Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cost cutting no longer top IT priority - what is?

IT leaders are less focused on cutting costs and turning their attention to the broader goal of building the business. In a recent survey by McKinsey of 800 IT executives, those citing their top priority as reducing IT costs dropped from 44 percent to 31 percent since 2011. "Improving the effectiveness of business processes" now ranks as the top concern for over 61 percent, which is an increase of 14% since the last survey.

In line with the shift from cost cutting, 64 percent say their budgets for new investments will increase this year, although that increase isn't necessarily headcount, as those surveyed were evenly split on increases/decreases in operational spending.

But increased spending doesn't mean everything is looking up for these tech executives. Just 42 percent rated their own departments as being effective at managing their infrastructures, which was a slide of seven points. Some problems have held relatively even—only one in five felt they are effective at "driving technology enablement or innovation in business processes and operations."

A long-standing area of need in IT remains the retention and development of IT talent. The survey listed conditions that would most help organizations improve effectiveness of talent acquisition. Topping the list was improved culture, energy and morale of the IT organization—possibly resulting from years of cost-cutting mentality, and in the second spot, more competitive salary and benefits. More than a third of respondents listed "more cutting-edge, exciting work within IT."

At Uplogix, we've long said that removing some of the Level 1 tasks from the plate of an IT administrator through automation has impact beyond lowering support costs and reducing opportunities for human error and shortcutting. All of these tasks have an opportunity cost for both the admin and their employer that makes it harder to provide more cutting-edge and exciting work within IT.

Shed those basic network management tasks with network-independent intensive monitoring that feeds an intelligent platform that follows your runbook to take care of the day-to-day issues that eat up so much of IT's time. And for the times when it's more than level 1, Uplogix serves as longer arms and better tools to ensure that tasks can be done remotely and faster than traditional network management.

If you're tired of taking IT management surveys or are looking to find ways to impact network infrastructure management in your company, check out Uplogix today.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Detailed monitoring feeding intelligent, automated actions

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

Traditional network management has a lot in common with Chicken Little. SNMP polling lends itself to snap decisions or delayed information, and relying on the network path for sending traps can fail at the times when you need it the most.

See this post as a presentation on YouTube.

What most network professionals dream of are tools capable of intensive, reliable monitoring that can drive intelligent responses to events – both in the physical environment and in the network. Automation that takes some of the routine workload off their punch list that they can implement with confidence. This is Uplogix.

There are numerous applications for these capabilities. In this article, we'll talk about using data captured from the physical environment to manage network systems. Tools that will retrieve information and alert on temperature and humidity are commonplace. Some might even cut power to devices when pre-set thresholds are hit. But wouldn’t a scenario like the following be preferable?
A networking closet has an unreliable AC system. At times, it shuts down along with other systems unexpectedly or maybe on holiday weekends. When this happens, temperatures rise and devices start shutting themselves down haphazardly, or worse, burning out. Maybe a temp sensor sends an alert to the NOC and the clock continues ticking until someone notifies the facilities group or tries to shut down systems remotely.
Put Uplogix into the picture and the story could go more like this. The AC shuts down, and temperatures begin to increase. Uplogix is continuously monitoring not only the device state of the networking gear, but also physical conditions such as temperature and humidity.

After 10 minutes, the temperature has increased 15-degrees. Using temperature data trends, the Uplogix rules engine triggers an alert to the NOC using the preferred method. This could be an SNMP trap to a dashboard system, a text message via an integrated cellular modem, and/or an email to a system admin group or a facilities person in the building.
After 20 minutes, temperatures are exceeding the limits for the gear in the network closet. Using pre-defined run-book procedures, Uplogix can utilize its individual console connections to devices to shut down gear just like an administrator would.
Each action taken by Uplogix can be fed upstream to the NOC – and if the primary network connection is lost during the process? An out-of-band link can dial-out to provide the information to the NOC as well as establish two-way, secure access back to the site. 
But wait – the air conditioning is back on and the closet is cooling down. Uplogix can bring gear back online gracefully, reestablishing the network environment to working status.
The value of going beyond basic monitoring and blindly alarming versus an intelligent automated response is clear. In this scenario, it’s reduced downtime—plus the costs of troubleshooting actions taken by the NOC (including a potential site visit) are removed entirely.

With Uplogix, it’s like having an onsite virtual technician taking care of the tasks that are best done locally. For more information on high-resolution out-of-band monitoring and automated responses, visit Uplogix.com.

This blog post as a presentation:


Friday, March 7, 2014

The risk and pain of configuration change

To update or not to update. Too often it's the question asked in IT. Even when the answer is that yes, you should update. Security patches, OS upgrades and password updates take time and effort, and often provide an opportunity for introducing errors.

Enterprise Management Associates estimated upwards of 60% of network downtime is caused by human error during device configuration. That's huge, no wonder updates are put off. One month out from the Microsoft support cut-off for Windows XP, the 12+ year-old operating system still has a 29-percent share of the market.

On the network infrastructure side, Uplogix is an important tool for lowering the bars for effort and risk when it comes to network configuration changes.

Uplogix enables reliable enterprise-wide execution of configuration changes with a few clicks via the Uplogix Control Center's simple, web-based interface. Common change management tasks, such as distributing patches or password resets, can be scheduled and consistently executed across the entire distributed infrastructure.

Surgical Rollback™ combines fine grained configuration differencing with a unique “production confirmation” based approach to changes. Any change made is followed by a prompt for confirmation by the technician initiating the change. If no confirmation is received (e.g. if the change brought down the network and the technician’s access with it), the change is precisely rolled back. Secure out-of-band remote access also provides for corrective action even if the network is unavailable for other reasons or if this method is preferred.