Self-healing automations allow CIOs to meet new challenges

According to CIO magazine one of the “Top Actions CIOs should take in 2016″ is to redesign the workforce. They say “to maximize IT talent and meet digital needs of the future, changes to the roles and responsibilities must be considered. IT work is evolving beyond managing programs and developing software…”

This has several ramifications. One of which is the IT specialist must now (more than ever) wear multiple hats. However, this is not as burdensome an issue as once thought. With the application of automation for certain tasks once exclusively reserved for hands-on attention, the IT specialist , can transcend beyond the plugger of cables or writer of code. The article agrees: “CIOs also need to develop a workforce strategy that reflects increased automation. Intelligent machines can augment higher-end skills and automate routine tasks and decisions.”

One area that could obviously benefit from greater (and smarter) automation is IT Support. Help desk tends to be heavily dependent on hands-on techs (whether in house or off-shore). Many companies already implement some sort of self-service automation for Level One issues like forgotten passwords. However, it is the Level Two break/fix issues where significant improvements in time and resource management could allow CIOs to adapt the article’s stated best practice.

Sure, but computers can’t fix themselves.

In this landscape of automationthey can. In fact, a device can be self-healed in about 45 seconds; the time it takes a machine to reboot.  It is part of an automated process that restores a desired image to a corrupted or damaged OS or other break/fix issues  malware/ATP infestation, poor performance, and mis-configuration.  The significant difference with an existing platform is in this automated repair is that the profiles, files and settings remain intact. This isn’t a Day Zero rollback.

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The automation comes with the development of an updating desired image. An IT team can schedule an update anytime. Most companies do so on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in conjunction with a Windows security patch or application update. There are two time-saving automations that ensure the most current image is available. First is that the repair/restore/imaging component takes a snapshot of the approved image and only adds what has changed since the last update. So IT is not reimaging an entire workstation and the process is infinitely faster. Second is, any patches can be tested against a single image rather than every case of the distributed image. This is because of single-instance file storage to ensure that only one copy of any one file is stored across the organization. You have many licenses for Word, but only a single instance is captured for an image. What this means is that the organization always has a recent authorized image that won’t take days to rebuild. It is restored in moments.

So if a workstation can heal itself, is their still a role for IT help desk?  First off, help desk is now involved in the discovery of root causes rather than fixing symptoms. Fixing the symptom simply gets the user back to productivity almost instantaneously. When a user does call with a break/fix issue, the IT specialist can resolve the issue in seconds by initiating the reboot with the correct repair level. However, once the user is back up and running, the IT team can investigate causes so that they can be prevented in the future. Part of the solution is that it has granular reporting so the logs can be reviewed and ideal states compared to show how and where the performance issue occurred.

The end result is a new baseline of automations that reduce the number of support incidents, reduce the time to resolution, increase uptime activity, improve compute landscape integrity, but with relevance to the CIO article, create new bandwidth and greater visibility to allow for the changing roles and responsibilities of IT.

Of course, Utopic Software is happy to perform a demo of these automations in a live presentation to prove self-healing is not only possible, but generates the necessary ROI and bandwidth expansion a CIO needs to achieve their vision.

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