Today's infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders are in a tight spot. On the one hand under constant pressure to lower operating costs, while on the other hand the business expects them to reinvent themselves, improve their capabilities, and directly impact the company's bottom line. To take control in a complex world of business and IT services, I&O leaders must adapt to doing more with less, balancing the demands of business groups with available IT resources, troubleshooting more effectively.
Chasing vs. Preventing Problems - IT Firefighting
IT is mandated to build and maintain IT environments with the highest possible availability (within budget and available resources). Challenges faced by IT Operations have intensified due to both the rapid growth in performance and event monitoring data volumes. As a result, for many IT organizations, especially with limited resources and with specialists wearing many hats, they often spend too much time fighting fires with “maintenance & support” and not enough time proactively avoiding issues like performance or availability problems.
The amount of time IT Ops spends firefighting not only hurts the IT department, but innovation across the entire company. With the magnitude of solutions in today's organization requiring input from IT, business opportunities are missed - from mastering proper new tech developments to better addressing the agile demands of the business. So how can the IT pro, who is fed up with just handling crisis after crisis, better leverage limited resources and get onto the important issues?
Old Approaches Don't Help
To keep up with the complexity of its IT environment IT Operations team's management practices, like the ITIL process approach, need to evolve and address the abundant data and complexity continuing to confront operations teams. In the past, while trying to stick to processes that were intended to make IT more efficient, these processes haven't been able to evolve fast enough, as evidenced by how the average team is burdened with bad practices that don't just slow down investigation efforts, but waste resources and really hamper innovation.
Furthermore, in many cases, traditional IT management tools were not designed to deal with today's volume, complexity and dynamics, leaving IT teams burdened when facing performance issues. While these tools may be able to provide IT Operations teams with lots of raw data, they lack insights or actionable information, leaving IT Operations without a successful way to pursue these issues.
Managing highly complex IT environments while trapped in a reactive mode leaves IT managers at a loss for how to understand all causes and effects happening amongst the hundreds of thousands of technologies in use across the enterprise. IT Operations needs to step back and take a more comprehensive approach, breaking the “reactive” cycle.
Break the Reactive Cycle
IT Ops teams have to cope with the reality of decreasing amounts of firefighters, while facing growing amounts of fires.
A prime example of what ignites these fires is change, which still remains a major blind spot for IT Operations and exposes business systems to risk each time a change happens in an application, infrastructure, data or workload. If some parameter somewhere in the application configuration was changed in a way that results in a critical issue, then it can take several days for the assembled IT firefighting team just to identify and find this "needle in the haystack" cause. Between planned applications or infrastructure updates, and individual emergency hotfixes, mistakes and unauthorized changes often happen (as has been seen with some high profile outages such as with Google), demanding that IT Ops spend long amounts of time fighting fires on IT systems.
This imbalance cannot continue forever. So the best solution for IT operations is to break the reactive cycle and move towards fire prevention to finally proactively detect situations that can cause problems early enough and quickly and easily resolve them. Where can IT Operations turn to be in prevention mode instead of reaction?
Preventing Fires with IT Operations Analytics
In complex environments, operations management needs more than the automation of mundane tasks to actually prevent issues. One of the approaches that can enhance automation is IT Operations Analytics (ITOA).
In the same spirit of business intelligence (BI), ITOA can blend operational data from the various silo-sourced data like machine events recorded in logs, APM metrics, security events, configuration changes etc. IT Operations Analytics can take a complex IT environment overflowing with data and transform it, turning operational data into a competitive tool that provides IT staff with the right information at the right time. Applying such techniques as complex-event processing, statistical pattern discovery, behavior learning engines, unstructured text file search, topology mapping and analysis, and multidimensional database analysis, IT Operations Analytics can sift through terabytes of operations data in real time, spotting risks and then presenting them in an understandable context.
Manage IT via a Prism of Change
With change requests and changes coming at a blinding pace, IT Operations teams need to use ITOA solutions to carry out a top down analysis blending and reviewing the diverse IT Operations data via changes as they occur, instead of reverse engineering a problem's root cause from low level machine events and metrics.
ITOA gives IT managers the ability to analyze IT operations through a prism of change that drives a single point of view of operations, allowing effective prevention and resolution of issues. ITOA helps IT specialists uncover why environments are not operating as they should, correlating various metrics into the context of the changing state of the environment (release, infrastructure update, user workload change etc.), allowing operators to successfully remediate and more importantly prevent issues.
Get More from Less Resources with Automation
Increased automation can enable IT Operations to identify such harmful changes while they happen and effectively remediate them, overcoming the changes that pose risk to stability and performance. Automation can ensure the error-free execution of mundane tasks, increasing the quality, consistency and availability of services delivered by IT Operations, dramatically lowering the cost per unit of management; for example, patching thousands of physical servers or virtual machines with no human involvement.
While automation can provide IT Operations teams with more time to focus on innovation and deployment of new applications, it's really just a first step for helping IT Operations managers proactively understand what is happening in their environments.
New IT Operations Analytics tools take a fresh perspective on the abundant data and complexity confronting operations teams, automatically generating actionable insights that current tools don't offer, to help IT stay ahead of the curve. These solutions enable IT organizations to address a broader set of tasks, making problem resolution and root cause analysis easier and faster.
Sasha Gilenson is the Founder and CEO of Evolven Software.
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, APMdigest asked experts from across the industry for their opinions on the best way to measure eCommerce performance, in terms of applications, networks and infrastructure. Part 3, the final installment, covers the customer journey ...
Just in time for the holiday shopping season, APMdigest asked experts from across the industry for their opinions on the best way to measure eCommerce performance, in terms of applications, networks and infrastructure. Part 2 covers APM and monitoring ...
As the holiday shopping season looms ahead, and online sales are positioned to challenge or even beat in-store purchases, eCommerce is on the minds of many decision makers. To help organizations decide how to gauge their eCommerce success, APMdigest compiled a list of expert opinions on the best way to measure eCommerce performance ...
More than 90 percent of respondents are concerned about data and application security in public clouds while nearly 60 percent of respondents reported that public cloud environments make it more difficult to obtain visibility into data traffic, according to a new Cloud Security survey ...
Today's technology advances have enabled end-users to operate more efficiently, and for businesses to more easily interact with customers and gather and store huge amounts of data that previously would be impossible to collect. In kind, IT departments can also collect valuable telemetry from their distributed enterprise devices to allow for many of the same benefits. But now that all this data is within reach, how can organizations make sense of it all? ...
CIOs trying to lead digital transformation at the speed needed to succeed need a mix of three scale accelerators, according to Gartner, Inc. The three scale accelerators include: digital dexterity, network effect technologies, and an industrialized digital platform ...
While the majority of IT practitioners in the UK believe their organization is equipped to support digital services, over half of them also say they face consumer-impacting incidents at least one or more times a week, sometimes costing their organizations millions in lost revenue for every hour that an application is down, according to PagerDuty's State of Digital Operations Report: United Kingdom ...
Today's IT is under considerable pressure to remain agile, responsive and scalable to meet the changing needs of business. IT infrastructure can't become a bottleneck, it must be the enabler. But as new paradigms, such as DevOps, are adopted, data center complexity increases and infrastructure constraints can block the ability to achieve these goals ...
It's 3:47am. You and the rest of the Ops team have been summoned from your peaceful slumber to mitigate an application delivery outage. Your mind races as you switch to problem solving mode. It's time to start thinking about how to make this mitigation FUN! ...
With the increased complexity of IT environments, the rising cyber threats and the growing number of IT alerts, IT organizations have come to the realization that throwing more people at IT issues doesn't solve the problem ...