Another post from Marcelo Andrieu, Product Manager for ActivEcho. This one covers some of the discussions he is having with our customers – Anders

Every quarter we spend a whole day working out what will come in the next 2 or 3 releases of our products. With our recent introduction of activEcho in March, I am busier than ever talking to our customers to see what they are doing, what’s important and what’s not. They manage to get me down to Earth pretty quickly. It’s never boring. We talk mostly about features, use cases, security, performance, storage, deployment, trends. All very interesting things.

One theme that came up consistently in this round of discussions can be paraphrased like this: “so, if you had to rank what makes your IT life difficult, what would that be?” And the answers came back like this:

• Unexpected service disruptions
• Security policy changes
• User account management for applications and services.
• Client software updates

The one that really captured my curiosity was #3, user account management. Here’s what I see in the organizations I talk to:

The companies I talk to have a wide range of users; anywhere from 500 to 10,000 users. Some of those people work in teams, sometimes they interact with customers, vendors, partners and other outside constituents. They need to exchange document – big and small. Many try to send those documents using email. That can cause problems for IT. Storage, size restrictions and security are obvious issues. Then they try to provide other means: SharePoint, FTP servers, DropBox and others. But here’s the problem. More often than not, somebody has to take care of creating accounts, logins, assign storage, for internal and external users. Then, somebody has to “remember” to delete or disable those accounts that are not needed anymore. Simply put, you need a consistent, repeatable user deployment and management capability.

“How bad is it?” I would ask. The answer comes back something like this: “well, we’ll receive a request, it would take us a day or 2 to provision an account, then we try to keep track when that account is supposed to expire. There are other housekeeping task like protecting and deleting legacy documents, resetting passwords. In general somebody will spend about 2 hours a week taking care of all this.”
Waiting for “a day or 2 to provision the account” sounds pretty bad to me considering the crazy speed business is conducted at in the 21st century.

Think about it this way:

2 hours/week = 8 hours/month = 96 hours/ year. Hmmm… that’s more than 2 full weeks worth of work. I am sure companies could use that time for more strategic projects given a skilled IT person’s time and cost.

activEcho can help address this. activEcho can automate account provisioning and management by using Active Directory (AD) for internal users. For external users, activEcho provides policies and automation so users don’t need to request accounts every single time. IT sets and maintains the policies. Everything else just happens. That’s good for IT and makes life simple for happy and productive users.