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Football is one of the most hyped sporting events in the country. With the 50th big game coming in the next week, all of the fanfare will be out in full swing. All of the articles, the speculation, the betting, the back stories and dissection of each team and player. I am a huge fan and I take it all in but what I love the most is thinking about how the teams and players prepare for the biggest game of the year. How to manage being the focus of all the attention and distractions and get ready to play in a game they have been preparing for their entire lives.
This is not remarkably different from what IT has to deal with every day, if you have a little imagination. One must constantly deal with all of the distractions, making sure that skill players (AKA execs) are taken care of, ensuring that game plans are ready, not just for this big game or on Sundays but every day. “Bad actors” take the form of “spies” for the football game, and hackers for IT professionals. Everything goes smoothly – players make the catches they are expected to – there are no service outages, and no one notices. Miss a game winning field goal, or find that no one is getting e-mail for an hour in the middle of the day, and the sky falls. Depending on how willing one is to push the analogy, the parallels can go on indefinitely.
Without stretching TOO far, though, it’s possible to examine an effective endpoint management strategy through the lens of preparation for the greatest spectacle in American sports.
Get Ready for the Big Game!
1. Internal Game Planning - Coaches will tell you that one of the first things that teams do to get ready for the big game is prepare a critical self-evaluation. Before they even start looking at the opposing team’s game films or play planning, they do an extensive internal evaluation. You can’t focus on winning until you know what is working and what is not. Kind of like a SWOT analysis so they can see what worked well in the last few playoff games, where to improve and what needs to be corrected.
Similar to endpoint strategy and planning, one needs to have that same level of introspection and analysis. It’s amazing how many IT organizations still say, they don’t know how many devices or applications are connected to the network. That could be a good place to start. Start with focusing on that discovery and understanding your infrastructure. Where are the gaps and holes in your line that need to be adjusted to be ready for game day – which is every day?
2. Be Prepared for Every Situation – We all know that no matter how much you plan, something unexpected will go wrong. We have seen this so many times in football games that huge fumble, bungled snap or blown coverage, resulting in a touchdown at a critical time that totally changes the momentum of the game. Organizations face similar issues in IT. Top coaches focus on situational football where players know what to do, when and where; the two-minute drill, goal line play, short-yardage, backed up near their own goal line, etc. The last thing anyone wants to hear from a player during a game is, `I wasn't expecting that to happen,' or `I was not prepared for that.'
As IT systems become bigger, more complex and more difficult to manage, organizations need to have that same visibility and situational planning. Everyone knows that something will go wrong, but a good IT organization can be proactive and identify the issue quickly and take quick action to solve it. One can never be too prepared for a software audit, and knowing who is using what, and preparing for that, is a terrific place to start.
3. Manage the Process – One of the most successful and prolific college football coaches today, Nick Saban talks a lot about “the process” and getting the details right. Saban’s “Process” is all about focusing on the journey, and not the destination. About doing the right thing the right way all the time. He instructs his players to treat each play as if it was a game, and focus on what is needed to be done during that play to be successful.
If one looks at this process from an endpoint systems management perspective, one might be thinking about automating repetitive processes, such as ensuring there is a fully automated software patch management system, a configuration management tool as well as regularly scheduled compliance reporting. Why not have a BYOD playbook in place that everyone is following?
4. Defense wins Championships – Anyone that follows football has heard this axiom. Although I’m not sure that it is statically true as one needs a balanced approach, no one would argue that defense isn’t a critical aspect to the game. Just ask Tom Brady about the Denver defense in the most recent AFC championship game. Systems management is like defense in football. One can't win without building strong front lines. If one doesn't build a good systems management discipline and strategy then it becomes impossible to win the IT Bowl. Just like football, security is a tough game and not for the faint of heart. There are threats lurking around every corner. One may be blindsided at any moment. It’s important to have defense at all levels of infrastructure to protect against all different types of threats while concentrating on the most important assets –endpoints, data and the network.
It has been estimated that 80% of malicious security attacks could have been prevented with improved patch management. One must ensure that the front line – endpoints, have all the protection they can get.
5. It’s all about the Team – Just as in IT, one’s resources and personnel are key to achieving IT initiatives and goals. Players don’t just show up on game day and start playing. They have had hours or preparation and training so that when game day arrives, it has become second nature for them to understand how to react, adjust and respond to every situation. This goes for IT Administrators as well. It is not enough to prepare with the skills needed but to also have the appropriate policies and procedures in place. And just as each player needs to do their job, they need to also remember that there is a whole team behind them.
Patching endpoints covers one piece of the puzzle. Configuration management solves for another. Compliance reporting provides protection in a different, important way. All of these parts of the systems management whole help put prepared organizations in a position to be successful.
So as the world gets ready to watch the big game this coming Sunday, remember that just like in IT, each play, each yard, each touchdown moves us closer to that win and a foundation for success!
How is your organization preparing for the IT Bowl?
About Sean Musil
Sean Musil is a Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He believes the internet should be free and secure.
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The word “audit” strikes fear into the heart of every IT and software asset manager.
After all, audits can be very disruptive — and very expensive. But the reality is that vendor-imposed, revenue-motivated audits are increasing for organizations of all sizes and industries. In a recent study, Gartner, Inc., found that organizations had a 68 percent chance of being audited by at least one software vendor.
Since software audits are inevitable, you need to be proactive. Don’t wait for vendors to contact you; instead, take charge of your organization’s software license management now and avoid both the disruptions and the costs. It’s true you might uncover a few ugly truths, but those are better dealt with outside of the scrutiny of a vendor audit. Moreover, our experience shows that you’ll also discover opportunities to drive down costs, improve application currency and availability, and enhance security.
Here are five steps that will help you manage your software assets and ensure you are in compliance:
In short, being proactive with IT asset management (ITAM) can pay off handsomely: it will help you sail through the vendor audits that are almost certainly coming your way this year while also reducing costs and improving productivity and security. To learn more, check out the latest chapter in our e-book, “Technology Tunnel Vision, Part 3: Expanding control of your application environment.”
About David Manks
David Manks is a Solutions Marketing Director for Dell Software focusing on endpoint management and security products.
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Traditionally, systems management has been accomplished by installing an agent on each managed system. What’s wrong with that?
Well, for starters, not all systems and devices can support an agent. Electronic kiosks, ATMs and point-of-service devices, for instance, are locked to prevent the installation of any additional software, including an agent from a systems management solution. And many smart, connected non-computer devices, such as printers or scanners, do not allow for installation of an agent.
Moreover, even when agents can be installed, there can be a question of whether they should be installed. There is a perception, justified or not, in some IT organizations that installing a systems management agent can hurt performance, which makes those teams reluctant to install agents, especially on mission-critical production servers.
Asset Discovery and Management Without Agents
Agentless management is now a viable alternative to traditional agent-based systems management. Agentless management connects over SSH, Telnet, SNMP and other protocols to collect device information and report inventory. It’s useful if you’re running unusual OS versions/distributions, or if your organization simply prefers to manage its systems without installing agents.
It’s important to remember, though, there are two key aspects to systems management: asset discovery and asset lifecycle management. Agentless asset discovery is harder to do, and harder to find in a solution.
A paper from Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. (EMA), “Best Practices in Lifecycle Management,” compares the agentless asset management capabilities of the four leading systems management solutions. It reveals that two of the four systems management products can perform many asset lifecycle management tasks, such as hardware and software inventory, reporting and service desk, without an agent in Windows and Mac environments. For Linux platforms, Dell KACE is the only platform that provides license management capabilities.
But discovering the assets without an agent is another story. Only Dell KACE provides hardware and software inventory without an agent, ensuring you have complete visibility into everything on your network.
The EMA paper is a valuable guide for any IT team planning to implement a new systems management product or upgrade an existing one. Download your free copy, and be sure to read its detailed discussion of agent-based versus agentless discovery and inventory management.
If you’ve been reading my last few blogs, you’ve seen the value of having centralized management for all your connected devices. With the number and variety of endpoints accessing your network skyrocketing, and attackers becoming ever more creative and sophisticated, you need end-to-end insight and control. A toolbox full of point solutions won’t cut it; you need a single pane of glass that shows you everything that’s accessing your systems and enables you to keep all those endpoints up to date and secure.
Lovely as my prose is, though, you may have had enough of it. Maybe you’re ready to hear what an integrated endpoint, mobility and security management solution has done for a real-world organization like yours. If so, you’re in luck. Harry Folloder, CIO of Advantage Waypoint, has graciously agreed to tell how such a solution helped him from the very start of the company. Here’s what he had to say:
How Advantage Waypoint Merged Nine Company Networks in 30 days
“Our parent company, Advantage Sales and Marketing, merged nine companies overnight to form the first national sales and marketing company for the away-from-home food business,” explains Folloder. “I had to bring together nine disparate companies very quickly and build a data center from the ground up.
“The first problem was that we had no visibility. We had no idea where employees were, which endpoint devices they used or what was running on the devices. Our other big problem was that each company had its own set of processes, but we couldn’t idle hundreds of employees while we pulled our networks together. Solving those problems in the middle of a nine-way merger meant that we needed day-zero management of all endpoints across all companies.
“By partnering with Dell and taking advantage of their integrated solutions, we were able to stand up our new data center in just 30 days. First, Dell KACE appliances gave me a view of all the new systems I had to inventory through the merger when the only connection I had to them was over the internet. And as we continue to acquire and integrate companies, they give me a single point of insight and control for asset inventory and management, including deploying applications and patches, tracking changes to critical data, and even identifying the users with the most trouble tickets so we could provide them with additional training.
“Second, Dell Data Protection | Encryption (DDP|E) encrypts and protects both client data and our own intellectual property as it moves around the network — and it’s nearly transparent to users. The KACE appliances verify that DDP|E is installed and active on target systems. This tight integration is invaluable. If a laptop is stolen, for example, we’d know that the data on the machine was protected, so we wouldn’t have to pay millions of dollars providing identity theft protection to clients or employees, as other companies have been forced to do.
“Completing the solution is Dell AppAssure. AppAssure offers both business continuity and disaster recovery in a simple, non-invasive way. It lets us restore everything from a single document to an entire machine. My ops team likes AppAssure because it’s up 100 percent of the time and they know they can easily recover from anything to keep the business going.
“Whenever a new technology need arises, I always turn to Dell first and ask, ‘What solutions do you have for this?’ They take the time to understand what we do, how we generate revenue, who our clients are and how we make them happy to ensure that their product is a good fit. The Dell solutions we’ve deployed have helped us create a stable, reliable, innovative foundation for making our clients raving fans.”
See What Integrated Endpoint, Mobility and Security Management Can Do for You
I bet your organization shares at least some of the challenges that Advantage Waypoint faced. If an integrated endpoint, mobility and security management can help a company being born out of a nine-way merger, think what it could do for you. It won’t make you breakfast, but it just might save your bacon.
To learn more about how you can empower your IT team to efficiently manage and secure a wide range of corporate and user-owned devices, be sure to read our new e-book, “Technology Tunnel Vision, Part 2: Centralized management for all connected devices.”
About Harry Folloder | CIO at Advantage Waypoint
Folloder led the technical team that successfully integrated nine regional foodservices brokers to create Advantage Waypoint. He is also president of Folloder Foodservice, Inc., and former partner and founder of Net Guyz, LLC.
Cost is always a concern when you’re buying new software. But it’s critical to consider not only software licensing costs but all financial components.
In this series of blog posts, I’ve been talking about systems lifecycle management solutions in particular. Whether you’re looking to invest in your first solution or thinking about replacing your existing solution, be sure to ask about licensing costs. But also be sure to ask questions like these:
A Complete Financial Comparison of Systems Lifecycle Management Solutions
For help identifying and quantifying all the cost factors involved in executing a successful systems lifecycle management implementation, look no further than “Best Practices in Lifecycle Management,” a paper from Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. (EMA). This report provides not only a detailed functional comparison of the four most popular systems lifecycle management solutions on the market, but a complete financial comparison as well. It explains how to evaluate all the cost components:
For each of these costs, the paper builds out a total implementation cost based on size of organization, number of servers, length of maintenance contract, number of locations and other variables. It’s easy to follow and it’s designed to help you pencil out your own costs.
Get your free copy of “Best Practices in Lifecycle Management” and review EMA’s detailed cost comparison of the four products, including Dell KACE appliances.
Ever wonder how many minutes in a day you could reclaim if you didn’t have to run herd over OS deployments, patches, upgrades, reimaging and the myriad other systems management and deployment tasks that take up your time? Well, I’m going to go out on a limb and say there are probably other things you’d rather do with that lost time. There are never enough hours in a day; at least not for the things we actually want to do.
Work-life Balance Makes Headlines
Last August’s New York Times investigative report exposing brutal work schedules at Amazon.com continues to reverberate across the tech industry. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz took to his blog to weigh in: "Many people believe that weekends and the 40-hour workweek are some sort of great compromise between capitalism and hedonism, but that’s not historically accurate,” he wrote. “The research is clear: beyond 40-50 hours per week, the marginal returns from additional work decrease rapidly and quickly become negative."
But according to Glassdoor.com, the trend seems to be heading in the wrong direction. According to the site’s 5-point rating system, employees rated work-life balance a 3.2 in 2015, down from 3.4 in 2012 and 3.5 in 2009.
Tools: Making Life Easier
Leaving at 6 p.m. shouldn’t be a fantasy. In IT, the right tools can make the difference between exhaustion and exhilaration. So why are we chaining ourselves to time-consuming, repetitive tasks when there are tools available to set us free?
Having a tool capable of “lights off” deployments — re-imaging machines, installing and updating crucial apps — during non-business hours seems an obvious solution. And while we’re at it, why not adopt one that can automate every step of the systems management lifecycle. Systems management and deployment tools like these do exist, but perhaps we first need to give up the ingrained belief that running ourselves ragged is the only way to prove the value we offer our organizations.
Remembering Why We Work
Take a minute to read our latest Real IT story about an overworked IT administrator and avid gamer who’s been sacrificing personal time to keep crucial systems up and running for a non-profit health clinic. Though he gains satisfaction knowing his work helps doctors provide better care, the constant “firefighting” pushes him to a breaking point when 162 new computers destined for the clinic’s remote locations show up misconfigured, potentially requiring days of overtime to become useable — right before a long-planned birthday trip to E3 with his son. Does he make it?
About Stephen Hatch
Stephen is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Dell KACE. He has over eight years of experience with KACE and over 20 years of marketing communications experience.
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Are you ready to manage the massive increase in devices? There are over 2 billion mobile devices shipping every year and over 28 billion IoT devices projected to be active by 2020.
It Doesn't Stop There
More devices means more apps which means an explosion of data, which means more security threats than ever before. So how do you discover, update, manage and secure all of these devices? Today’s network is more vulnerable than ever due to the rise of these personal devices, BYOD, IoT and a growing mobile workforce. Managing and securing this massive increase in devices is now more important than ever before.
Check out this new infographic and see just some of the challenges and imperatives you have to deal with to address this ever growing trend.
To learn more about how to efficiently manage and secure a wide range of corporate and user-owned devices, be sure to read our new e-book, Technology Tunnel Vision: Why endpoint management without network security is putting your organization at risk.
Variety, they say, is the spice of life. But too much spice can lead to heartburn.
That’s the challenge facing most IT administrators today: they must manage not just a few familiar platforms but hundreds or thousands of computers and servers running multiple versions of Windows, Mac OS X, UNIX, Linux, and, more recently, Chrome OS. In such complex heterogeneous environments, everyday tasks — like keeping track of all hardware and software, making sure you are in compliance with applicable regulations and licensing agreements, maintaining security, and providing exceptional support — become increasingly difficult.
Effective Systems Management Across Multiple Operating Systems
In my last post, I introduced “Best Practices in Lifecycle Management,” a research paper from Enterprise Management Associates, Inc. (EMA), which evaluates the four most popular systems lifecycle management solutions on the market:
In addition to the detailed functional comparison I mentioned in my last post, the paper provides an extremely valuable chart (shown above) that identifies which specific Windows, Mac, Linux and Unix platforms each solution supports. Only Dell KACE appliances cover every version and flavor listed. If you spend your workday managing a multi-platform environment, then you’ll find EMA’s checklist a valuable resource in preparing for your next investment in a systems lifecycle management product.
Get all the details by downloading your free copy of the EMA report.
Most organizations today have a wide range of devices accessing their networks: mobile (Android, IOS) traditional (Windows desktops and laptops) and new (projectors, printers, scanners, kiosks and more). And it’s only going to get more complex. A recent survey of 723 IT professionals performed by Dimensional Research and sponsored by Dell Software found that the vast majority of IT professionals (87 percent) expect to see their endpoint environments expand in the next three years, either in the total number of devices (79 percent), the types of devices (76 percent) or both (68 percent).
To manage and secure those devices, most organizations already use multiple systems management tools. Are you ready to juggle even more tools every year to manage your increasing complex endpoint mix?
A New Approach
If you’re like the vast majority of IT professionals I talk to, your answer is no. In fact, most organizations are unhappy with their outdated and inefficient approaches to endpoint management for these five reasons:
Dell’s Approach to Anypoint Systems Management
It’s clear, then, that adding more tools is not the answer to the new reality of device creep. In fact, what the vast majority (89 percent) of organizations with multiple tools want is to pare down to a single pane of glass that provides visibility into the entire corporate network.
Dell’s centralized anypoint management approach delivers that single pane of glass. Benefits include the following:
As Gartner releases its annual Magic Quadrant (MQ) results across multiple disciplines, the analyst firm naturally stirs discussion about evaluations and year-over-year advances or retreats in vendor placement, from niche players and visionaries, to challengers and leaders. This is true in the MQ in which my organization’s product, Dell KACE appliances, plays – the 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools (CMT). We believe this objective review hopefully provides insightful information for our prospective customers, and helps to position us in their minds as they select client management tools best suited to their organizations. How much then, does the vendor evaluation really matter, and do we feel the 2015 classification accurately reflect our status, at least until next year’s report?
Let’s use Dell KACE as an example of putting the MQ positioning in perspective — reading between the lines and highlighting what we consider some really important differentiators. This year Dell KACE was positioned as the sole player in the Challengers quadrant— not quite a leader, but perched on the Y axis. Concerning? Not to us. In fact, we feel the classification perfectly suits our approach to the systems management — dare we say “challenges” — of today’s organization. Let’s consider verbatim two of the recommendations Gartner proposes in its recent Critical Capabilities report that accompanies the CMT MQ.
First: “Select CMTs that meet your functional and technical requirements and are aligned with the skill set, experience and size of your IT staff for administration and use .” I believe many legacy software systems management suites offer functionality above and beyond what most organizations require. In addition, some are so complex that they require extensive training and dedicated IT staff to obtain desired results. Providing comprehensive capabilities that are easy to use for IT staff of all levels has been our hallmark, and will continue to be the driving force of our solution. As systems management tasks become more complex, encompassing support and security for even more operating systems and device types, your systems management solution shouldn’t have to follow suit.
Second: “Avoid CMTs that require substantial incremental resources or expertise beyond what is available or will be in place during the next six to 12 months .” As a challenger, we believe our KACE appliance-based approach to systems management is grounded in an all-in-one, plug-and-play approach that does not require additional hardware or software investment, includes comprehensive functionality that deploys in days without costly professional services, and offers nearly immediate business return for organizations of all sizes.
Challenger? Not a problem.
In a realm of relatively mature technology, we’re happy to shake up the world of client management solutions, and hope you’ll dig deeper into the MQ results when determining how they best match the needs of your organization. We invite you to read between the lines in the report accompanying the 2015 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Client Management Tools to see Gartner’s evaluation of KACE.
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
 Gartner Critical Capabilities for Client Management Tools
10 June 2015 by Kevin Knox and Terrence Cosgrove