Automation--It's Personal!

by Donna Horton, in Ask an ASE, posted 11/7/11
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The statistics for computer use throughout the world is phenomenal. A recent study indicates for every 100 people, 99 use computers. Today, computers are utilized for just about everything imaginable. With the vast majority of people worldwide relying heavily on computer desktops, laptops and servers, a technical problem can majorly impact the course of one’s day, week, month and most importantly, business. At Network Automation, we have created a Business Process Automation (BPA) Workflow to proactively assist in solving a computer and/or server problem by adding resolution automation management, system gathering and reporting for troubleshooting and speedy recovery.

The BPA Performance Triggers monitor resources on every computer and server component, such as the processor, memory, disk space, volume allocation, application processes and service components. The Performance Triggers generally use the same powerful and intelligent system performance, detection capabilities and gather the same comprehensive hardware and system information used by Windows Performance Monitor (perfmon.exe), whereas system performance is based mainly on performance counters. The performance is essentially measurements of system state and/or activity. The AutoMate BPA Performance Trigger launches a task when any system or process threshold is met on a local or remote computer with a steady TCP/IP connection.

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The sample workflow below was created to show exactly how to utilize the BPA software triggers and actions to monitor the physical memory and logical disk space.  The built in troubleshooting actions within the send notifications task are configured to first send a notification to the administrator and computer owner if the available memory and/or disk space is low. Next in the Get Sys Info task, BPA will gather the systems information, using the msinfo32.exe command and copy the report generated to another remote system for safety, the final corrective actions task attempts to correct the problematic component within the workflow to eliminate downtime.

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More details on the Memory Disk Space Monitoring Workflow…

Performance Triggers

The Memory Monitor Performance Watcher Trigger (in the workflow) starts a task if the amount of available memory is ONLY 10 megabytes or less for 1 minute or more. If this threshold is met and the memory usage is too high, the Send Notification task generates an email message informing the administrator and end user of the problem.

The Monitor C:\ Drive performance trigger monitors the local C: drive and an extended logical volume partition.  If the Disk Space on the C: drive or the logical volume goes below 10 megabytes for 1 minute or more, then an email is sent in the Send Notification task.

Gathering Systems Information

All Operating Systems store information on every computer component. Windows Operating systems use the System Information tool called msinfo32.exe to gather and store information critical in troubleshooting in a report. IT support personnel use the report for assistance in quickly identifying computer problems. The msinfo32.exe generates a detailed report on the following categories:

  • Systems Summary
  • Hardware Resources
  • Components
  • Software Environment
  • Applications
  • Internet Explorer

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In the Get Sys Info sample task the AutoMate BPA Run action generates a report utilizing the msinfo32 Systems Information tool and places the report on an external device for reference and troubleshooting. As you can see in the picture above, some of the information included in msinfo32 is the Windows version, CPU processor type, memory amount and allocation, computer manufacturer, model, domain name, hardware resources and conflicts, applications, tools and system history.

After the systems information is gathered and sent, the Corrective Actions task starts. If the problem is caused by memory, the Automate BPA actions are used to display a message window that the computer will restart in 5 minutes to the logged-on user.  The administrator and/or end user have 5 minutes to properly shut down all of the open applications. If the application processes are physically running or stopped, the computer automatically restarts and the memory dumped and freed up for new processes. If the disk space is low, the task starts to compress folders contents and adds the date and timestamp to the end of the compressed filename; moves the compressed files to another location; deletes some files, then empties the recycle bin to free up disk space.

The AutoMate BPA triggers and actions provide so many options for automating performance and monitoring computers to assure 100% computer uptime. The built in actions assist in error detection, communication and gathering information on Windows desktops, laptops and servers. Ultimately, if something goes awry on your computer or server, with the AutoMate BPA dependable software, you WILL be notified of the problem and the measures provided to determine the next course of action. AutoMate BPA can either resolve the problem or provide maintenance upgrade information to eliminate downtime. At the end of the day, your computer(s) need to remain functional for continued productivity. Therefore, it is personal!


Click here for the sample workflow on Memory, Disk Space Monitoring and Operating Systems Gathering Information.

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