The advantages of system automation tools in remote management systems (White Paper)

 

1. Introduction

System automation tools are used for comprehensive systems management, job scheduling, monitoring, and control of both system and application processes.

This paper discusses the general benefits of system automation tools (Section 2) as well as the benefits of particular automation tools. The particular tools examined in this section include managed antivirus software (Section 3), managed backup software (Section 4), patch management software (Section 5), and other system automation tools (Section 6).

2.      General benefits of system automation tools

System automation tools have four main benefits, namely, (1) encompassing all business models, (2) decreasing costs, (3) allowing your company to focus on clients, and (4) increasing the number of clients. These four benefits are described below.

Encompassing all business models

The majority of system automation tools are designed for all IT support models. These include break/fix, support bank and managed services. Irrespectively of the business model used by your company, system automation tools allow the delivery of high quality IT support services.

Decreasing costs

System automation tools cut costs because they automate manual tasks, such as submission of alerts and performing manual checks on event logs, disk space, and file sizes.

Allowing your company to focus on clients

The use of system automation tools enables you to focus on your clients. This is because they take just 10 minutes to implement and do not require any hardware to be installed and maintained.

Increasing the number of clients

System automation tools alert you before your clients even know that they have an issue. Thus, system automation tools allow you to fix the problem quickly and keep your clients happier.

3.      Managed anti-virus software

For the small businesses and home office users, retail antivirus programs offer a good protection because they are easily managed. However, for the enterprises having hundreds or thousands of PCs to protect, such products are inefficient because they require much oversight and place much control on the end user. One solution to these problems is the use of managed anti-virus software.

Managed antivirus software can be maintained by one or more IT experts with little to no end-user intervention. Although each product has specific features, they all share the advantages caused by the use of system automation tools. These advantages are two, namely, reducing traffic and administration time. Below, they are explained in detail.

Reducing traffic

The first advantage of managed antivirus software is that, in order to install the virus signatures/definitions and software updates, a company needs to connect only one machine to the Internet. Once the update files are downloaded, every computer used by the company can automatically download them from the server and not the Internet. That is why the use of managed antivirus software significantly reduces the Internet traffic within an organization.

Reducing administration time

The use of managed antivirus software reduces the administration time because administrators receive fewer questions from users. The reason for this is that no end-user intervention is required for updating the antivirus software. In most cases, the end user even does not realize that an automatic process of updating the antivirus software is occurring.

“The managed client ensures your anti-virus software regularly checks for virus definition updates, scans local and temporary storage devices and reports back to a managed console so IT is informed of viruses and is able to tell if machines stop getting regular updates.” [1]University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States

 

 

4. Managed backup software

Managed backup systems are usually built around a client software program that runs automatically on a schedule, typically once a day, and normally at night while computers are not used. Usually, the program collects, compresses, encrypts, and transfers the data to the servers of the remote backup service provider. Below, the advantages of the automation tools in managed backup software are examined. These advantages are three, namely, (1) easier use, (2) safer use, (3) reducing time and efforts for making backups.

Easier use

The majority of managed backup software is fully automated on a daily basis or on a frequency set by the user. Consequently, users automatically backup as many times a day as they like. As a result, the users do not have to be involved in taking backups home, switch tapes, and other activities related to the backup process.

Safer

Usually, managed backup software is designed to automatically send to the users an e-mail notification containing a comprehensive report detailing new, changed and deleted file information after every backup. This form of reporting allows users to be in total control of their backup process.

Reducing time and efforts for making backups

Because making online backups is a fully automated process, it reduces the time and efforts that were needed for making traditional backups.

“One of the biggest advantages of managed backup is that staff at your client’s site would not have to physically handle backup disks or tapes. While that may sound like a minor benefit at first, it is actually pretty significant since it removes human errors like forgetting to run the backup program or take tapes home.”[2]Yuval Shavit, Features Writer

 

 

5.      Patch management software

Automated patch management technologies help users look for new patches, scan their networks for vulnerable systems and, if necessary, automatically distribute the appropriate patches.

The benefits of automating patch deployment include reduction of labor costs, quick deployment, and correction of security flaws within a relatively short period of time.

 “Patch management seems to have found itself a full-time position within IT security departments.” [3]Anthony DeVoto, Windows NT administrator at Volvo Finance North America

 

 

6.       Other automated tools in remote management systems

Automated tools are also used in remote management systems aiming at asset tracking, managing of devices, optimizing device usage and reducing total cost of ownership (TCO). The driving force behind the use of automated tools is their efficiency and reliability. For instance, automated asset tracking technologies are more effective than manual inventories because they can capture data five times faster than an employee can.

 “Managing a fleet of networked printers and multifunction products without automated tools is expensive, time-consuming and is a constant challenge.”[4]Shun Sato, senior vice president of marketing for Ricoh Americas

 

 

7.      Conclusion

As a company grows over time, it faces difficulties to maintain control over the network. These difficulties can be overcome by using tools that can help automate repetitive and manual IT tasks and ensure better visibility of the devices and applications used for business operations. As this paper has shown, the automated tools can be perfectly used in managed antivirus software, managed backup software, and other remote management software.



[1] Source: http://www.biochem.wisc.edu/it/resources.aspx

[2] Source: http://searchstoragechannel.techtarget.com/feature/Providing-managed-backup-services

[4] Source: http://www.ricoh-usa.com/news/news_release.aspx?prid=569&alnv=pr

Photo: Arjan Richter, http://www.flickr.com/photos/arjanrichter/5467235641/sizes/z/in/photostream/

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