Using Technology for a Cohesive IT Infrastructure and to Provide an Increased Level of Support at ABC Corporation AbstractThe business problem to be solved is how to use technologies to improve IT processes and response time in order to provide an increased level of support to the internal end users all while balancing the overt need to provide users with a responsive service with operational efficiency and budgetary constraints. Brief Company BackgroundABC Corporation (ABC) has built a business out of providing engineering, consulting, construction, and operations services. The company counts public and private entities among its global customer network.
Founded in 1947 as a partnership between three engineers, incorporated in 1970, ABC has expanded from its original role in water-treatment technologies to provide services in environmental management, transportation development, and facilities design. ABC provides lasting and integrated solutions in environmental management, water treatment and supply, energy, wastewater treatment, and hazardous waste markets to government, public, and private clients worldwide. The employee-owned company operates about 120 offices with more than 5000 employees globally. The company has grown in size and has diversified their business by not only hiring employees but also buying out other companies.
By virtue of this rapid growth, the existing IT Infrastructure, processes and response time has to be improved in order to provide a high level of IT support not only at the home office, but at the other locations as well.Discussion of Business Problem(s)All users at ABC Corporation have local Administrator rights on their machines and each office has their own File Server, Email Server, and operates in their own Domain or Workgroup. Each office has local “super users” who can act as their local IT support technician.
ABC Corporation’s IT department is located in the home office; Columbia SC. They currently use a Microsoft Access database that’s shared on the home office’s server to track internal Helpdesk requests. The impact of the current state of operations is broad.
•The systems are not integrated so each office is responsible for maintaining the IT equipment and data. •Computers are vulnerable due to users having full administrator rights on their machines leaving them more open to virus attacks. •The “super users” are taken away from their billable work whenever they have to perform “overhead” type tasks such as IT support. •The IT department currently does not have a robust system in place for Helpdesk ticket tracking, reporting, knowledge-sharing.
•The IT department currently cannot respond to business critical IT problems at the other locations since they are located in Columbia, SC. There are no other tools for remote support and no warranty on IT equipment. The business problem to be solved is how to implement IT technologies to integrate the IT systems, increase IT security, and improve IT processes in order to have a more cohesive system of operations and provide a higher level of IT support across the firm while staying within budget and possibly even reducing IT costs.
High Level SolutionThrough the use of subject matter experts (SMEs), determine if migrating all offices into one Active Directory Domain, hiring regional IT staff to help support the remote and international offices, removing local administrator rights, introducing tools such as Helpdesk management software, internal instant messaging, creating a means for internal IT support knowledge sharing, and providing tools for tracking support requests remotely or after normal business hours will help create a cohesive IT infrastructure and improve response time and level of support. Benefits of Solving the ProblemBy investing in a more robust and cohesive IT infrastructure, managing the IT operations will be more streamlined and the IT support staff’s level of support and response time will increase. The quicker an end user receives support, the sooner they can return to being productive. Several benefits of solving the problem are:•Increased IT SecurityoOperating in one Active Directory Domain will allow the IT department to push software and security updates to all workstations in the domain. oVirus infections are less-likely to happen since users are not logged in as administrators with full access to system files. oUsers will need to be granted administrator rights for software installs. This will prevent them from installing virus-infected software. •Increased operational improvementoThe local “super user” acting as the local IT contact can go back to focusing on their work and stay billable rather than doing overhead, IT-related tasks.
oRemoving local administrator rights will increase IT security and help the company stay compliant with software licensing agreements since that will prevent users from installing software that’s for non-commercial use only or installing the same license on multiple computers. •Increased IT support responsivenessoHiring IT staff to support local offices in their region.oIn-warranty workstations will receive next-business day hardware support. oHelpdesk is open from 8a-8p to provide support to all time zones. International offices are supported by the staff in Europe and Asia. oTools will be in place for remote desktop sharing and control and management. oKnowledge-sharing between IT staff using web-based “wiki-like” website. oFAQ/Knowledgebase website for common problems and solutions for self-help option.
Business/Technical ApproachDetermine if investing in a more robust and cohesive IT infrastructure will allow the company to achieve the aforementioned goals.Through the use of subject matter experts (SMEs), determine the scope of work it will take to move all offices into one Active Directory Domain, if there are users who will need to retain their local administrator rights due to work requirements, which tools to use for Helpdesk ticket management and reporting, and which tools to use for remote support. Business Process ChangesOffices will now be under one Active Directory Domain including File Servers. Local Email servers will be removed. The Email server will be housed at Columbia, SC. End users will be instructed to reach the IT Support staff directly via email or phone to get support if needed. The former “local super user” will have the same Power User rights as the other users.
The Helpdesk is the first-line of IT support. Tickets are escalated to the next level of support or to other IT units who are best able to handle the issue. Regional IT staff are designated several offices to travel to for faster response time if on-site IT support is required. Workstations and Servers will be under warranty. Workstations will receive next-business day hardware support while Servers will have 4-hour support. The Helpdesk’s business hours will be 8a-8p ET in order to support ET, CT, MT, and PT time zones. IT staff in India will support the International offices.
Technology or Business Practices Used to Augment the SolutionThe following are the systems ABC will be implementing:1.Domain migration – all offices will be migrated to abc_corp domain. Userswill have a username and password for logging in to the domain. The email server will be housed in the Columbia, SC office. The Microsoft Outlook client on each workstation will be configured to connect to the Microsoft Exchange server in Columbia, SC. The infrastructure will be upgraded to accommodate remote offices accessing the Exchange server for their email. Single-sign on will be utilized so that the user will only have to login to their workstation once.
They will have access to all local and network resources. 2.SCCM (Software Configuration and Change Management) – for packaging and installing software and updates. A “Shopping” website will be created for ordering software. Pre-packaged software will have all of the licensing info and administrative rights required integrated into the install. Software that is not available in Shopping need to go through the “Unlisted App Request.
” The IT Procurement group will need to research the software for cost and licensing. All software requests will need to go through Shopping. All software requests will need to be approved by IT Procurement and the Discipline Leader in charge of the software.
3.Remote administration softwarea.Intel vPro – remote access to the workstation (including monitoring, maintenance, and management) independent of the state of the operating system (OS) or power state of the PC, and security features. b.
Windows Remote Desktop – allows a personal computer’s desktop environment to be run remotely on one system while being displayed on a separate client device. c.Windows Remote Assistance – allows a user to temporarily control a remote Windows computer over a network or the Internet to resolve issues without directly touching the unit. It is based on the Remote Desktop Protocol. d.Microsoft Lync (formerly Microsoft Office Communicator) – instant messaging with the added feature of sharing desktop and sharing control.
4.Numara Track-It! Help Desk software – a complete, integrated solution that includes inventory and asset management, incident ; problem management, purchase management, training and library management, knowledge management, self-service, password reset, change management, facilities management, software license management, mobile help desk access, dashboards, and reporting and tools to manage Service Level Agreements more effectively. 5.Microsoft SharePoint – web application platform for internal knowledgesharing and FAQ for users for common problems and solutions. Conclusions and Overall RecommendationsABC uses mostly Microsoft-based technologies for their workstations and servers. It is recommended to continue using these technologies to implement the IT Infrastructure changes to minimize the need for more training and to easily integrate with the existing systems.
Operating under one Active Directory Domain will allow for easier administration and easier access to company resources. These resources can be accessed either at the user’s local office, at another office as long as they are part of ABC’s WAN, or remotely via the use of VPN (Virtual Private Network) technology. The Helpdesk staff will be answering phone calls and either resolving issues or escalating to the proper IT group within 15 minutes. They will be open from 8a-8p to support business hours for offices in the Eastern, Central, Mountain, and Pacific Time zones. The IT staff in the India office will support the International offices. The regional IT staff needs to be hired to help with support. They will travel to offices when on-site IT support is required.
Otherwise, most Helpdesk tickets will be resolved remotely using the various remote administration tools available. Email sent to the Helpdesk will automatically open a Helpdesk ticket via the Track-It! Software. Service Level Agreements and Escalation procedures will be in place to ensure that tickets are resolved in a timely manner. High-level implementation PlanIn order for ABC to successfully implement a more cohesive IT Infrastructure and to provide an increased level of support, they will need to consider the following details: Changes to Technology:As ABC converts into one Active Directory Domain they would decommission the obsolete and out of warranty workstations and servers.
It is recommended to select a vendor for recycling these obsolete IT inventory. Since user’s email will be housed in a Microsoft Exchange server rather than individual PST files, their mailboxes are backed up since the Microsoft Exchange server is backed up daily. Their mailboxes are accessible either via the Microsoft Outlook client on their workstations or remotely via the Microsoft OutlookWebaccess. Users will require IT help when installing software. The SCCM technology will ease software installation since requested software will be delivered via Run Advertised Programs. SCCM will also push security updates on all workstations that are connected to the domain. All workstations in the domain will also have Group Policies applied to increase IT security and functionality. Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance was also being employed by the IT staff.
Lync will also provide remote capabilities similar to Remote Assistance but will have the added functionality of instant messaging. Changes to Personnel:The local “super user” will no longer be utilized as the local IT technician. They can still be valuable resources by server as the IT contact for their office. IT staff can work with these IT contacts for hands-on help such as swapping out backup tapes. The Helpdesk staff at Columbia, SC will stagger their schedules to cover the 8a-8p ET schedule. Regional IT staff and IT staff in India will be hired.There will be requirement to train users on the new Domain structure and proper logging in to their workstations.
They will be required to contact the Helpdesk via phone or email. Email is encouraged for non-emergency issues since it will automatically open a Helpdesk ticket for them. There will also be a Helpdesk FAQ/Knowledgebase website for self-help.
There will also be a requirement to train staff on the new Domain structure. They will be trained on the new remote administration tools and encouraged to share internal IT knowledge on the IT staff “wiki” website. Summary of ProjectCustomer relationships tend to suffer as the IT changes are implemented. Implementing these changes must not take away from the end result which is a more cohesive IT infrastructure and the provision of better customer service. By investing in a more robust and cohesive IT infrastructure, managing the IT operations will be more streamlined and the IT support staff’s level of support and response time will increase.
The quicker an end user receives support, the sooner they can return to being productive.Increased IT security, increased operational improvement, and increased IT support responsiveness are several benefits that can be experienced by implementing the above mentioned IT technologies and processes. To reiterate, below are several benefits to applying these technologies: •Increased IT SecurityoOperating in one Active Directory Domain will allow the IT department to push software and security updates to all workstations in the domain. oVirus infections are less-likely to happen since users are not logged in as administrators with full access to system files.
oUsers will need to be granted administrator rights for software installs. This will prevent them from installing virus-infected software. •Increased operational improvementoThe local “super user” acting as the local IT contact can go back to focusing on their work and stay billable rather than doing overhead, IT-related tasks. oRemoving local administrator rights will increase IT security and help the company stay compliant with software licensing agreements since that will prevent users from installing software that’s for non-commercial use only or installing the same license on multiple computers. •Increased IT support responsivenessoHiring IT staff to support local offices in their region.
oIn-warranty workstations will receive next-business day hardware support. oHelpdesk is open from 8a-8p to provide support to all time zones. International offices are supported by the staff in Europe and Asia. oTools will be in place for remote desktop sharing and control and management.
oKnowledge-sharing between IT staff using web-based “wiki-like” website. oFAQ/Knowledgebase website for common problems and solutions for self-help option.ReferencesArcal, J. G. (Ed.
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