Regardless of the context, most IT managers have had a conversation regarding the pros and cons of being proactive or reactive. Nine times out of ten, the chosen strategic path is proactive, so much so that it has become an industry buzzword. Essentially, it’s become synonymous with an organizations ability to succeed in their endeavors. However, the reality is that proactivity and reactivity are just the opposite sides of the same coin. In order to be successful, organizations need to employ tools and process that are both proactive and reactive. Since we covered “reactive” tools in the previous installment, today we will walk through proactive tools.
What Does Being Proactive Mean?
The metric that is most commonly used as a measuring point for proactivity is the end user. If a process is put into place to address something that has been made apparent via feedback from an end user, it is reactive. On the other hand, if a process is in place with the intent to identify and solve problems before they reach the end user, it is proactive. Ultimately, the fewer problems presented to the end user, the higher quality your product or service will be. This metric can be universally applied to all aspects of your environment. But what does this mean for the IT Manager? There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account when proactively managing an environment but two of the most important factors are security and functionality.
In today’s day and age, organizations cannot afford to be lax when it comes to security. The news is rampant with companies that have looked the other way for too long, becoming the victims of serious breaches. Obviously, no one wants to be the next Equifax, but what exactly can be done to prevent it? There are a variety of tools that can be leveraged to keep your environment secure.
Antivirus software is key to any organization’s security. You can protect and lock down your network all you want, but if one of your end users gets infected and brings their machine onto your network, it is all for nothing. There are a wide variety of solutions out there, but some of the best include:
- Carbon Black - To say that Carbon Black is just an antivirus tool would be inaccurate and an understatement. They offer a wide variety of security solutions which can help your organization stay secure. Learn more about it here.
- Webroot - Webroot has been in the market for a long time. In the past couple of years, however, they have made a huge push to modernize their product, the result of which is quite competitive in the antivirus market. Get up to speed here.
- Norton - Norton has always been a staple in the antivirus market and is never a bad option. Check it out here.
Intrusion Prevention Systems
Many organizations will also employ Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) to further protect their environment. While antiviruses focus on securing workstations, IPSs serve the purpose of proactively protecting your environment from threats. They monitor your network for malicious activity and react to it accordingly. With the emergence of cloud and machine learning technology, IPS solutions have leveled up in recent years and are capable of some impressive feats. Some examples include:
- AlienVault - Recently acquired by AT&T, AlienVault has been making waves for a few years now offering a variety of solutions supporting cloud, on-premise, and hybrid environments. Dive into their products here.
- Cisco NGIPS - Cisco is synonymous with networking technology and has always been a trusted name. Naturally, they also have an IPS solution targeted towards enterprises. Read more about it here.
Keeping tabs on the functionality of your environment is paramount to the success of your organization. Unfortunately, this requires having a pulse on a variety of different data points. There are so many different elements to consider that it is borderline impossible to have the level of insight necessary without the use of various third party tools to help collate all of the information. Once the information is collated, the challenge is presenting the data in a format that is easily digestible. The tools listed below help you do just that:
- Splunk - Splunk is a tool that has been around since the early 2000s. It was created with the intent of simplifying the digestion of machine-generated log data. Any system admin will tell you there is a plethora of valuable information in those logs, but the challenge has always been collating that information across an enterprise. Splunk gives you powerful tools to do just that. Check out Splunk by clicking here.
- SCOM - System Center Operations Manager is a data center monitoring system supporting Windows and Unix based hosts. Learn more about SCOM here.
- Grafana - Grafana looks to specifically address the problem of metrics ingestion. It is great to have all the data available at your fingertips, but if you cannot present it in a way that is easy to understand it becomes difficult to communicate information to less technical resources in your organization. Check it out here.
I want to emphasize that this series is not intended to be an all-inclusive guide to managing an IT environment. Think of this series as a conversation starter. The most important thing to grasp from the series is to do research to make sure that the areas covered are treated as first-class citizens in your environment. The next post, and last, will focus on the importance of endpoint management and the tools available to help facilitate the needs of your organization.
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