Tag Archive - Automation

How Higher Education IT Pros Can Ace the Distributed Endpoint Management Test


IT pros in higher education are faced with challenges peers in other industries don’t usually worry about. In education, there are multiple constituencies which adds to management complexity, including administration, faculty, researchers, an ever-changing student body, and alumni and donors.

Beyond that, most colleges are non-profits, so budgets are always an issue. At the same, competition for students means that costs must be kept low, while at the same time the schools must embrace new technologies that provide competitive advantage.

The last two items, keeping costs in check and driving innovation are the tricky ones. That’s because too many higher education IT pros are constantly chasing down current problems, just trying to keep the wheels turning properly, and don’t have the time to explore new technology options.
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Automation Exchange — MSPs’ Secret RMM Weapon


When you buy a car you might ask your auto enthusiast friends for advice. When it comes to maximizing the use of your RMM, wouldn’t you want the same kind of expertise from your MSP peers?

That help and insight can come from a community of trusted MSPs that are willing to share real world automation solutions they’ve come up with.

Automation is the name of the RMM game, but it can take come clever scripting and templating to apply automation to more than just common routine tasks. And out-of-the-ordinary tasks often benefit the most from automation. Continue Reading…

Best of Breed vs. Closed, Integrated Solutions: The 1990s Called and Want Their Debate Back


In a recent blog, I explored how it’s no longer enough for MSPs to have RMM solutions that enable ‘automation.’ Today’s MSP 2.0 world requires powerful, easily customized policy-based automation.

In this blog, I want to discuss another long-held assumption about technology that no longer holds true ─namely, the idea that an MSP has to choose between selecting a series of best-of-breed solutions or committing to a closed, integrated solution set.

On the one hand, the old story goes, you invest in point solutions that are the best fit for your business’ particular needs, but then pay the price with suboptimal integration and interoperability between and among these technologies.  Or, on the other hand, you bite the bullet and commit to one vendor’s offerings.  That way, you sacrifice the ‘best fit’ but can be confident that the systems all work together seamlessly.
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Small Banks and Credit Unions Don’t Have to Face Risks Alone

finance-risk-management (2)

If banks and credit unions didn’t understand the importance of Risk Management before, they all got quite the wakeup call during the financial meltdown of 2007-2008.

After that catastrophe, banks tightened the reins due to massive losses. At the same time, regulators became far more diligent, and were suddenly armed with thousands of new rules to enforce. Talk about a Risk Management mandate.

The definition of Risk Management for banking is pretty straightforward: you find the risks, assess them, and then prioritize. Once so defined, you figure out what resources you need to monitor risks, and minimize the chances that risks turn into harm. Continue Reading…

How To Turbocharge Profits with Policy-based Automation

turbocharge blog

The case for automation to enable efficient, effective and proactive IT management seems unassailable.

By applying IT automation to core IT functions, you can save a significant amount of time and money. Did you know that 40% of the time spent fixing a problem is analyzing and isolating the root cause? At the same time, 75% of most IT budgets simply go towards maintaining the status quo and keeping existing systems running.

What is automation, you may ask.  It is really anything that allows an MSP technicians to be more productive by, for example, being able to repair a problem in a fraction of the time it took before. In addition, since many issues are fixed quickly, Mean Time to Recovery (MTTR) improves and many problems are cut off at the pass and resolved before they impact end users.

Enterprise Management Associates’ (EMA) primary research has determined that MSPs and IT groups that implement automation reap many benefits, Continue Reading…

How to Automate Every IT Process You Want To – Even When It Seems Like You Can’t

finding-automationLast month, I talked about how to prioritize your automation efforts in 2 steps.  Before you jump into the first project that comes to mind, first identify all potential automation projects, and then prioritize them based on benefits– either time savings or better customer experience.  Sometimes, though, there’s a great project – one where automation will benefit both your IT staff and your business – but there’s no straight-forward way to automate the process.

This month, I’ll discuss the best way to go about automating any single process in a direct manner even when you can’t automate using a GUI alone.
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Looking to Increase Automation?  2 Simple Steps to Start Off Right!

automateI talk to MSPs a lot about automation and how important automation is to increasing efficiency, productivity, and IT performance.   Research from Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) determined that implementing automation reduces operating system deployment time by 68% on average, and time spent managing virus and spyware systems by 83% on average.

So it’s not a surprise that MSPs often ask me, “How do I automate?”   My answer is always, “Well, it’s not that simple to tell you.”

Which isn’t the answer they’re looking for.

What makes this such a hard question to answer?  I thought about this a lot recently, and realize it’s because figuring out WHAT to automate is very different for each MSP.  So much depends on their particular customer base, services, and in-house IT expertise.

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The Real Reason Your Workforce Is Not As Productive As It Should Be


Chances are, in an average day, you are not accomplishing as many tasks as you would like… and neither are your colleagues or your employees. What is mystifying about that statement is that it seems today’s workforce is putting in more hours and more effort than ever before coinciding with an increased adoption of IT devices and applications designed to improve user productivity. In fact, this has been a key driver for organizations to enable workforce mobility – to provide flexibility in accessing business IT resources (applications, data, email, and other services) from any device at any location at any time in order to improve overall business performance. But even the most accomplished business professionals must admit there are days when little gets done despite herculean efforts.

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3 Things Your Password Management Solution Must Provide

Password Requirements

When was the last time an employee left your company?
Was it one month ago? Two?

Gone are the days of the lifelong career. Sure, if you work in education there’s the possibility of tenured professors, but for the average MSP there’s no such thing, and as such there is a significant amount of employee turnover. No matter how hard you try to retain your employees, some are going to be taken from you, and some of those employees are bound to be technicians.

It’s always sad whenever a technician leaves a company, but the IT security risk their departure leaves behind can linger even longer. You can lock their personal accounts after they leave and have them return their keycards, but you can’t remove all knowledge of you and your clients systems, applications, networks, and the associated usernames and passwords from their minds.

Now consider the ever increasing risk of a data breach, and the value of your clients’ data.

Your clients expect that, along with whatever other services you provide, you will help protect them from the risk of a breach, yet every time a technician leaves your company a set of keys to unlock your clients’ secured systems is being released into the world. Many businesses would be bankrupted by even a single breach, and your ex-employees have the means of walking casually past their security and into their systems. How do you think your clients would feel if they knew that?

As a business working in IT, the security of all systems, your clients’ and your own, must be at the forefront of your focus. When it comes to passwords, you need to have a plan in place which accounts for technicians leaving your company. Many MSPs I’ve seen lack such a plan, and that runs afoul of the oldest IT truism “always be prepared”. To be well prepared, there are three critical features your plan needs to work successfully…


Your system, no matter how it’s set up, absolutely needs some auditing functionality. This allows you to check:

  • Who has accessed certain passwords, and when.
  • If the stored passwords are on par with any complexity or compliance requirements.
  • If the stored passwords are accurate and actually match the ones being used.
  • Who the contact with authority is, should something go wrong.

Access control

No technician should ever need to know every single password at any given time. Access control allows you to restrict that access to need-to-know only. The most common way of accomplishing this is be enacting a role-based access model, where users in certain roles have access to certain passwords. At the minimum your system should allow you to:

  • Control who can access certain passwords.
  • Control what access a user has to passwords (read-only, write-only, hidden, etc.)
  • Securely store the passwords in a central location, while providing access to virtually everywhere.


An excel spreadsheet just won’t cut it for this requirement. Your system needs to be capable of doing most of these tasks automatically. If you tried to do this all manually, the work required would likely be a full-time job of its own. Your system should be able to automate all of the requirements for auditing and access control, while simultaneously being able to:

  • Automatically change and update passwords on a set schedule.
  • Inform those in authority when a password needs changing that cannot be automated.
  • Automatically enter passwords for users who only need it to log in.

Now, a lot of these requirements sound hard to fulfill. And they are, should you try to set this up yourself. That’s just the thing though, if you were solving for the problem of malware, you wouldn’t design your own in-house antivirus. I mean, you might rebrand some open source solution, but that never ends well.

The same method you use to solve for viruses, email, or any other software requirement, can be applied to password management. Let someone else build the tools, so you don’t have to. You don’t need to invent your own password management system, you just need a password management solution.

While you’re looking for a password management solution, let me throw one more factor into the mix. If you’re reading this blog at blog.kaseya.com, there’s a good chance that you’re likely a Kaseya customer. If you are, or you’re interested in becoming one, make sure that the solution you choose supports a Kaseya integration. That way you can accomplish even more from a single pane of glass.

If you want more information on what you need from a password management system: Click Here

If you want to know what I would recommend as a password management system: Click Here

Author: Harrison Depner

IT Automation: Basic, Advanced, and Downright Creative

Automation Graphic

My last blog post discussed IT complexity and new challenges from cloud, mobility and big data which are key drivers of IT Automation. These new challenges make it hard for IT administrators to do their jobs, without increasing the level of automation. The post identified the key requirements for an automation solution, from out-of-the box functionality to policy-based management to community sharing of innovative implementations, noting that not all automaton solutions are created equal. To help crystalize the differences and the possibilities, this post provides a set of examples of each type provided by Ben Lavalley, our automation expert here at Kaseya.

Basic Automation:

In a strong automation tool, basic automation capabilities should come out-of-the-box ready to deploy. IT administrators can obtain immediate time saving and efficiency with little configuration effort. Examples include:

  • Automate actions based on monitoring of specific workstations. Monitor and create a dashboard view to identify workstations and their status. Then apply policy management to automate routine maintenance. Maintenance may include disk defrag, disk cleanup, browser history cleaning, and other actions.
  • Automate patch management with server/workstation policies for Windows patching. Configure automated patch approval and reboot settings for servers and workstations, using policy management for set-and-forget patching.
  • Automate third party application updates. Configure application deploy and update policies to keep third party applications up-to-date. IT administrators don’t need to create scripts to update Adobe, browsers, etc.
  • Automate Auditing. Run reports on machines with low memory, or open network file shares, or other characteristics, so that corrective action can be taken.

Advanced Automation:

IT administrators can deploy more advanced automation based on common agent and other procedures. Examples include:

  • Configure Service Desk for automated remediation of monitoring alerts. Run service or machine restarts to try to resolve a reported issue. In addition, collect diagnostic information from the offending system and add the results of the diagnosis directly into the notes of the ticket, so technicians have the valuable information they need to address the root cause of the problem more quickly.
  • Use policy-based automation for select servers. Audit server roles, e.g., Exchange, Sequel, Controller, etc., with dashboard views that have been filtered for location and server type, then create a policy (using policy management) that applies on-going monitoring and reporting based on system attributes.
  • Automate the end-user portal. Customize and automate the end-user portal (via the management agent), to help end users deal with basic issues. Publish bulletins, “how-to” information, etc., and provide procedures for end-users to run on their own machines for self-help.
  • Establish policy-based automation for application management. Set a policy for applications that start-up automatically, then detect for non-compliance to policy. Non-compliant applications can also be removed automatically, if desired, to improve workstation performance and remove potential security issues.

Creative Automation:

Talented IT administrators like to get creative, and good automation solutions provide the tools to do so. Creative solutions are usually built using some combination of out-of-the-box capabilities along with light scripting. Examples include:

  • Stolen laptop recovery. Automate the capture of desktop screenshots and even pinpoint the geographic location of the laptop with wireless network collection (using Google location APIs). It can result in a very surprised thief being apprehended in a coffee shop, for example.
  • Automate email, e.g., Exchange server, Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring. Run a regular email test to proactively test that a mail server can send and/or receive mail.
  • Clean up the “bloatware”. Establish an approved workstation configuration, detect deviations, and automatically clean-up the “bloatware”. Patrick Magee, from Howard Hughes Corporation, has reduced help desk tickets by 50% with this automation solution.

Regardless of the size of your business, you can improve operational efficiency and productivity through IT automation. Moreover, reducing human involvement wherever possible frees up the IT team to deal with the new challenges posed by cloud, mobility and big data. In harnessing these new technologies, the IT team becomes a partner to the organization, helping to drive business success.

For more information on Kaseya automation capabilities, visit our IT Automation website: http://www.kaseya.com/features/kaseya-platform/it-automation.


Tom Hayes, VP Product Marketing, Kaseya

Ben Lavalley, Product Management, Kaseya

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