Survey: Managers crave automated management tools

A recent survey by Uplogix found 70% of IT executives want automated control over fault diagnosis and recovery tools.

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Managing large distributed networks has become more of a chore for IT executives, according to a recent survey by Uplogix.

The survey, which polled 300 IT and network managers who run massive remote networks, found that more than 70% of respondents are looking for automated control over fault diagnosis and recovery tools.

"People really have a need for better automation of day-to-day management," said Bill Talbot, marketing director for Austin, Texas-based Uplogix Inc., a vendor of appliances for distributed networks.

The phone survey, which was conducted for Uplogix by Austin, Texas, research firm ReachForce, focused on companies with $500 million or more in annual revenue from several verticals, including financial services, utilities, retail, manufacturing and healthcare. All respondents were IT executives with network, telecom or LAN/WAN responsibilities. On average, Talbot said, respondents were from companies with more than 100 distributed offices. About 25% of respondents said they have more than 500 remote locations. The survey also found that around 85% of workers are not stationed at a company's headquarters.

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According to the survey, only 7% of respondents said they didn't need or wouldn't consider network automation tools. More than 60% said they needed automated tools to manage their networks for remote network access, as well as for network configuration, routine network maintenance, fault diagnosis and disaster recovery. More than 35% said they needed automation in all of those areas. The two areas where respondents cited the greatest need for an improved level of automation were remote fault diagnosis -- 72% -- and recovery -- 69%.

"These networks are becoming more distributed and more diverse," Talbot said. "The cost of trying to support these remote locations is increasing all the time. It's become a bear of a job for IT folks always looking for tools to minimize cost and time."

Elsewhere, the survey found that 60% of companies have either implemented or are planning an out-of-band approach to improve management of distributed network locations.

Dennis Drogseth, vice president of Boulder, Colo.-based research firm Enterprise Management Associates, recommended companies should look to out-of-band options to avoid having the entire network fail in the event of a power outage.

"More businesses should investigate the benefits of out-of-band management," Drogseth said. "The technology can provide better control over remote devices and reduce remote support costs for branch office networks that are becoming increasingly more complex and more demanding to support."

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