iConclude Tackles Automating Problem Resolution

Problem identification is no longer sufficient—what's needed is the ability to diagnose and repair problems quickly before they seriously impact your customers or end users.

Problem identification is no longer sufficient—what IT needs is the ability to diagnose and repair problems quickly before they seriously impact customers or end users.

Last month, iConclude formally launched its suite aimed at making problem resolution more efficient. Called Repair System, the company says its approach gives front-line operations or support teams better tools for solving business-critical incidents quickly.

Targeted at IT shops that need to improve their problem triage and remediation process, Repair System consists of a set of software tools that helps IT diagnose and repair problems through a series of manual, guided steps or with automated data gathering and analysis tools. The system goes beyond problem identification, company CEO Sunny Gupta told Enterprise Strategies recently, by offering preconfigured templates called Repair Packs that address the complexities of applications built on J2EE, MQSeries, .NET, Unix, Linux, and Microsoft Server intrastuctures. Such "Packs" supply application expertise in the complex world of service oriented architectures.

Repair Packs come with hundreds of pre-configured resolution flows .IT can check server health, identify application connectivity and configuration issues, fix configuration settings, restart stalled servers, and validate settings. The J2EE Repair Pack can, for instance, check connectivity between Web, application, database servers, scan for bad configuration settings, check logs, and update the queue. The Windows Infrastructure Repair Pack can gather user information, such as username and password, IP address, e-mail address, and server information, or get user configuration information from the Active Directory, take bad servers off load balancers, and perform checks to ensure that domain and subdomain are configured correctly.

Besides identifying the root cause of a problem, iConclude's product family includes a module that lets an organization document a workflow to resolve problems—in essence, allowing you to create your own Repair Pack. That way, Gupta says, "the expertise in a tech expert's head doesn't disappear when he or she leaves a company." The graphical user interface (what the company calls its Drag-n-Wire authoring system) also means sophisticated programming tools aren't needed to build a set of custom resolution procedures It may also be a better approach than traditional solutions: static run book documentation or knowledge bases (which lack an audit trail and are often unchanged —often neglected—when the IT environment changes)

Automated remediation can also benefit current help-desk or technical staff—by performing tests, gathering information, or taking action (stopping and restarting a service, for example), Repair System can, Gupta notes, control (and even reduce) problem escalation. With more information at their fingertips, first-tier help-desk staff are more likely to solve the problem quickly, improving customer or end-user satisfaction. Even better, such frontline workers can use a guide to perform the problem analysis and resolution in a repeatable way.

What organization's don't need, however, is yet another standalone system to deal with, which is why the product can integrate with several other solutions, such as HP Open View, Microsoft's Operations Manager (MOM) 2005, a server performance and event monitor.

In our conversation, Gupta mentioned that his company's customers "need to deploy problem resolution software that significantly reduces support costs and time to repair." He also noted that in addition to reducing downtime and false alerts, lowering support costs, and allowing IT to support more applications than ever, his company's product helps front-line support to stop finger pointing. We trust Gupta means finger pointing at problems and not people—something not even this program can solve.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the former editorial director of Enterprise Strategies (esj.com).