Considerations when choosing a new IT Service Management tool

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When it comes to deciding on a new IT Service Management solution for your organization, there’s a wide array of products to choose from. Whilst certain considerations such as size, budget and specific organizational needs will be different from one company to the next, there are some essential criteria areas that will be common among most during the ITSM tool selection process. Here, we examine the eight key elements that should to be considered during the decision making process.

1) Out of the box readiness

It’s obvious that choosing a tool that most suits your needs straight out of the box will always be more convenient to get set up and functioning compared to a tool that requires lots of early stage configuration. What is often less obvious during this stage of the selection process is checking to see if the product will require any additional software packages in order to operate as required and also deliver any specific requirements that the organization has. As well as this, considerations should be given and even tested as to the specific platforms the new product will support such as Windows operating systems, browser editions and mobile compatibilities.

2) Customization and flexibility

Many tools allow the flexibility to easily customize components of the product such as forms, fields, reports, workflows and permissions. The ability to customize these items is often a very important deciding factor when choosing a new ITSM product. Not having the ability to customize such areas of the product prevents you from being able to tailor the product to your organization’s needs now and in the future. Even if the product does allow for customization, consideration should be given as to how easily these changes can be made. Will it require a third party consultant or can the customizations be carried out by internal IT resource. Similarly, it’s important to check if future software updates will have any effect on both the customizations that have been made and on any third party integrations that work with the product such as remote desktop platforms.

3) On premise or hosted

For many organizations choosing a product that has the option of being hosted or being available via the cloud makes sense. Typically a hosted product requires little or no maintenance, has no additional cost in terms of hardware and can easily be accessed from anywhere using most web browsers. However, many organizations still prefer to keep such products hosted locally so that they can easily and securely access to the information that’s contained in its databases. The other advantage of having the data readily available is in a scenario of having to migrate the information to a different product at a later stage. As the data is hosted in your environment, it’s often easier to extract and move to a new database than it would be if the data resides in the cloud.

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Addressing the pains of systems migrations and infrastructure changes - Part 2

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In part one of this blog series, we looked at the security risks faced by organizations running outdated operating systems. While many businesses still rely on Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 environments, the implications of unsupported architecture can have a major impact on business operations.

In this part of the series, we will explore the system requirements and configurations that should be considered as you to prepare your environment for operating system migrations.

More often than not, when IT departments are conducting large operating system migrations or the roll out of new a new OS, the hardware requirements of the new software can be easily overlooked. This common oversight can lead to failure with installations of the new operating systems and result in disruption to business continuity. Poorly planned migrations often leave IT support technicians scrambling to resolve the system failures while end users are left without functioning machines. These impacts to productivity trigger a domino effect as IT gets inundated with incoming support issues from frustrated end users and critical departments such as accounting, finance or production facilities.

 

Not exactly the most efficient way of accomplishing the new operating system roll out or making friends! Additionally, who's going to take the flak when management starts asking some rather difficult questions?

So how do we prevent this situation - or more realistically - reduce the number of failures when conducting OS upgrades on a large scale? While some obstacles should be expected when migrating complex environments, appropriate planning can significantly reduce downtime and unnecessary stress on resources.

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Addressing the pains of systems migrations and infrastructure changes - Part 1

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One of the most daunting, challenging and time consuming projects for IT teams is the upgrade and roll out of a new operating system. Migrations drain resources and can be disruptive to business operations if not planned for in advance. That said, in today’s landscape of increasing security risks, it’s imperative that IT teams respond to these updates in a timely manner in order to prevent introducing unnecessary risk to corporate assets.

In the last year alone we have seen the end of life for Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, and Microsoft has released a sunset date for Windows Vista in 2017 and Windows Server 2008 in 2020. Still, nearly 17% of internet users worldwide are using XP and they are dreading the impeding force to a new operating system. Governments, large corporations and health care systems have been clinging to their dying XP OS while they waited for the long anticipated Windows 10 release before investing the effort and cost into migration.

The resistance to migrations isn’t isolated to user machines. Windows Server 2003 houses millions of business applications. Gartner estimates that there are still 8 million of these servers in operation, most of them running mission critical infrastructure like ERP and CRM systems. Whilst the number of machines running Windows Server 2003 might be much smaller by comparison, taking the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach leaves companies exposed to the looming threat of security breaches.

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Deploy Microsoft Office using BOSS Support Central in 5 Easy Steps

Customized Deployment of Microsoft Office using BOSS Support Central – Easy Steps

The successor of the famous Office Resource Kit Tools (ORK) to customize the Office installation is now called Office Customization Tool (OCT) and is included within the original setup so you don’t need to download anything.

Step 1 – Creating the MSP file

To start the Office Customization Tool (OCT) type setup.exe /admin.

At the end of the process, the OCT saves your choices in a MSP file. The customization file results in uniform default configuration of the product for all users. You can allow Setup to apply the customization file automatically by storing it in the Updates folder at the root of the network installation point. During the installation, Setup finds and applies all the MSP files in the Updates folder – both customization files and Software Updates – that match that product.

Step 2 – Read more about customizing the MSP file

You can specify an alternate location for MSP files in Config.xml, or you can point to a particular customization file by using the /adminfile command-line option.

This is a good resource about the OCT on the web.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc179097.aspx

Step 3 – Just do it!
Option A— setup.exe <if the MSP file is saved in the default folder>
The custom installation can be invoked by running setup.exe with no commandline parameters if the custom .MSP file was saved in the Updates folder off the root of the installation directory. In the Microsoft Office installations all .MSP’s located in the Updates folder are applied during setup making it easy to add updates to the base installation as they become available. This is easier than the previous method of slipstreaming updates and patches into the Office setup routine by applying patches to an administrative installation point. Instead with Microsoft Office you simply have to copy the .MSP files to the Updates folder and setup will process them during the installation routine.

Support Central Usage:
Setup Path: \\servername\share\folder\setup.exe
Unattended Options: None <assuming that .MSP file is available in the Updates folder>
Option B— setup.exe /adminfile <Fully qualified path to the custom .MSP>

If the custom .MSP created with the OCT wasn’t saved to the Updates folder you can run setup against it by adding the /adminfile switch and pointing to the network location of the .MSP.

i.e. setup.exe /adminfile \\server\share\custom\custom.msp

BOSS Support Central Usage:
Setup Path: \\servername\share\folder\setup.exe
Unattended Options: None /adminfile \\server\share\custom\custom.msp

Easy Office Deployment

Easy Office Deployment

Step 4 – Mass Deployment using BOSS Support Central

Go to the BOSS Support Central Console and choose the OU / Computers that you want to deploy Microsoft Office . Right click and send a Request to “Deploy Package” and choose Microsoft Office.

Step 5 – Sit back and Relax!!

Your virtual employee BOSS Support Central is taking care of your Microsoft Office roll out – investment $$$ @ work!

BOSS has helped several customers in improving Operational Efficiency through IT automation.We are experts in ITAM / ITIL implementation.

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