Proactive vs. reactive service: Why self-healing automation is a game changer

03/01/20184 Minute Read

Proactive versus reactive service is the future of technology at almost every scale. The IoT and connected tech have opened doors for technology that’s low-maintenance in a good way. We’re entering an age where service-oriented devices are smart enough to detect maintenance needs and security risks. It’s called self-healing technology, and we’ve been waiting for it all our lives.

National power grids like S&C have the ability to self-heal, reducing outages and lost revenue for utility companies. Scientists are applying similar concepts to cars and aeroplanes to make travel safer than ever before. In the future, you might even own a self-healing phone screen made from a “stretchy material” that can fix cracks quickly, according to The Telegraph.

Proactive technology that is smart enough to maintain itself could be a massive game-changer for IT teams. Instead of putting out tech fires and fixing broken things, IT professionals could really dedicate time and energy toward improving the industry.

2001: A proactive and reactive service odyssey

Even your youngest IT coworker is almost certainly older than the idea of proactive, self-healing tech. The idea originated in 2001, earning the title autonomic computing, inspired by the human nervous system. Not long after, a few key attributes of proactive versus reactive tech were identified, including:

  1. Self-configuration when the environment changes
  2. Self-healing in response to errors
  3. Self-optimisation, or smart allocation of resources for the best performance
  4. Self-protection, or the ability to identify and protect against attacks

Back in 2003, HP launched “Self-healing Software Services for Openview.” The initial vision was that someday technology would manage itself instead of relying on “armies” of people to keep it up and running. While autonomic tech is evolving quickly, the principle remains the same—software and office machines will require minimal human intervention to work just great.

Autonomic printing: The definition of “work smarter”

Whether you realise it or not, your current office printers are endpoints on your network. Unlike many employee laptops and mobile devices, they’re not necessarily treated like potential points of entry for cyber criminals. Today’s printers have many of the same components as computers and servers, including memory, operating systems, and hard drives. Organisations that fail to protect their data or update their printers’ operating systems could be easy targets for hackers.

Print technology has improved significantly over the past decade, but IT teams are still managing printers in the same, outdated way. This could be attributed to giant leaps forward in printer sophistication. MafiaBoy, aka Michael Calce, states that in his current work as a security consultant specialising in penetration testing, he’s met many IT teams that “had no idea the printer was essentially a gaping hole” in their security system.

That said, does any IT team really need more highly complicated devices with hundreds of functions to manually secure, update, and test for security? The answer: No. In an era of increased security risks and networks that get more complicated each quarter, the path of least resistance is resilient printers and automated maintenance.

Self-healing technology for all

When proactive versus reactive technology reaches peak maturity, your IT department might look a bit different. Self-healing, protecting, and configuring technology could allow humans and machines to peacefully coexist with less downtime and expensive outages. Despite the fact that autonomic office machines are at the cutting-edge of smart connected devices, they’re starting to become affordable for nearly everyone.

HP recently announced the launch of its A3 (11 x17) multifunction printers, which include key security features such as HP Surestart that inspects the BIOS at bootup and self heals; whitelisting, which allows the loading of only known, good firmware; and HP Run-time Intrusion Detection, which constantly runs in-device monitoring for malicious attacks. But they also represent some of the most efficient printers to date. The products are a result of design thinking and the knowledge that traditional MFPs have time-consuming, difficult repair and maintenance needs that weigh down IT departments. HP’s A3 MFPs, when sold under contract, come fully equipped with HP Smart Device Services to proactively and efficiently manage all the maintenance and repair issues that crop up.

What if your printer maintained itself and kept your private data secure? Autonomic office equipment, like the HP A3 MFPs, isn’t going to automate away IT jobs. Instead, it’s going to make IT departments a lot more secure, resulting in fewer interruptions to your business, which might just be the autonomy you’re looking for.

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