As we all know, information technology is a vast field with many different facets. Staying abreast of all pertinent information and prioritizing all aspects appropriately is a tall order. Often, enterprises and SMBs find that certain tasks are better handled by an outside entity that specializes in specific aspects of tech and has the tools available to quickly and accurately diagnose and solve problems.
Even if a company has an IT specialist, that person is sometimes so busy handling day-to-day needs that broader issues, such as network maintenance and security, cannot be given the focus they deserve. Hosting companies often provide various managed services to fit these situations.
Operating systems management, aka managed OS, is one such service. OS management allows an organization to stay current on patches, upgrades, and other elements of the OS, while keeping its own in-house IT professionals free to handle tasks specific to the operation of the business. Below are several of the standard activities involved in business OS management.
Patch management is a core component of systems management. It involves locating or creating the best possible code – which is then used as a patch for a specific part of the site – to generally increase usability and efficiency. A particularly crucial part of patch management is the testing phase, but it’s just as important to monitor the site following the patch to determine if it is working completely as intended (an aspect of configuration management, as described below).
A couple of other core concerns are involved with patch management as well. One is continuing education: an administrator should be an expert on all patches and elements of code throughout the system. The reason that expertise is necessary is to prevent any patches – a new one and one applied months ago – from conflicting.
Needless to say, patch management also involves careful installation. If the code is placed at the wrong point in the string, severe headaches, and lost business can result. A skilled patch manager is extraordinarily conscientious about placing the patch in the precise location as was used when conducting tests.
Configuration management, broadly speaking, refers to the deployment and maintenance of software or hardware so that everything functions cohesively and uniformly throughout the infrastructure. The hardware and software applications of the term involve different practices but are identical in theory. Each aims for an organized and coherent setup of all elements of a computing system.
Configuration management for a business’s OS means that when changes occur, monitoring must follow. All aspects of configuration should be stored and easily accessible in a repository, with an individual or team who have a full understanding of its contents.
Examples of changes to configuration include the following:
- Deployment of patches
- Application installation
- New users or changes to user accounts/permissions
- Any maintenance elements.
Proper monitoring of systems configuration involves automated applications that present any adjustments as they occur. The repository mentioned above allows the manager to see any adjustments that have occurred, over time, to various elements of the system.
Proactive monitoring is again a broad IT term, with specific concerns for each subfield of computing. It is the responsibility of the engineers performing the monitoring to locate and fix any possible issues at all hours of the day or night. Proactive monitoring ensures that the system is operating smoothly, efficiently, and without any errors. Using applications that track data on the network, an individual proactively monitoring a system both reduces risk and develops insight into the performance that can be used to further bolster the infrastructure.
Essentially, proactive monitoring is a form of surveillance across the entire operating system that – true to its name – solves problems before they have time to develop. It enables businesses to stay a step ahead of risk and protects sensitive data from corruption.
Infrastructure lifecycle management
In business as in life, everything has a lifecycle. The goal of infrastructure lifecycle management, when managing the OS for your business, is to make sure that all aspects of the infrastructure are both in line with the goals of the business and allow appropriate degrees of protection. Management of the infrastructure’s lifecycle – both with regards to its pieces and its entirety – is primarily a function of monitoring, much like the other managed services described above.
Proper infrastructure lifecycle management is not just about getting rid of old machines and buying new ones. Optimization of the infrastructure and the security of all data it contains are core aspects of lifecycle management as well. If you need to destroy data that is no longer of use, and you do not want it to get into the wrong hands, engineers handling lifecycle management can also be of help.
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