Looking at IT marketing today, you might think that everyone was deploying the latest and greatest technologies as soon as they hit the market. While the suggested benefits of many new technologies such as cloud computing and virtualisation are appealing, the reality for many companies is that the cost and time taken to ‘keep the lights on’ often leaves little room for new technology investment.
With increased pressure to deliver more effective and efficient services, how can housing providers break the cycle of endless system maintenance and liberate the resources and budget needed to drive IT innovation? The automation of day-to-day system management activities may be the answer.
In common with most companies, housing providers’ computing environments typically comprise a mix of different desktops that have been acquired over time, incorporating different versions and brands of PCs and laptops. Aside from hardware, there are multiple operating systems and applications to consider as well. Users will have a mix of office productivity applications as well as generic tools like Adobe Reader, with some also having role-specific business applications.
For IT managers and administrators, systems management is a continuous task, covering everything involved in managing the lifecycle of IT assets, from the initial deployment of system images and desktop hardware, patches and updates, to systems being decommissioned or uninstalled. Added to this is the complexity of distributed environments where IT resources are also needed to manage IT services in remote branch offices.
The difficulty for most companies is because systems management is so critical to day-to-day staff productivity, there is simply no room to de-prioritise the tasks involved. However, automation offers a respite by streamlining routine tasks, removing the need to repeatedly perform the same manual tasks to keep the systems running.
Tasks that consume IT time and resources on a daily basis include patching, systems deployment and inventory. Rather than use non-integrated point solutions for each task, IT managers can take an integrated approach that links together common IT functions to drive efficiency and streamline management processes.
Take patching, for example – the multiplicity of applications, software and operating systems means that the IT department often doesn’t have all its patches in one place. This is not only frustrating for the IT team from a time-wasting perspective, but it can also result in some PCs and laptops missing out on critical updates, which in turn may lead to security breaches.
Automating routine tasks
By centralising patching and using a tool to routinely update applications and operating systems, all the patches can be put together in one place and then rolled out automatically. Implementing a patch management tool can significantly reduce the time you spend managing your desktops as well as resulting in a more secure network.
Centralising and automating systems management tasks like patching enables IT teams to manage client systems more effectively throughout their building and in remote sites as well. For IT, the benefit is an improved view of all their systems, more rapid problem resolution and a more secure network. For the user, it means fewer interruptions to the working day as updates and other maintenance tasks can be scheduled outside normal working hours.
Tasks that are often regarded as the basics of IT management are still some of the most important. However, if the IT team is to keep pace with the needs of the business, a more automated approach can help them to be more efficient and to keep pace with innovation.
With a comprehensive system management tool in place, housing providers can minimise the time spent on routine tasks and free up staff time for more strategic projects. This not only saves time and money that can be dedicated to improving overall business performance and introducing new services, it also makes life more enjoyable and rewarding for IT professionals.
Seann Gardiner is the EMEA regional sales director for Dell KACE.