Better Managed IT Through Tools and Automation

by Leathel Grody, Network Engineer

IT Automation At Safety Net, we strive to provide our clients with great IT service – fast, by offering rapid response times, quick resolutions, and a stable, secure infrastructure environment. Our toolsets and automated processes play an important role in supporting our managed IT service (Your Net) clients. For example, we have a scripting process that automatically cleans a server’s hard drive. This can help prevent a catastrophe like a server crash in the middle of the night — a headache the client and we want to avoid. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain to see what other “magic” we employ for clients.

Efficient Tools
  • Fast remote support – Using remote desktop management, our technicians can connect to workstations and servers within seconds to provide support.
  • Shadow terminal sessions – We can instantly connect to terminal sessions and provide individual users with support whether they are using a workstation or thin client for their terminal session access.
  • Automated ticketing and issue resolution – Imagine an issue being resolved before a technician even contacts you. It is possible. For example, a user’s workstation is functioning slowly so he/she creates a support ticket. Based on the type of problem, a list of actions is automatically initiated to check on RAM, CPU processes, last reboot time, etc. Once completed, the process notifies the user of the fix and updates the ticket with potential causes so our system and support team have history of the issue.
  • Auditing – We catalog details about workstations and servers. If a client needs to find specific workstations out of hundreds that run a specialized application, we track this information in our database and can run a report to identify them. Our database tracks information such as which computers are out of warranty, which are low on memory, and more. All of those details can be reported.
  • Application updates – Software is regularly updated to install new features and/or to address security concerns. Examples include Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java. We remotely update these applications across multiple workstations to keep them secure and up-to-date.
  • Network statistics – If our client’s network devices allow it, we keep an archive of network data for a quicker diagnosis of issues. If a customer’s network experiences a slowdown, we can identify which port on the switch is using the most bandwidth and determine if it is a user or server that is causing network performance issues.
Automated Monitoring
  • Server disk space – When a server’s disk space fills up, there are specific steps that a technician would perform to get rid of unneeded files. We have automated these tasks so that if a server reaches a critical threshold, the disk is cleaned without any human intervention.
  • Service monitoring – Many software services running on a server are critical for a company to function. We have automated processes in place to monitor these services and restart them if they are found not functioning. If the automated process does not work,  then a technician is immediately notified to address the issue.
  • Application monitoring – There are also business line applications that companies must run as an application on a server’s console instead of as a service. If the application crashes, it can have a great impact on an organization. We monitor the application’s special processes to ensure a technician is notified if our automation finds one of them to be nonoperational.
Automated Security

Security is a top priority for most companies. Horror stories of one computer without an antivirus solution becoming infected and then spreading to the entire company are all too common. Or those of a company discovering after a server goes down that their backups have not been working, so their data is lost. Our clients do not have these worries. We provide many checks against workstations, servers, and networking devices in order to provide a secure environment.

  • Antivirus software – We check whether workstations and servers have antivirus installed and alert our technicians if they do not.
  • Backup monitoring – We use a centralized backup reporting system to monitor hundreds of servers across many organizations and can tell instantly of any backup job failures at client sites.
  • Domain administrator group monitoring – Companies often worry that a hacker or unscrupulous staff member could add themselves to one of the domain administrator groups and gain privileged access to their network. We are automatically alerted when one of these accounts is added.
  • Centralized Windows patch management – There are increasingly more security vulnerabilities than those that can be addressed by antivirus software alone. Up-to-date Microsoft Windows patches on workstations and servers are also needed to protect against potential data loss from a major virus. We patch clients’ servers monthly and workstations weekly with Windows updates. If we have reason to concerned about a critical security threat; a security patch can be pushed out instantly.
  • Shadow copy monitoring – Shadow copies are the first line of defense for file recovery, providing a quick and efficient way to recover lost or corrupt files. We monitor our clients’ systems to ensure that this feature is working.

As these tools and automated processes continue to evolve, Safety Net will continue to evaluate and implement them for Your Net clients, so their businesses can operate as efficiently as possible.