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When corporate finances get tight, IT executives must seek ways to provide improved efficiency and more effective service delivery with their existing resources. Given the current economic climate, it is becoming increasingly important for organizations to stretch IT resources as much as possible, without compromising the quality of their services. Rapid changes to the employee base -- including layoffs and the frequent use of contract employees and consultants -- is placing a growing burden on IT, particularly when it comes to enterprise security. Reports of unauthorized users gaining access to corporate assets are on the rise, which can cause significant problems within the organization and lead to unplanned downtime.

Taking a proactive approach to enterprise security, including minimizing or eliminating manual processes, automating and delegating policy management and delivery, and simplifying and improving control over Active Directory, are just a few of the way that organizations can maximize the effectiveness of their current IT resources. Formalizing the process of not only provisioning an organization's user accounts and access privileges but, more importantly, de-provisioning users across all the applications they have access to when their status in a company changes is crucial to maintaining control and security. Producing reports after the fact is simply not enough to get the job done.

Common pitfalls

Research shows that IT administrators spend at least forty percent of their time on basic configuration tasks, such as provisioning and de-provisioning employees, resetting passwords and managing distribution lists. Despite their routine nature, these tasks pose significant operational, security and compliance issues because there is often no audit trail. While tasks that require root access are usually performed by senior administrators to help minimize risk, they consume valuable and limited IT resources and take the focus away from the strategic initiatives they were hired to perform.

When it comes to security, many enterprises too often take a reactive approach, by implementing solutions that act more as an alarm system rather than as a security guard. The problem with this "alarm system" approach is that any changes made to an organization's IT infrastructure may be monitored and traced, but senior administrators are only notified after those changes have been made. In other words, configuration mistakes get reported, but not prevented.


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