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User Empowerment tool - automated self-service system administration and support application

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000199711D
Publication Date: 2010-Sep-15

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

This article is about an automated self-service system administration and support application named User Empowerment Tool (UET). The UET is a Java Enterprise Edition application and related software that allows technical support staff as well as nontechnical staff such as project managers or other end users to perform administrative functions on various components of their enterprise hosting center. The UET provides a frame work that can be extended easily; the components that can be managed using UET includes Application Servers like WebSphere, Web Servers like Apache http server and other products. New functions can be added easily by configuration or in some cases by extending the application code. This tool is targeted for hosting centers with a large number of servers and administrators. Also this tool is especially suitable for centralized development and test hosting centers where self service administration by developers and testers are desirable. With the proper access control configurations, it can also be used in staging or production environments. The end users access the tool using any standard web browser and the functions available to them are determined by access control settings based on groups of users, and type of components and operations the groups are allowed access. As the tool is very user friendly, it can be used by users who otherwise would not have the technical knowledge to administer such servers and systems. The tool also automates many of the activities like keeping record of the user requests and the record of actual outcome. The tool keeps audit logs and also gives facility to retrieve reports of the user activities. The article describes the architecture and technical details of this application.

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User Empowerment tool - automated self-service system administration and support application

Disclosed is a process for providing a capability of a user empowerment tool (UET) for automated self-service system administration and support. The UET is a Java® Enterprise Edition1 application and related software that allows technical support staff as well as non-technical staff including project managers or other end users to perform administrative functions on various components of a respective enterprise hosting center.

The disclosed process provides an easily extended framework incorporating typically available components managed using the disclosed process including application servers and web servers.

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 ew functions can typically be added easily by configuration or extending the application code. Embodiments of the disclosed process are targeted for hosting centers with a large number of servers and administrators. The disclosed process is especially suitable for centralized development and test hosting centers where self-service administration by developers and testers is desirable. With proper access control configurations, embodiments of the disclosed process can also be used in staging or production environments. End users access embodiments of the disclosed process, typically in the form of a tool, using a standard web browser in which functions available to the end users are determined by access control settings based on groups of users, type of components and operations the groups are allowed access. Because the tool is user friendly, users typically not having technical knowledge to administer servers and systems can use the tool. The tool of the disclosed process also automates activities including record keeping of user requests and the actual outcome of a request. The tool of the disclosed process maintains audit logs and enables retrieval of reports of user activities.

Typically a large portion of the cost of a large hosting environment is the cost of skilled technical support staff. A typical change management process involves submission of an end user a change request "ticket", assignment of the ticket to an appropriate support person by a scheduler, selecting the ticket by a support person from a work queue, completion of the work item, update status of the ticket and inform the end users. Automating many of the described steps and providing a self-service style systems management application typically provides savings. In addition security of the systems and servers cannot be compromised, therefore a systems management application needs fine grained access control to components, audit logs and function to retrieve the activity reports.

Managed components in a modern hosting center typically include an operating system, an application server for application hosting, web servers, a storage service which may be a local or remote storage implementation and back-end systems including relational database servers and m...