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By Rick Gines

As I sit in my office, I periodically look over at a fake plastic tree nearby. As I look at it, about the only maintenance that it would ever need is a periodic dusting. It doesn’t require any sunlight, water or fertilizer to keep its color or shape.                                                                                     

Contrast this to the flower boxes around my home. Since I live in a climate that carries all four seasons, there is a point where no plants are able to thrive. During the winter, the plant energy retreats into the root system to hibernate, and when the ground temperature is warm enough, things begin to grow again. The problem is that sometimes weeds apparently receive this warm weather trigger when the temperature is barely above freezing. No flowers grow, but the weeds are in full-on growth mode as soon as the snow melts. Left untamed, the weeds will sprout, and if nothing is done, they will overtake the flowers.

So, how is this analogy akin to IT Management? Well, to be honest, the fake tree has very little to do with it, but if you do nothing to improve and maintain your IT Management situation, eventually, you’ll be tossed out as my fake tree will be someday. IT Management must be more like how I attack the weeds in my flower boxes. If your IT infrastructure is left unchecked, weeds will appear. These IT “weeds” could be anything from an unpatched desktop, to the wiring closet that has more patch cables than original wiring, to VM sprawl (the morning glory of weeds), to an untrained user who opens every email sent to him/her. These IT weeds start small — but spread. Good IT Management practices will have tools, policies, and procedures defined to discover these IT weeds quickly, and snuff them out while they are still small. Without best practices, you’ll never discover these weeds until it’s too late – when they damage the flowers around them, leading to IT service disruptions.

My advice, given my experience in this industry, is to follow a couple of very simple steps and always adhere to the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid). First, know what you have to maintain and stay on top of it. How many flower gardens do you own? Is it the whole yard (a small company’s IT), a corner flower bed (the web server pool) or the prize rose garden (the new private cloud initiative)? Once you have defined your boundaries, always know what’s there, and keep on top of anything that changes.

Second, build in maintenance periods for your “turf.” No one likes unplanned downtime, but maintenance periods, scheduled well in advance, are invaluable. They allow you the time to remove the unwanted weeds in your specific garden, for pruning last year’s growth (deleting unused VMs, reclaiming licenses), fertilizing for new growth (adding storage or memory), or simply adding new plants (new services, or software) to the mix. A regular maintenance plan will help keep your IT infrastructure weed-free for the entire growing season.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This adage holds true whether for the weeds in your flower bed or IT Management. It’s all about being proactive to protect your business – but you often don’t necessarily have the time or resources to do it. Instead of spending upwards of 30 hours a month troubleshooting connectivity issues or needless hours troubleshooting misconfigured devices because you didn’t have alerting or automated configuration management in place, with the WhatsConnected and WhatsConfigured plugins, you’ll have proactive IT management without the labor.  With real-time insight into unauthorized configuration changes with WhatsConfigured, and automatic discovery of all your connected resources across your entire infrastructure with WhatsConnected, you’ll be on top of changes in your infrastructure the moment they happen – before these IT “weeds” turn into major business disruptions. Try 30-day free trials of WhatsConnected and WhatsConfigured today.

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