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Risk Assessment Program-as-a-service earning street cred

22 Dec 14

Risk assessment programmes shouldn’t be a one-time thing, says Nicola Ferguson, Microsoft NZ 
support practice manager.

If you called up Kiwi hip-hop star Scribe and asked him to come to your house and lay down some mad rhymes and beats to wish your grandma a happy birthday, that could legitimately be described as ‘rap-as-a-service’. 

However, RAP – or Risk Assessment Program-as-a-service – while not coming to a hip-hop club near you anytime soon – is increasingly earning street cred as a proactive way to keep business IT in a healthy state. 

For those unfamiliar with RAP-as-a-service, it is a cloud-based automated risk assessment program that is offered under Microsoft’s

Premier Support suite of support tools for particular technologies (Dynamics CRM, SQL Server, Windows Desktop, etc). It helps prevent serious issues from occurring by analysing the health and risks present in an IT environment, and recommending changes that will help avoid major problems. 

RAP-as-a-service works by collecting data remotely from the IT environment, which allows the business to maintain privacy and run an assessment on its own schedule. The data is then automatically encrypted and submitted through the cloud so results can be viewed almost immediately through an online portal. From here, an outside engineer can then to review any findings, provide recommendations, and build a remediation plan with the business IT manager. 

Put simply, it’s like having a diagnostic engineer keeping an eye on your IT environment 24 hours a day, helping you foresee 
the potentially unforeseeable problems that could threaten business productivity. 

Here’s an example: Imagine a situation where your end-users are suffering slow boot times, slow logon times, slow file copy, hung applications, and applications crashing. Diagnosing the root problem after such issues have arisen likely mean hours of downtime for the business. And time, of course, is money. 

How much money? One study conducted this year by Microsoft across a wide selection of small to large enterprises, showed that on average, the true cost of downtime caused by critical IT situations was $189,000 per hour. (Yes, per hour!) 

With a RAP-as-a-service application in place, a current IT environment would have been constantly assessed and changes recommended which improved the end-user experience before it became a problem, not after. 

RAP-as-a-service is by no means a perfect crystal ball that will envision every productivity-threatening scenario that may occur in a business. However, surveys of Microsoft customers with a RAP service in place experienced a 50 per cent reduction in critical situations.

It’s not hard to calculate how much reducing problems even by half equates to in real dollars for a business.

Risk assessment is obviously a vital function for running an effective IT environment for business, but it shouldn’t be a one-time event. RAP-as-a-service solves that problem. 

Just think, with the money saved by avoiding issues before they hit, you could probably hire a rap music star to drop beats for your grandma after all!  

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