The IT support revolution Chapter 2 – market dynamics, security, automation
To continue the topic on market dynamics, it is important to find out what has changed in the past decades. Before and during the first digital revolution, companies have planned their business strategies over a course of several years, most commonly three to five-year cycle for products, such as older versions of Microsoft Windows, early computer models of Apple and other software product brands. The most probable reasons for this market behavior are the low level of digitalization, the longer Go-To-Market time and the pace of technology innovation. By the beginning of the new millennium, companies like Intel, Apple, even Disney, had managed to bring the production lifecycle time down to around one and a half years. Today, shifts in market trends and customer needs not only press enterprises to optimize Go-To-Market time to months, or even weeks, but also define the business direction and strategy.
Why is the customer so important nowadays?
For every company, every business, the client should be at the center of all products and services positioning and definition. (Perhaps, without shifting away from this rule some deviations from this rule, on several occasions, a few technological breakthroughs wouldn’t be even possible have happened, but in reality the majority, the client’s opinion needs and benefits or and even predicting it those is all that matters what drives businesses.) Perhaps some technological breakthroughs would not have been possible without a few deviations from this rule, but what really drives businesses, is mostly the needs and benefits of the customer, and even predicting these. Ideas, hunches, long-term prototypes and even luck are now replaced by direct customer feedback. Here is where IT outsourcing to Expert IT support can assist businesses in creating the best, or at least, the most suitable product for their target markets.
Often, companies tend to neglect the need to know what the client wants. Without this vital information, they simply move away from their customers and cannot be a true participant in the dynamic market. By collecting reports about service requests, customer and end-user feature needs and most importantly – problem tracking, Expert IT support services can provide enterprises with aggregated data which they can use during the planning of a new product or the development of a current one. And the best part is? External IT support services are capable of resolving many of the identified issues and provide a workaround, if not a permanent solution, even before the next service release is actually available to customers.
How does Expert IT support enable such type of managed services? The answer is fairly simple, although it has taken years of experience and even more of standardization to get to this era of rapid service development with the confidence that the business can rely on the IT backbone. Standards and frameworks, like ITIL, TOGAF and ISO, may prove too abstract for some or in many cases too specific for their business needs, but in general, they provide the solid foundation for building reliable and functional processes. Yes, IT expert support services are entirely based on these processes. By adhering to already established and battle-tested workflows, documentation, guides and management processes, external maintenance teams are well equipped to understand the requirements of enterprises, scale the teams on demand and have the same successful outcome from requests, issues and changes. People and companies tend to dislike processes, and see them as work-on-rails, self-defined limits, so they disregard them at some point in order to be more flexible, agile and fast on the market. They start to rely on their own capabilities, pushing products, services, deadlines and themselves to the limit, just to be sure no mistake is made, much like the way the autopilot is turned off during a flight. Unfortunately, this way of making changes and developing products relies mostly on chance and often creates a spiral of errors, leading to delays and lack of presence in today’s market dynamics. Expert IT support with the help of processes can manage the risks, plan ahead and mitigate most causes of delays just by following best practices. They include, but are not limited to:
- Incident management
- Service Request Management
- Change Management
- Problem Management
- Knowledgebase Management
- Security Management
And the list goes on. In order to keep up with the market dynamics, Expert IT support has its own mechanism to evolve together with the enterprises it maintains. The process is called Continual Improvement. Everything looks good, but following processes still takes time, which businesses don’t need tospend.
What can be done to accelerate the process? Companies need to change even faster. Automation is a vital part of operating a highly available IT environment.
The process puzzle needs more pieces to produce a complete and working IT support solution for people and businesses. Established maintenance teams have a database of previously encountered issues and requests and their respective workarounds or solutions. In general, external IT support services comprise of a team of Support agents, and a platform, capable of hosting all Management processes. (Once repetitive tasks and standard modifications that are well-known are identified, the IT support team is then capable of using automation to make the necessary changes.) Once repetitive tasks and well known standard modifications are identified, the IT support team is able to make the necessary changes through automation.
IT support automation offers the following benefits for enterprises:
- Faster action implementation time
- Human error mitigation
- Accountability, based on approvals
- Event tracking and reporting
- IT Infrastructure monitoring integration
Monitoring integration is one of the most common features when it comes to Expert IT support. By monitoring data from business-critical services, IT teams are able to identify meaningful events and take actions, based on patterns and problems. Internal or external corporate monitoring tools nowadays are able to provide options for automated issue and event resolution. (Such rules can be configured by Expert IT support service teams to enable them to spend more time analyzing and solving issues.) Such rules can be configured by Expert IT support service teams, which will free more time for analyzing and solving other issues. More complex issues and topics in general, concerning security and access management, require a deeper understanding of what the business security needs are.
Security is transforming the IT operations. Security is an essential part of the ITIL processes and IT support services.
Nowadays, enterprises have the dilemma whether to stick to on-premises IT environments or to start their journey in the public cloud. More often than not, companies are choosing the first option, mostly because of security concerns and migration efforts. Private solutions, as well as public clouds, provide excellent platforms to build IT infrastructure, which can be maintained with the help of Expert IT support teams. Public clouds are following different approaches in order to provide customers with the security validations and best practices, implemented along the provided services. Most of the cloud services are already managed by the provider, but the trick here is to make them work together in an optimal manner. Security agents, monitoring, log analysis solutions and cost management services are just a fraction of the product portfolio IT support services can utilize to shed light on potential issues inside the environments of customers and companies.
Public clouds have gone one step further by introducing Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to security actions and decision-making. And how exactly should an enterprise provide access to an external IT support service within a public cloud deployment? The answer can be fairly simple – the same way the access is provided to an on-premises environment – through VPN, Terminal Servers and SSH hosts. Public clouds have one additional ace up their sleeve and it is called role-based access, which controls fine-grained user permissions to the individual tenant environments. Enterprises can be confident that their data, IT infrastructure and configurations will be supported by experts, without any extra backdoors or permissions.
To put the whole picture together, Expert IT support is transforming the way enterprises and people tackle daily IT needs. How does this happen? By bringing knowledge and experience together to provide a complete service portfolio, in the context of standardized processes. Companies can now focus on developing their core business and leave the IT operations and maintenance procedures in the hands of the experts!
About the author
Solution Architect at BULPROS
Ivaylo is an IT professional with 8 years of experience in support services, cloud infrastructure and DevOps background. He is part of the Cloud and Infrastructure services team at BULPROS and in his role as Solution Architect, he has focus on cloud technologies, designing IT projects, automation and ITSM processes implementation.