David Wood,Senior Manager: Manufacturing Systems, Sappi Southern Africa

”RDB Consulting have been supporting Sappi Southern Africa’s Manufacturing System databases since 1999. During this time I have had the pleasure of witnessing RDB Consulting amazing growth to an more

ITWeb : Harnessing the benefits of IT remote support and monitoring

Opinion piece: Harnessing the benefits of IT remote support and monitoring
3 November 2011

There is a shift that is driving companies and employees to work remotely; enhancing productivity by unshackling the restrictions that working from a fixed office imposes.  It frees employees up from traffic and most importantly, allows for work to be done ‘on the fly’. This is no different when it comes to IT support.  Businesses are not only realising the benefit of outsourcing their IT support, but they are also able to leverage the additional benefits of remote support and monitoring that is gaining traction in the South African market.

There are three types of remote support: in-house support sees the company’s head office provide remote support and monitoring to its branches; the fully outsourced model lets a third-party handle support and monitoring from its premises; and the co-sourced model puts in place a centre of excellence that is co-built by the client and the outsourced service provider. All models have their benefits but the latter two deliver significantly more.

Time and travel = money & emissions

One of the most obvious benefits of remote IT support is that it reduces travel costs and travel time. It takes time and costs money for the support resource to get to the client when a call out is logged. With remote support in place, however, the exercise is simplified. The system is monitored and analysed remotely and the problem is fixed immediately. Thus, traffic and distance between the outsource provider and the client is no longer an issue. In addition, and this is not an afterthought for most companies any more, remote support and monitoring allows companies to decrease their carbon footprint and lessens their impact on the environment. It also provides a far speedier response and resolution for companies that have branches in outlying areas or even different countries.

Compliance to standards

Standards and best practices have become the norm in today’s digital world.

However, enforcing them is no easy task. It’s particularly tricky when clients have remote branches and offices. Individual IT resources at these remote branches and offices further exacerbate this challenge as more often than not they create their own ‘rules’, thwarting the efforts of the business to retain consistency and remain compliant. Having remote support and monitoring allows businesses to create a ‘golden’ standard, one which is rolled out and adhered to by all remote sites and branches, thanks to centralised and remote control.

This benefit became evident for one of RDB Consulting’s large multinational manufacturing clients. With its head office based in the Western Cape and branches throughout the country as well as some parts of Africa, compliance became a top priority.  RDB Consulting’s remote support and monitoring service allowed the company to enforce security standards, use of standardised site documentation, processes and procedures, as well as drive compliance to the Service Level Agreement (SLA) which ultimately assisted them to meet compliance of a variety of Acts.

Time to resolution

Disasters are never planned. Downtime, especially in a database environment, impacts operations — and the longer the database or a critical application is down, the greater the impact on the bottom line. Resolving the problem quickly is therefore of the essence. Remote support and monitoring is a great enabler of speedy resolution. More importantly, because it’s proactive

in nature, it often prevents problems from occurring in the first place. Control the changes in your organisation Remote support and monitoring also effectively manages change control more efficiently. For example, creating printer rights on the corporate network can be handled remotely, ensuring user rights are applied according to policy.

Access to skills

Outsourcing support and maintenance of the IT infrastructure already delivers the benefit of access to skills and experience. Remote support and monitoring further enhances this as a team of highly skilled resources is monitoring the IT environment and the appropriate skills are at hand – immediately.

So what investment is required to set up remote support and monitoring? All that is needed is a dedicated server. However, as impetus grows with regard to adoption of various cloud computing models, a capital investment might not even be necessary as companies can leverage the benefits of a pay-as-you-use model. If you already have an outsource provider handling your IT support and maintenance, you may think you already have remote support. The answer is quite simply “no”.  Many outsource service providers only offer on-site support.

Although remote support and monitoring has many benefits, it is important to understand that this type of support complements on-site support. Without onsite-support, the outsource provider would never be able to forge the relationship that face-to-face interaction enables. In addition, onsite support allows the outsource service provider to gain a deeper understanding of the company culture whilst keeping a finger on the pulse of the business.

This allows the outsource provider to integrate seamlessly with the company, creating a better ‘fit’.

Therefore, in light of the above benefits of remote monitoring and support, businesses should look towards augmenting their onsite outsource contract with this type of service. The time to consider is now.

About RDB Consulting

Established in 1995, RDB Consulting is an outsourcing and consulting company that specialises in four areas: Relational databases, Operating Systems, Monitoring and Enterprise Resource Planning. The organisation also offers project management, solutions architecture, and on-going maintenance and support. Our services are designed to provide businesses access to expert technical resources, whether full time, part time, co-managed or via remote administration. This allows companies to focus on their ‘core’ business and leave their ICT issues to the experts.

For more information, contact:

Jennifer Mbesa

RDB Consulting

Tel: 011-8077663