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Top 7 Challenges in Server Management

Top 7 Challenges in Server Management

IT managers and administrators have a real need to automate frequently recurring management tasks. And even though many IT professionals already have traditional tools available for this, such as the much used Microsoft SCCM, those tools do not meet all demands in the approach to the top 7 challenges in server management. They seek powerful, supplementary tools that are easy to configure and can be implemented flexibly. And preferably at a reasonable price, since organizations keep a close watch on IT costs.

These are a few of the results from our study of 150 IT managers and administrators, mainly from Europe and the USA. According to one of the conclusions from the study, many operations in the management and change process are still taking (too) much time. The study shows a clear tendency to efficiently and effectively automate frequently recurring tasks, but it also shows that many IT professionals are in search of the ideal tool. They are also looking for tools that not only can play a role in the traditional server environments, but also in workspace management. The ideal tool must also be appropriate for the increasingly popular principles of DevOps.

The study: from SME to enterprise

The survey included responses from a broad population of IT personnel employed by SMEs and large enterprises, as well as everything in between. 44 percent of them are involved in organizations with 50 to 2,500 users, 47 percent manage IT environments with more than 5,000 users.

The environments/platforms they manage vary from Microsoft SQL Server (mentioned by 73 percent of the respondents), Microsoft Sharepoint (43 percent), Microsoft Exchange (57 percent), Microsoft IIS (67 percent), Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop (50 percent) to VMware View (34 percent). It is notable that many IT managers and administrators already use automation tools, but still find there is something to be desired. The most frequently used tool is Microsoft SCCM, mentioned by 64 percent of the respondents. Less frequently used are Microsoft Orchestrator (21 percent), VMware vCAC (19 percent), Puppet Labs (10 percent) and RES Automation Manager (5 percent).

What requirements do organizations have?

What are these IT employees judged on in their organization? The most important KPI by far is 24/7 availability of the IT facilities, mentioned by more than 72 percent of the IT personnel. They say that quality and/or end user satisfaction is nearly just as important, which of course is related to reliable availability: 64 percent. Many respondents also mention cost savings (56 percent), which makes it clear that organizations are keeping a close eye on financial results, even after the years of deepest crises. The fact that the speed of implementation (55 percent) is near the top of the KPI list shows that business in organizations now has stricter requirements on flexibility of the IT organization; 31 percent bring up the ‘agility’ to support the business with initiatives. Finally, IT managers and administrators also find security important (47 percent), just like high availability of the systems during maintenance (42 percent).

Where is time wasted; what can be automated?

Personnel in charge of IT who participated in the study are resolute regarding the frequently recurring tasks they would like to automate in their environment. Even though it was proven that many of them are already using tools such as SCCM, they still have a whole shopping list of wishes. Top priorities are OS deployment and patch deployment: both of these tasks are mentioned by 70 percent of IT personnel, followed very closely by the creation of operating system image (nearly 68 percent) and software deployment (64 percent). They also frequently name automatic generation of Active Directory groups, as well as on-demand creation and maintenance of test and user acceptance environments.

Top 7 challenges in server management

The study further shows that those in charge of IT in their organizations can very accurately point out the processes that will, in their opinion, take a great deal, or even too much time. When the question of what parts of the change process require the most time is posed, seven activities all get about the same score:

  1. Windows patch management
  2. Application packaging
  3. Server deployment
  4. System configuration changes
  5. Change testing
  6. Application deployment
  7. Change administration

The ideal automation solution

Keeping all these wishes and requirements in mind, what does the ideal automation need to comply with? A combination of convenience and competitive price are the determining factors here. Easy to configure, say 68 percent, easy to implement say 65 percent.

Price is an issue here as well, as most IT personnel mention this aspect (72 percent). Compatibility with other tools (57 percent) and good support (52 percent) are also often brought up. At some remove these are followed by criteria such as ‘based on industry standards’ (still 47 percent), ‘lightweight architecture’ and ‘availability of deployment packages’, the so-called ‘blueprints’.

Conclusions

The study seems to indicate that the current regular tools have their limitations. IT managers and administrators continue to feel a need for a tool that is simple and efficient as well as effective, saves time and does not cost too much. This also applies to the domain of server operation, but even more to workspace management, where changes are more frequent and where a fast pace is essential for keeping up with the wishes of the business in organizations. This pace will only increase further, due in part to development of the cloud. Users in organizations are gradually getting more accustomed to being able to approach the application and data anytime, anyplace, anywhere, and to the IT functioning flawlessly. And changes being made well and expediently, preferably without them noticing anything.

Login AM ready for DevOps

The tendency towards simplicity and tools that support effective management and change practice results in organizations continuing to focus on tools heralding the next step in automation. The growing popularity of the of DevOps almost certainly also plays a role here. DevOps is a new principle stemming from the frustration that many IT projects in the software area are handed over too late, come up short in performance and do not earn back the investments made in them. DevOps is a multidisciplinary phenomenon in which teams of all disciplines (formerly separate) are combined: developers, testers and also end users.

Even though at first glance DevOps primarily plays a role in software development, these principles are now also penetrating into management of IT environments and of changes. “A good automation tool such as Login AM supports the DevOps,” says Dennis Damen, Login AM product manager. “The power of this tool is that it highly simplifies testing changes, for example. Direct feedback loops in which users communicate directly with developers and administrators are also possible. The main reason for this is that managers can quickly effect minor changes without causing great impact. This enables direct feedback to the ‘developers’ of the IT infrastructure. Login AM supports faster settling of changes, with fewer errors and without being hindered in the process by old barriers between platforms and server types. Totally in keeping with the DevOps idea. In contrast to some ‘old school’ tools, Login AM is particularly good at fast and correct implementation of time-consuming tasks such as creating operating systems, deploying software, OS deployment and patch management.”

Do you want to know more about automation solutions for your server management? Request a demo of Login AM.

Tags: White Papers, Login AM, Server Management

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