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Remote management of applications frees your people from mundane tasks

IT Best Practices Alert By Linda Musthaler, Network World
December 15, 2011 02:22 PM ET
Linda Musthaler
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The CIO-level business angle on the latest tech

It seems like everything we read today is about moving your business applications to the cloud to gain flexibility and reduce costs. While this may be a good long-term strategy, the reality is that most organizations still house the majority of their applications in a traditional fashion. But there's still opportunity to shave costs and gain flexibility in your workforce even with those workhorse applications staying right where they are today.

There’s a business model that allows companies to outsource the management and operations of their business applications while keeping the hardware and software in-house or hosting it in a private cloud at a third party data center. In essence, the only thing that moves "to the cloud" is the resource that monitors and manages commodity business applications like email, document management, collaboration and unified communications. By outsourcing the routine operational tasks, you can free up your IT staff to perform more strategic work while reducing operational costs.

ANALYSIS: Cloud computing disrupts the vendor landscape

Azaleos is a managed services provider that specializes in the remote monitoring and management of commodity applications like Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Active Directory and Lync Server. The company has developed its own technology called AzaleosX that allows it to gather and package operational information from customers' servers and bring it back to the company's Network Operations Centers (NOCs) for analysis and action.

The AzaleosX platform has two main components: ViewX for monitoring, alerting, reporting and visualization, and SecureX for management and remediation. A lightweight agent for ViewX is placed on the servers you want Azaleos to monitor and manage.

ViewX collects specific server data points, compresses them, and sends them to the Azaleos back-end system where Azaleos applies best practice rules. Anomalies in the data trigger alerts to the NOC staff. Then expert engineers proactively remediate issues using the SecureX management module, which provides secure remote access to your servers to resolve issues quickly and securely. The remote access enables logged, auditable, repeatable and scripted remote command execution that doesn't require any changes in your security practices. For example, the Azaleos engineers can apply patches and system updates, make configuration changes and perform other routine maintenance tasks.

The data that ViewX collects and sends to the Azaleos NOC is strictly server and application performance and operations data. Azaleos doesn't collect and has no visibility into customer email content or business-related data from the applications it monitors. Also, because Azaleos collects this same type of operational data from numerous customers, the aggregated anonymous data helps the engineers identify anomalies and trends so they can be proactive in remediating potential issues even before they pose a problem.

Azaleos engineers are certified on the applications and systems they support, and the company has certified design architects on staff to help customers architect their IT platforms if needed. One of the benefits of this outsourcing model is that you can gain access to experts with the right set of skills for the tasks they need to perform.

Linda Musthaler is a principal analyst with Essential Solutions Corporation.

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