Strategic Issues in Systems Management Part 3: Distributed Environments

Whether it’s connecting to the cloud or to remote field offices, today’s networks are much more distributed and connected than ever — in other words, more agile. Managing distributed assets at a strategic level requires overcoming challenges such as limited bandwidth, siloed cloud platforms, and hybrid cloud/legacy infrastructures, among others. Executive management doesn’t care. What they do care about are strategic initiatives held hostage by the time and effort needed to overcome these challenges.

That means system management needs to be agile too — offering IT a single management layer that enables reports, audits, monitors, configuration controls, policy automation, and other management features to apply equally everywhere from a single point of control. Among other things, this in turn requires a simple, universal, and fully secure “wire” that can connect the management system to practically anything you want managed. In other words, there is no requirement for to have in place address management, port mapping schemes, or the establishment of cumbersome VPNs to all the sites, or any other forms of IT “overhead.” All you should need is your trusted outbound port 80 to enable highly effective management of your distributed network of devices.

Even though C-level managers may not care about these technical details of systems management, they can easily appreciate its strategic implications. In fact, what may really impress them is just how many of these strategic issues you can address with just this one topic.

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Strategic Issues in Systems Management Part 2: Mobile

Kaseya BYOD containerization

If there is one IT issue C-level managers understand it’s the connection between mobile devices and workforce morale, productivity and agility. After all, most of them are big smartphone users themselves. That raises the question of what to do about BYOD.

One challenge is platform diversity. Gone are the days when IT could enforce a Windows-only or Internet Explorer-only standard.  So IT has the management challenge of how to bring all these devices together in a single holistic view with a common set of metrics and controls despite their differing technical attributes. The other alternative — having a different management view for every platform — defeats the purpose of unified system management and in fact would be unworkable.

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Strategic Issues in Systems Management Part 1: Compliance and Security

IT directors looking to engage their company’s C-level leadership on issues of strategic relevance might wish to consider systems management as a worthy topic. Few other activities offer as much enterprise leverage — whether you’re talking compliance, security, mobile, or distributed environments. Here is part one we are going to look at compliance and security:


Systems management is how you enforce compliance when handling information across the enterprise — and a key part of that is policy automation. The ideal scenario is a single dashboard that provides one unified point of control over all IT assets, including remote endpoints such as employee laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Policy automation, as part of that scenario, means you assert control in a scalable, auditable and timely way — especially if your management tools come with “out-of-the-box” scripts you can tailor rather than build from scratch. Such “out of the box” system management can, for example:

  • Assign multiple policies to each machine
  • Determine which policies are obeyed or ignored if a conflict arises
  • Check that each machine assigned one or more policies is in compliance
  • Show policy status across the organization on a consolidated dashboard
  • Enable manual policy overrides


One of the fastest ways for IT can attract C-level attention, and not in a good way, is to be the target of a successful cyber attack. Yet, even though data security is an obvious strategic concern, there’s a temptation to regard the issue as “handled” once a tactical solution, namely data security software, has been adopted. The reality is, however, that addressing data security at a strategic level calls for marrying data security with comprehensive systems management.

In fact, system management and data security solutions have a complementary relationship. Data security solutions can, for example, detect wireless intrusion, control system access, manage passwords and protect against viruses and spyware. What it can’t do (but good system management can) is provide a single holistic view of system health, including any security alerts generated by the data security software. That also includes monitoring suspicious spikes in utilization of bandwidth or other resources — conditions that might indicate an attack in progress. And it can also provide detailed logging of critical events across all IT, which, among other things, would be vital for reconstructing everything that occurred leading up to a security event. But perhaps most importantly, what good system management is uniquely qualified to do is monitor the software update status (including virus signature updates) and enable patches to be applied easily and automatically across the entire enterprise as needed.

Join us for Part 2 when we talk about how to handle BYOD and most importantly how to secure employees’ personal mobile devices within enterprise system management — without ruffling employee feathers over privacy or ruffling the business’ feathers over data security.


image: getty images

Welcome 365 Command to our Kaseya family!


We are thrilled to announce today that 365 Command, is now a part of the portfolio of world class IT systems management products at Kaseya. 365 Command is a one-of-a-kind, hosted service for those wanting an easier way to manage your Microsoft Office 365 subscription. 365 Command reduces the complexity of performing common administrative tasks and troubleshooting issues and replaces the Powershell interface with a rich, HTML 5 web interface. Your helpdesk staff will no longer have to struggle with PowerShell scripts for common tasks.

This acquisition confirms the importance of reliable, easy to use cloud application management in today’s IT environments.   Read the full announcement here.

IT Operations Need Integrated APM Dashboards & Packet Data

There are many proposed approaches to Application Performance Management – one approach is collecting performance data from the application itself while the other is collecting application data from packet data by sniffing on the network. Fetching metrics from the application process itself yields valuable data such as memory, buffers, cache and other such application data which cannot be obtained from the wire. On the other hand, performance metrics from the network itself gives a good breakdown of response times and delays from the different components of the entire service.

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Gain Customers and Capabilities Without Spending a Dime

You already know that IT management isn’t easy – and it’s only going to get more challenging with the sunset of Windows XP and the fact that SMBs are continuing their focus on cost control and cash conservation (which means they want a rock solid business case before refreshing ageing PCs).  I probably don’t have to tell you that some 36% of SMBs surveyed for the latest Techaisle report said that they had PCs that were at least four years old.  You’re probably working on some of them or keeping them on life support right now.

SMBs think they are saving money by choosing to not refresh, but when you consider the true costs of maintaining an older PC, you see this just isn’t true.  PCs built with 4th generation Intel Core vPro processors deliver up to $585 in total cost savings over the life of the PC.  With savings like that, it’s hard to argue that limping along with an old PC is anything but cost defective.

But maybe you – and your customers – haven’t yet deployed PCs with Intel vPro.  We know that some MSPs and IT consultants have avoided implementing vPro because, well, quite frankly, it hasn’t always been easy to do.

Avoiding Additional Screen Time

But not any more. The Kaseya vPro Navigator is a technical online reference tool that is simple to use and specific to your Kaseya environment. Developed by Intel and Kaseya, it gives detailed, step-by-step instructions on provisioning vPro-based PCs and using the powerful vPro remote management functions already integrated into Kaseya.

Jerry Arthur, Technical Services Manager at CRU Solutions and Kaseya user had this to say, “The Kaseya vPro Navigator answers many of the questions I had when I was initially setting vPro up.  If I would have had the vPro Navigator during those stages, I would have saved hours of time.”

Crawl, Walk, Then Run!

Take a look at the Kaseya vPro Navigator and see how quickly you can learn to use Intel vPro functions—such as remote power up and hardware-based KVM Remote Control— to save significant time and money.

Derek Fowler, president of MSP, iON Management, says, “Our whole business is centered on Kaseya – we’d be lost without it. However, using vPro-based PCs in conjunction with our Kaseya management console gives us better remote control and better communication with the device. vPro’s integration into Kaseya allows us to fix more problems remotely and really smoothes out some rough edges. It increases the value that we can deliver to customers.”

Oh, and by the way, using PCs with Intel vPro Technology in conjunction with Kaseya helped iON Management reduce their PC repair times 43%.

You can gain the same value that iON Management has found by using the Kaseya vPro Navigator to take advantage of Intel vPro technology-based PCs that may already be in your installed base, or to easily deploy Intel vPro technology-based PCs from any major manufacturer. The Kaseya vPro Navigator gives you step-by-step instructions and extensive screen captures (Kaseya screens and PC BIOS screens) and lets you benefit from the best-known-methods that other Kaseya users have discovered.

According to Dennison Lee, an engineer at Nucleus Networks, “The Navigator was very straightforward and definitely a plus compared to having to dig into a traditional User Guide.”

With more than 100 million deployed systems over 4 years old, you have an incredible opportunity to improve your SMB customers’ efficiency and backend infrastructure.  And with the Kaseya vPro Navigator, you can improve your own efficiency and infrastructure, as well.

What do you think of the Kaseya vPro Navigator?  Let me know here or on Twitter @Eric_D_Townsend.

ERIC TOWNSEND is the director of MSP and SMB marketing for Intel Corp. For more than 18 years, his work has encompassed tools across the computing spectrum—from devices to services to software. Eric has worked with companies in industry verticals including healthcare, retail, manufacturing, and services, and believes strongly in the efficiencies and value created by Managed Service Providers and the technologies they deploy.  You can follow him on Twitter @Eric_D_Townsend.


The Cure for Adversity: Backup and Recovery

IT data backup and disaster recovery

In recent years, Mother Nature has certainly dished out a lot of adversity, and the smartest-run businesses have taken note and prepared for the worst with comprehensive disaster recovery strategies. Any business without one is playing with fire.

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U.S. Government Indicts 5 Global Hackers in Ring Targeting Retailers

Federal prosecutors have charged one Ukrainian and four Russian hackers with stealing credit card and other financial information from companies including J.C. Penney, Carrefour, 7-Eleven, Jet Blue Airways and Dow Jones.

The indictment that was unsealed in New Jersey on July 25 details a computer crime spree that began in 2005 and netted hundreds of millions of dollars, a sum sufficient to make it  “possibly the biggest hacking scheme ever prosecuted by the U.S. government” according to government sources quoted in a Wall Street Journal article about the case.

The indictment details how the hackers scouted retailers in 2007 and 2008 to determine the types of payment processing systems in use. The hackers penetrated corporate networks and installed software that allowed them back door access the systems later.

According to the same WSJ article, the hackers used leased computers in New Jersey, Latvia, the Bahamas, Panama and other places to carry out their attacks and even set up Google alerts to let them know when the data breeches had become news so that they could stay ahead of law enforcement agencies.

The five persons named in the indictment as co-conspirators face a variety of charges that include operating a computer hacking conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The five are Alexandr Kalinin, Vladimir Drinkman, Dmitriy Smilianets, Roman Kotov and Mikhail Tytikov. Smilianets is in U.S. custody and Drinkman is in custody in the Netherlands pending extradition, but the other three remain at large and may be in Russia. The five allegedly stole more than 160 million credit and debit card numbers and caused a payment processor to lose of more than 200M.

The WSJ reports that Mr. Kalinin has been charged by the U.S. District Attorney in Manhattan with being a part of two separate scams, one to hack NASDAQ servers and another to steal bank account information for 800,000 accounts.

Retailers are facing increasingly frequent and costly attacks by hackers from Eastern Europe and across the globe. The costs of a data breach in retail IT can be substantial and include loss of reputation, revenue, trust and fines from card companies and regulators.

Learn some of the ways that retailers are achieving better data security and IT asset management from this on demand briefing: Retail IT 2013: Data Security and PCI Compliance.

BYOD #1 on Educause’s Top 10 IT Issues in Higher Education for 2013

Educause convenes its IT issues panel every year for a wide ranging discussion of the most important issues facing education IT professionals at colleges and universities. This year, BYOD tops its list and appears again as a key part of #8:

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Secure BYOD Is About Containing Not Restraining

Secure BYOD with containers

It has become very difficult to read about IT systems management lately without reading something about BYOD; the risks; the challenges; the dilemma; the conundrum. You get the idea. BYOD is a hot topic because it presents traditional IT departments and providers with a unique set of system management concerns that can’t be overlooked.

First efforts surrounding BYOD were policy driven for most IT pros. IT had to choose a position on whether THEY were going to allow users to BYOD or not. It was a logical first response, but now the reality is that IT, in most cases, has been overruled by the users and frankly by the business value of allowing end users to use their own mobile devices for company work.

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