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'Waste Management' leads to self-healing

If computers are so smart, why can't they fix themselves? Every IT pro has asked that question at least once. Cadir Lee began obsessing about it back in 1997. Before "self healing" became an industry buzz phrase, Lee and his partner, Scott Dale, were pioneering the category, which has evolved into what we think of today as "support automation."

"You could say that we got into the waste-management business," Lee tells eADT. "We’re trying to cut down on all the work that is repetitive and unnecessary--the waste." Lee and Dale co-founded SupportSoft, a provider of support automation software, re-christened Real-Time Service Management (RTSM). SupportSoft's RTSM offerings are designed to ease enterprise technical support and provide for IT endpoint automation.

"We started out with a fairly simple vision," says Lee, who now serves as the Redwood City, CA-based company's vice president of engineering, "to take what was done manually and do it automatically."

That simple vision evolved in an increasingly complex IT environment, characterized by a veritable explosion of technologies deployed across an ever widening "enterprise" that reaches well beyond organizational walls. "Self-healing is about systems having enough knowledge about their correct running state, so that when they move into an incorrect state, they know how to fix things," Lee explains. "It’s kind of like antilock brakes; they know that there’s a certain threshold where they need to stop braking and start releasing and then braking. It’s the same idea. You have more knowledge built in so that you can shield yourself from situations that would be bad. It’s really trying to define the parameterization and the boundaries of the sandbox, so that when you leave, it gets you back on the right path."

Traditional IT organizational approaches to managing these shifting and converging infrastructure issues within discrete IT functions has proven to be inefficient, Lee says, not to mention time-consuming and expensive. IT organizations need to empower end-users to aid in problem resolution through controlled automation of typical break-fix tasks, he says. By more tightly integrating the management of the endpoint and the end-user, IT operations can gain better control of their infrastructures.

SupportSoft addresses these specific enterprise IT infrastructure management issues with its recently unveiled "X-Celerated Enterprise" initiative, which is designed to automatically bridge the IT operations gaps in endpoint management. The X-Celerated Enterprise comprises three new product suites: the Endpoint Automation Suite, which is designed to aid in eliminating problems through detection and repair of known fault conditions in real time, as well as software compliance and enhanced patch distribution; the Self-Service Suite, which enables end-users to find personalized answers to common technical problems; and the Intelligence Assistance Suite provides support staff with a host of tools for speeding resolution of end-user problems.

"Every large enterprise -- anyone who is supporting lots and lots of diverse endpoints across lots of geographies -- has basically the same issues," says Lee. "We see ourselves as filling that gap, cutting the times down to the same level as some of the ERP systems have done, making it real time for organizations."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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