IT professionals may be used to dealing with the threat of viruses, but certainly not the pandemic that is coronavirus. Nearly all industries will be impacted by the ongoing spread of the virus and we need to be aware of the potential IT and related business issues that could arise.
Disruption to IT operations in the data centres that organisations rely on, for example, is inevitable during this pandemic. With travel restrictions escalating daily, from closed borders to shelter in place orders, last-mile IT field engineers may be prevented from accessing the facilities that they have critical responsibility for maintaining and repairing. And even if they can get to a customer location, physical access to customer premises to resolve hardware faults in the data centre – like switching out a simple drive – may be restricted as a result of quarantine.
For another potential disruptor, let’s observe this situation from one step back. Field engineers who maintain data centre hardware are dependent upon parts to resolve faults in IT infrastructures and systems. And although fans and power supplies typically may be commonplace and inexpensive, these are not typical times. A part that normally may be available the same day or overnight may now be subject to a timetable created for higher-order public health concerns if it’s shipped to or from geographic regions where there is restricted movement. Both the manufacturing and distribution of such parts are likely to be delayed, which would also cause delays in implementing the fix.
Maintaining a semblance of regular operations requires steps to minimise these disruptions. Enterprises with IT asset management control are more likely to be able to maintain stable IT operations. These organisations are armed with the knowledge of where all of their hardware assets are located in the world, especially in relation to restricted regions and activities, as well as the ability to detect faults that may occur during this global challenge.
In addition, automation, robotics and AI are increasingly prevalent in the digital age and organisations have adopted these advanced technologies to support their business and IT operations. The application of dynamic baselining is one example where organisations are realising value from predictive analytics to proactively manage infrastructure. Another example is the integration of technologies like S.M.A.R.T. events which can generate alerts prior to actual failure. Organisations are applying remote automation and AI to help ensure that their IT infrastructures continue to operate, down to automated and proactive fault detection and resolution capabilities.
AI tools have the power to predict and self-learn through patterns, potentially helping alleviate IT issues and resolve faults quicker than through human interaction. In times like these, it’s not only faster, but possible, when human interaction is restricted.
With remote monitoring tools, companies can automate fault resolution processes for hardware infrastructures. Remote monitoring tools can initiate service tickets for hardware component failures, with agents that poll systems remotely through standard protocols like SNMP, WMI and SSH and then communicate hardware events back to the IT administrator through an outbound TCP connection. This process ensures IT operations (and business) continue despite quarantined areas, restricted business and limited staff.
In addition, effective IT customer service portals further enables enterprise customers to raise and monitor service tickets from any device, potentially getting their faults logged, tracked and resolved rapidly at a time when call centers and their staff may be overwhelmed.
Beyond customer service portals, mobile applications can place these capabilities in the palm of your hand. Mobile apps enable users to identify devices that need support by simply using the phone’s camera to scan the bar code. The application then decodes the bar code and automatically populates the corresponding serial number in a ticket submission form. Companies using mobile apps through traditional portals can elevate the convenience and efficiency of service and attention, all while finding a new way to stay connected.
Disruptions are inevitable in the current crisis we are facing. With a compromised workforce, multiple services and tools can alleviate the pressure on IT operations and bring peace of mind to businesses. Most critically, automation and remote monitoring can play a massive part in keeping IT services running smoothly so that businesses can maintain continuity and certainty in these very uncertain times.
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