IT Managers! What's Keeping You up at Night?
How some IT leaders are using DevOps practices like automation to solve issues that used to be the bane of their existences.
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Do You Know What Keeps IT Managers Awake at Night?
I'll give you a hint, it's no small list. If any of these sound familiar to you, take heart, you're not alone...
- Workers going through your IT budget like it’s bottomless
- Employees spending nearly their entire workday doing maintenance tasks
- One-off apps and services that turn into money pits
- Getting stuck with a huge investment in outdated technology
- Users leaking the organization’s sensitive, valuable data assets into unsupported, unsecured cloud services
- The need to support legacy systems that some division or department continues to rely on – and refuses to let go of
- And that old, insomnia-inducing standby: bad data
Is it any wonder IT managers are losing sleep like never before? The problems seem to go on forever, but fortunately, new solutions arrive in the nick of time (we hope). Here’s a look at how two IT pros solved their biggest IT and DevOps problems that robbed them of their REMs.
Automation and Alerts Minimize the Impact of Disruptions
Brent Gray, CTO of Dupray Inc., seller of steam cleaners and steam irons in six countries, shares his favorite solutions to common IT glitches:
You know what keeps me up at night? Putting in long, inefficient man-hours towards IT maintenance/upkeep problems. My team used to get majorly bogged down by this.
How have we gotten around that? Automation.
I used to be heavily invested in the day-to-day IT operations of the company, and would often sink a significant amount of time on the minor, micro details…. We decided to pivot to macro. To allow this pivot to occur, we absolutely needed to ensure that the day-to-day operations were sufficiently automated to allow us to not worry about them. Our first step was to hire the appropriate employees … who could develop the tools we needed to automate our processes. As a concrete example, we switched from the OpenERP to the much more robust Netsuite ERP.
Our most crucial processes are now integrated into our Netsuite ERP. We have automatic shipping, automatic relaying of invoices, specific tax calculations, inventory assessments, inventory restocking and transfers, automated priority customer service, automated bid adjustments for Adwords, PLAs, Bing, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram advertising (minimum oversight).
We have slight automation that pulls data from Google Analytics and gives us advanced analysis. We have alerts that tell us where we need to focus attention, where our brand is being mentioned, and by whom. We have automated fraud detection that has saved us thousands of dollars.
Obviously, these processes all required trial and error. Every situation will have an odd case or two that our software can’t to handle. These weird exceptions must be discovered before they can be integrated safely without hanging our code.
Moreover, these processes are generally extremely complex. We are a highly multinational corporation and consequently, we deal with significantly different laws, taxes, rules, models, and cultural mores. Creating, finding, or using tools are all exceedingly complex. Yet, when we see a repetition of orders or demands, we believe that with enough investment in automation, a process could be created which takes away the need for human oversight.
Best tool to help us with IT maintenance tasks:
Alerts. Our business automation notifies the right employee when something is not working properly, or something requires attention. For example, one of our programs notifies the phones of our employees when multiple emails are being sent by the same sender. This usually indicates a pressing issue or an unsatisfied customer who needs to be contacted immediately.
The Biggest Challenge Remains: Bridging Old Technologies With New Ones
It isn’t often a company can start afresh with their IT operations. In nearly every case, there are systems in use that are vital yet prove difficult or impossible to migrate or upgrade. Frank S. Nestore of technical consulting company Mathtech identifies three areas that must be addressed when adopting cloud technologies:
I am an IT consultant who works with companies to help them transform how they operate and use technology. A lot of it is modernizing legacy computer systems. Along with that comes a lot of recurring problems related to standalone “pet” systems, cultural change management (getting folks to use new systems rather than their old, manual but comfortable ones), and incorrect or incomplete data.
You can’t predict every condition your data and network are likely to encounter. But, with a little planning – and a rock-solid cloud management platform – you can be confident that your company will keep rolling through the many little glitches, and, most importantly, you won't find yourself losing any more sleep over hopeless IT and DevOps problems.
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