigger actions that would readily address issues.
Firewalls and safe email policies can prevent many attacks, but hackers can just as easily gain access to your information through un-patched, out-of-date software. Each of your software tools should be updated regularly to mitigate potential risks. Automating patch deployment can ensure that no update slips through the cracks.
Take the case of software updates. Performed manually, IT staff of a medium-sized organization could be looking at working on hundreds or even thousands of devices. But through automation, these updates could now be configured to download and install as scheduled, minimizing the work for teams.
Most IT processes can be automated and companies should consider leveraging this capability to boost their IT team’s efficiency and effectiveness. Here are other areas of IT management where automation can be used.
Asset Discovery and Tracking
IT can be one of the more expensive investments companies can make. As such, it’s important for IT teams to be able to track all their employees’ digital assets including all hardware, software, and appliances. Knowing the specific assets available to them can help organizations better deploy resources.
IT management platforms can help quickly build such lists through capabilities such as automated network discovery and inventory. Devices connected to the network are automatically profiled including all hardware specifications and the list of installed software in each device.
Knowing what assets are assigned to staff could also encourage accountability from end users. Hardware loss and theft is quite common. One study revealed that 84 percent of businesses surveyed reported losing laptops. Having a historical record of inventories can also help companies track if certain devices become missing.
Software and Patch Deployment
Keeping software and hardware up-to-date is considered good practice. Application developers and hardware manufacturers periodically release updates and patches to their products which may contain new features and functionalities or address vulnerabilities.
Deploying software and patches typically requires identifying affected endpoints and installing the updates. Doing this manually can take quite a lot of time considering patch deployment is a time-critical task.
Fortunately, the process can likewise be automated where management platforms can used to automatically check for updates from developers, identify target endpoints within the network, and deploy the patches.
Backups and Recovery
Data is the lifeblood of most organizations these days so working without data backups can be a disaster waiting to happen. Work can be set back months, even years, should company data become lost or corrupted.
Conventionally, backups are done through scheduled remote uploads and redundant storage. However, workplaces are changing. Businesses can generate and process large volumes of data within a day so even scheduled backups may not be enough to ensure data protection. Teams may also involve workers located offsite making on-premises storage inadequate to store data coming from external sources.
New solutions such as continuous data protection (CDP) can be used to automatically detect any changes to work files and folders and back these changes up to a secure location in real time. CDP solutions even keep revision histories of these files so users can revert back to a previous version in case there are issues with their current version. This way, all company data are safely stored. In addition, these solutions can be used with mechanisms that initiate failover and recovery in case of outage or downtime.
Security Monitoring and Response
Cybersecurity has become top a priority for IT teams given how rampant attacks have become. Attacks can happen any time especially now that attackers are also using automation to launch breach attempts.
IT teams now need to actively monitor and respond to threats. Unfortunately, capable security talent are rare and expensive. More than half of organizations claim that there’s a worrying shortage of cybersecurity skills. To bridge this gap, organizations can rely on automation to help them deal with threats.
Automation has found its way to various security tasks. Anti-malware tools not only perform real-time scanning of devices but they can also automatically quarantine or even send samples for analysis. Security platforms like Syxsense can also detect and block malicious traffic from accessing networks. Automation can also be used to take machines offline in cases they are affected by recently discovered vulnerabilities. This way, any potential damage can be avoided.
Given the demand for swift and timely action in today’s business landscape, automation can truly help organizations and their IT teams operate more efficiently. Automation doesn’t only help accomplish tasks faster but it can also minimize human error where lapses, incompetence, or fatigue, could lead to significant issues. Automation of a wide variety of IT tasks also frees up the team to refocus their efforts on more strategic and creative initiatives.