IT Automation at Ignite
This year at Microsoft Ignite, we spoke with a lot of attendees looking for solutions to their everyday automation needs. As expected, with the global push toward cloud computing, cloud provisioning via workload automation tended to be something that IT professionals wanted to discuss, especially in the area of in-house virtual system provisioning. From our conversations, it often wound up as “something we are looking to do in the future”.
However, by the end of the event, it had become increasingly apparent that a large number of IT professionals were looking for a way to overcome the obstacle which every organization faces: Onboarding. By itself, onboarding only makes up a fraction of the automation market, but we found it to be one of the most popular items with Ignite attendees.
Onboarding is one of the classic examples of difficulties faced when technology meets non-technical oriented positions in an organization. On the one hand you have a Human Resources department, not always very technical and usually at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to configuring a workstation or provisioning virtual space for a new hire. On the other hand, you have an Information Technology team, huddled in a room stacked high with the skeletons of workstations, hard drives and wires, at the ready for any individual in the organization who reports a bad switch or a workstation that will not boot.
Another common step along the way is the security or administrative team, which handles the activation or deactivation of accounts for every employee that enters or leaves an organization. Add to that the potential amount of temporary employees or consultants which require a space for a few days to a month at a time and then never set foot inside the network again; certainly a daunting task considering it is one which tends to be only a small portion of the job requirement for any given position.
“How do we fix it?” is a question that can be asked by not just IT professionals but by any level or position within an organization. How can Human Resources submit a request for a new hire and not only make sure that each person in the chain gets the request, but that it is performed in a timely manner? The solution is IT automation.
The solution exists, now it is just about spreading the word. There is no valid reason that most, if not all, onboarding processes cannot be automated, even if it takes a few extra approval steps to complete such a process. It’s the difference between approving an electronically compiled form and relying on three or more different departments with various other responsibilities and time commitments to manually perform each individual task involved in the process.
Using IT automation software, organizations can automate adding/deleting/modifying attributes associated with various objects/users, handle change requests such as resetting user passwords, associate members to distribution groups, and more. For example, when an employee is promoted, IT can create a workflow that would automate the process of promoting that user account, adding the user to the appropriate new groups, modifying security settings, and more.
Moreover, automation’s built-in integrations for Active Directory and Exchange Server allows users to automate repetitive and routine onboarding tasks without the need for scripting, thereby saving time for IT Operations to tackle bigger projects and reducing the likelihood of manual errors. Longtime customer SThree, a global recruiting firm headquartered in London, shared with us how they are automating onboarding processes with built-in Active Directory and Exchange Job Steps in a recent case study.
Onboarding has been around for generations, but now with the latest technology available, it is time to tackle it with an efficient solution that will give back the time that for many years has been taken out of organizations’ hands.