Between maintaining the current IT environment and driving innovation, IT departments have had to figure out how to manage their increasingly complex environments with fewer resources and less budget and time.
Automating otherwise time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks can not only enable you to chip away at your ever-growing workload faster, but can increase your ability to adapt to changes in your environment — two crucial success factors in today's evergreen IT landscapes.
But where do you start? Here are six simple, yet highly effective IT automation opportunities that you might not have explored yet, but are easily accomplished:
#1: Automatically Enforce Whitelisting / Blacklisting Of Software
With application sprawl growing rampant in most large organizations, IT is constantly playing catch-up when it comes to which apps end users or even Shadow IT teams are installing. This decentralized rogue move creates many problems, e.g., security vulnerabilities, license overspending, and increased maintenance.
There are two ways, enterprises can eliminate this problem: by either whitelisting approved applications and denying every other application, or by blacklisting apps that are not allowed but permit the installation of all others. While whitelisting is the more secure method of keeping a lid on application sprawl, some organizations use blacklisting as their preferred method. Either way, tight enforcement is key!
By using an automation framework solution, like Access Agent, you can create a repository of whitelisted or blacklisted (depending on your strategy) applications and control what can be run, installed, and used in your environment. It also lets you run a report to the compliance department.
#2: Automatically Enforce Regular Reboots
You know how important rebooting is for the health, performance, and stability of your devices. For example, it flushes your random access memory (RAM), which helps your machine to run faster and more efficiently.
But with operating systems getting more efficient and being able to just put the device to sleep at night, most end users don't reboot their computers on a regular basis — not to speak of nightly. However, IT teams are increasingly looking for ways to enforce nightly shutdowns, which can easily be done by creating a rule in Access Agent. Just pick the group of devices to enforce this rule on, add a few parameters, and you are done.
Pro Tip: Be sure to communicate this change ahead of time and explain the benefits of a nightly reboot.
#3: Automatically Run Patches Based On Set Schedules
Speaking of regular cycles, let's talk about patches.
The #1 external concern for CEOs in 2019 is cybersecurity, including data breaches which on average cost organizations $3.9 million. One of the leading causes for data breaches is unpatched software. In fact, according to the 2017 Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report, 80% of hacking attacks could be prevented by strengthening passwords and installing software patches.
If this hasn't convinced you yet, just take a look at the volume and impact of last month's Microsoft Windows 10 Quality Update (a.k.a. Patch Tuesday) that included 17 fixes, 12 of which were critical and 14 user targeted.
However, most organizations don't have a strict and enforced patch management and update haphazardly at best. By using automation and setting a predefined patch schedule, you ensure your environment will always be up-to-date and more secure.
#4: Proactively Detect Issues
IT serves a crucial function by keeping the business running. Yet, end users are losing 2 days worth of productivity each month because of IT issues. Oftentimes, we only become aware of lingering issues when they become bigger problems.
With Access Agent's built-in listeners you can detect issues in your desktop environment and carry out fixes automatically. For example, Agent can detect processes that use too much memory or stop or restart a process to fix an issue.
#5: Segment Your IT Environment
A few months ago, we wrote about how Oracle is now charging for the usage and support of its Java SE and Java Development Tools. But how do you know which of your applications have this particular Java SDK embedded?
Use Access Agent to segment your entire IT environment within seconds based on certain criteria, i.e., by a certain type of CPU. It creates a trustworthy repository of data (software, version, etc.) in a centralized database, allowing you to easily run queries on your devices, applications, and more.
#6: Surveying Your User Base
Wouldn't it be nice to be able to quickly survey your user base to validate certain assumptions, collect their input, or hear their feedback on certain matters? With Access Agent, you can use automation to quickly push out a survey to any particular (group of) users. It also integrates with back-end systems such as your Human Resources system, Microsoft Active Directory, and others.
None of the tasks above are rocket science, but they all can be tedious, labor-intensive, and lengthy if done manually. By deploying automation to do these for you, you become faster and more agile, and you free up time for other, more mission-critical tasks. However, this by no means is an exhaustive list. It is meant as an inspiration to get you started with IT Automation, and there are so many other tasks that can be automated.