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Repeating an IT task for the 10th time? It's time for it automation.

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[fa icon="pencil'] Posted by Lewan Solutions [fa icon="calendar"] March 16, 2016


Do you find yourself buried under repetitive processes like managing help desk tickets for account creation/deletion, password resets or unlocks? Or creating virtual machines for developers and DBA's? Or spending your day on tasks which add limited value beyond "completing the workflow"?

Have you ever thought about how much time could be saved if you or your staff didn't have to spend time worrying about completing these routine tasks? Or how happy your end users would be if you completed these tasks faster? Or the frustration avoided if these tasks were completed consistently every single time?

It's all possible with Digital Workspace & IT automation.

First, let me tell you a story about a client struggling with these exact issues. In that world we were some 15,000 FTE and for various reasons we had roughly 30,000 users in our directories. Yes plural directories. We had our ERP system, our Active Directory, our NIS database, our e-Directory system, Campus Pipeline, and legacy NT domain. Those are just the "heavy hitters" that come to mind now 7 years later. We also had an onboard / offboard rate of about 9,000 users per year (each way). We also believed strongly in a zero-privilege help desk wherein root/admin/domain-administrator rights for any given system were restricted to the 2-3 people directly responsible for the maintenance and operations of that system. You can imagine the amount of churn that environment created for the administrators.

So how did we deal with this back then?

The answer used to be manual automation (an oxymoron, I know). Back in the day we had a gentleman who worked in our service desk, whose job was to create tools to allow the service desk to complete common tasks like creating/deleting accounts across all directories, resetting passwords, and changing group memberships.

He spent his time learning how this needed to happen in each of these environments and about the API's that existed for each. Then he had to go ask each of the admin groups for rights to be able to proxy these activities into each system on behalf of the service desk. As a result of his efforts we were able to transfer most of the routine tasks from the admin teams to the service desk.

Later as we were analyzing service desk tickets we began to target specific classes of tickets for user self-service. Password resets, mail and disk quotas, and the like. Simple changes that were happening a lot.

Our programmer then had to create an interface for users to perform these tasks in, to be able to authorize users when they'd forgotten their password, and to handle collecting (and validating) billing information for activities that weren't free.

Yes, his efforts let us keep our admin teams small - typically 2 or 3 individuals with responsibility for any given system. And yes, it also let us keep our service desk small, 8-12 FTE's supporting our 30K users. But the cost was one individual who was dedicated full time to creating the automation.

Well, like I said, that was then, this is now...

Today RES Software's Service Store and Automation Offerings allow you to create these workflows, zero privilege helpdesk, and self-service offerings without needing to be a programmer; without having to learn API's and without having to create a user interface. It's all point-and-click.

RES_automation_diagram.pngPhoto Credit: RES

Recently a RES Engineer and I sat down with the product to see what it could do.

In the space of an afternoon the RES Systems Engineer walked me through installing the product, establishing the user self-service portal, enrolling my users into it, and creating workflows to create users, delete users, create virtual machines, deliver applications (with approval) and to support self-service password reset via a 3-factor validation scheme. Not bad for a day's work.

So, how truly automated is your automation? Does your team need to be more efficient? Do you have routine tasks you're performing several times a month? How much time could a product like this could save you? To find out, Contact Us  for an assessment. We offer project consultation and planning to full service implementation.

Topics: Managed Services, IT Solutions, RES Software

Lewan Solutions
Written by Lewan Solutions

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