Oct 11, 2018
It's Time to Modernize IT Operations. Business Resilience Depends on It.By Tim Mintner
New challenges. Same expectations.
The IT landscape has changed significantly over the past 15 years. I’ve seen it first hand in my current role at Tanium and while working in various IT operations roles in the past. The number of endpoint devices and virtual systems that IT manages has grown exponentially. Employees have transitioned from working in a traditional, on-premise office environment to one that is increasingly mobile. Servers have also transitioned from physical and virtual instances in data centers to cloud-based providers.
Despite significant increases in complexity for operations teams, the business expectations haven’t changed. IT has to be able to deliver software, install security patches, report on compliance, detect systems on their network and report the state of the environment to stakeholders in ever decreasing timeframes over increasing scale. The business still expects the same resilience and support as ever – and maybe even more given the increased dependence on technology to do just about everything.
Broken management tools create fragility
Unfortunately, traditional management solutions like System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), Bigfix and others have not evolved. Operations teams attempt to scale by throwing more resources at the gaps created by traditional tools including more servers, new point solutions or new overlay technologies that depend on the broken underlying platform in order to function. Despite dozens of overlapping solutions and in many cases, hundreds of servers, teams still struggle to meet business demands. Even basic information about endpoints and their current state is either fragmented across multiple point solutions, out-of-date or more often than not, both.
To illustrate this point, one customer recently reported 97% of systems had all required Microsoft patches installed using one very popular systems management tool. Sounds good, right? A second legacy tool reported 94% compliance. Not a huge discrepancy. With Tanium we were able to show the reality: only 2% of systems were up-to-date due to four missing security patches. These missing patches were completely unaccounted for with the legacy tools. You can imagine the false sense of security and inefficiency that resulted in these failings.
In addition to problems with the basics, we see traditional management tools often fail in situations that involve complex networks. At another recent customer, after years of acquisitions, they had multiple networks, in numerous AD forests, with various antivirus and encryption technologies. When some specific end users complained about slow performance, we were asked to investigate. We quickly found over 1,200 systems reporting to a decommissioned antivirus central server. Another couple thousand had several antivirus products doing constant battle over system resources. Encryption for hundreds was implemented with a decommissioned product with no decryption keys backed up. Beyond that, this investigation led to identifying workstation images used by one division but intended for lab use only.
It’s time for a change.
Enter Tanium Operations Suite
Tanium is a single solution that provides real-time information and management for security and operations. With a minimal centralized infrastructure, Tanium provides cross-platform visibility and control over all of your on-premise, remote and cloud-based systems from a single console. With the Tanium Operations Suite, Tanium can more than replace failing traditional management tools. Tanium truly transforms IT operations practices. This is more than marketing speak. I’ve seen this first-hand. It’s a game changer when teams stop reporting and acting on data that is days, weeks, or months old to instead reporting and acting on information that was gathered in a few seconds.
Tanium has another benefit in unifying operations and security teams around the same data. The fragmentation created by the 20+ security and operations tools that are impossible to integrate has fundamentally broken many organizations. Business Resilience is the practice to unify the teams to adapt to disruption. Having common data and a platform that supports a range of security and operations needs is critical to reducing the frequency, severity and impact of disruption.
The Tanium Operations Suite is designed to solve the following challenges:
- Find all of the devices in the environment
- Provide complete inventory and asset information
- Reliably patch endpoints to reduce vulnerability to security threats
- Deliver software to endpoints at unprecedented speed
- Monitor and trend key metrics over time
- Integrate with additional reporting, service management and data stores
For each of these items, it is critical to be able to access the most up-to-date information and deliver results quickly to your stakeholders whether that be through reports, security patches, or business critical software.
In this series of blog posts, I will dive step-by-step into the operations lifecycle and show you how legacy tools are holding back your organization and how the Tanium Operations Suite transforms the way you work. At each step, we’ll also discuss what this all means for the business regarding resilience, efficiency and security. Stay tuned.
About the Author: Tim Mintner, Senior Director of Technical Account Management.Over the past 20+ years, Tim has worked in IT Operations with organizations ranging in size from a few hundred to several hundred thousand computers. Tim has had roles as both a developer and an implementation consultant and has spoken at Microsoft conferences in the US and Europe on Operating System Deployment and IT Management.