“Be prepared” is a good motto to live by, especially when it comes to managing IT environments. Every element in your IT architecture is subject to failure. It would be foolhardy to think that everything will continue as is without problems. Proactivity is a concept that includes anticipating potential failures before they happen and creating a “just-in-case” plan to deal with each potential problem.
Proactive vs. Reactive
When something breaks down, it’s time to fix it. But wouldn’t it be better if it didn’t break down in the first place? That’s the difference between a proactive and a reactive approach to IT maintenance. Technology professionals know that the break-fix model is generally not the best way to manage an IT environment.
HAL: “I’ve just picked up a fault in the AE35 unit. It’s going to go 100% failure in 72 hours.”
— from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey
You may not have the benefit of a HAL 9000 computer in your workplace, but there are things that you can do to anticipate IT failures. Proactive maintenance helps IT managers prepare for potential problems before they occur. It starts with robust monitoring of all IT components, both software and hardware. And it’s clear that everyone must adopt the mindset that fixing small issues now can prevent major problems down the road.
Preventive vs. Predictive
Experts tell us that there is more than one way to be proactive. You might think of preventive maintenance as something that’s done on a schedule. To keep your engine in top shape, you change the oil at regular intervals, either in months or miles. In IT, hardware replacements or software updates are often planned far in advance, regardless of the actual condition of an IT component. Many companies perform after-hours maintenance windows every week or every month to address moves and changes. And the rollout of the latest software is often dictated by the manufacturer to prevent possible security or performance issues — even if the company has never yet experienced them.
Predictive maintenance is something else. It depends on the current state of the hardware or software. The trick is to make reliable and accurate predictions that make component replacement warranted and cost-effective. The traditional approach has been to collect and analyze a large amount of data in the form of key performance indicators (KPIs) to inform management decisions. In recent years, this process has become more sophisticated with the development of analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. And many “intelligent” networks are also self-healing, resolving issues with no human intervention at all.
At H&D Technologies, we use a best-of-breed software called Connectwise Automate. With this tool we are able to monitor all your systems and even predict and fix issues before they become a real problem. Connectwise Automate uses the power of automation to keep disk space optimal, patch and update software, and pinpoint and prevent potential faults before they wreak havoc on your systems.
The Benefits of Proactivity
It’s no fun when your car breaks down. Nobody likes to be stuck on the side of the road either waiting for road service or trying to fix the problem yourself. If you’re proactive, on the other hand, you have your vehicle checked by a capable mechanic at regular intervals. You make sure your tires are in good condition with adequate air, and you keep a good spare in the back.All these proactive practices serve to keep you on the road.
The biggest benefit of proactivity in an IT environment is business continuity. You want to keep your business going without any unplanned failures or interruptions. Preventing downtime is one of the keys to success in today’s connected world.
Proactivity is also important for performance and productivity. Continuous improvement is the hallmark of a growing enterprise. By analyzing KPIs, as shown in our monitoring dashboard below, and making incremental adjustments, your network will keep getting better over time.
And of course, there’s the financial aspect. Everyone knows that taking small steps now can prevent a future disaster. A simple repair or maintenance on your car might mean you don’t have an expensive engine replacement later. Keeping your IT environment in top shape will definitely save you money over the long term.
IT Monitoring and Management
There are many facets to the information technology industry, and many distinct job responsibilities. Some IT professionals design networks, and others maintain them. IT operations and maintenance is the sub-field of the IT industry that includes the proactive monitoring necessary to keep an IT environment in good shape. Traditionally, this involved placing technicians in a network operations center (NOC), where they would constantly monitor network elements for problems. If the IT element was green, everything was ok. Red meant that it was out of service. And yellow meant that there was some other problem.
Analytics and artificial intelligence are gradually replacing humans in the monitoring of IT devices. Either way, smart business owners make sure that their critical devices are under constant supervision. Without proper management, there’s no way to enjoy the many benefits of being proactive.
Some people may think that all this proactivity is unnecessary overkill. That’s fine — until the worst case scenario hits. Your IT systems may go for months without a major outage, but the downtime of a single incident can be devastating. If you weigh the benefits of being proactive against the high costs of unanticipated outages, you’ll discover that being prepared is definitely worth it.