blog-it-automation_sqWith too many routine tasks, such as patch management and network auditing, there’s little time left for IT teams to lead in innovation. Fortunately, automation tools come to the rescue.

There’s a theory among some IT experts that many organizations are stuck with a “two-speed” IT, where only half of time of IT experts is spent on working with leading edge technologies that can provide competitive advantage for the company, while the other half is spent on dull maintenance tasks such as patching and upgrading. Actually, the real problem is that this boring half can take up about 80% of IT department’s time, making it difficult for IT staff “just to keep the lights on”.

Maintenance work is essential, especially in securing your network, but should this really take up 80% of your team’s resources, so there’s no time (or energy) left to evaluate new products and technologies? There are other methods to spend less time on the mundane. DevOps is one, where in-house developers work hand in hand with the operations folks. The end-result is less support requests for the infrastructure needs of the developers, and the fact that many of their environments are moved to the cloud contributes to this result. The move into the cloud in general also cuts down on IT work, as the cloud provider manages hardware, storage and software updates, and is responsible for securing the applications they host.

But what if your company is “stuck” with on premise IT infrastructure? If you need to take special care of compliance, data retention, user-data security (who said HIPAA?), or your management is just not buying in into the cloud story, then there’s no other way for you to improve operations but to call in automation to the rescue. Sysadmins today have a lot of tools available, which can automate patching, seamlessly keep anti-virus definitions up to date, and block data breaches in the background without a lot of human intervention.

How can you automate daily maintenance tasks?

If you want to spend more time on fun, cool, leading edge technologies that can be useful for your or your business, it’s obvious you need to find a way to spend less time on IT infrastructure maintenance. But can you do so without sacrificing security, stability, or usability?

Let’s look at what Dr. Rob Carruthers did. Dr. Carruthers runs Bayview Medical Clinic, a family practice in Nanaimo, BC, Canada, and acts as the de facto IT chief of this institution. As many other healthcare organizations with scarce IT support resources, this clinic had trouble in keeping software up to date and their infrastructure safe. With ransomware hitting US healthcare sector hard – 96% of all ransomware is detected to be targeting at medical treatment centers – it was essential to have an IT system that is always patched and secured as much as possible.

“Two PCs had Windows Update turned off completely for almost two years, and on another two PCs anti-virus software had stopped updating their anti-virus files six months earlier,” says Dr. Carruthers describing just some of the issues he faced, and adds: “In particular, Java and heavily used Adobe products such as Acrobat, Reader and Flash Player were all basically hopelessly out of date. We also had multiple browsers installed, and there was no business need for this.”

Looking for a way to reduce IT maintenance work and keep his PCs patched, Dr. Carruthers tried out GFI’s LanGuard. “All obvious patches and vulnerabilities are now identified and actively managed in a time efficient manner,” explains Dr. Carruthers the benefits of using LanGuard. This tool proved to be a huge time saver, especially on Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday, when the software giant releases its monthly set of patches and updates.

“I can now efficiently maintain the entire network of 12 PCs, and pushing upgrades on the weekends or evenings, while the office is closed, is very easy. I benefited mainly in time, but also in avoiding additional costs – if I contracted out patch and vulnerability management to an external IT company, I would be paying a $150 an hour for that service,” concludes Dr. Rob Carruthers.

For more information about how Dr. Carruthers used GFI LanGuard to create a secure IT environment in the clinic he leads, and to save time and money, check out this video.