5 IT Operations Challenges – and 1 Main Cause
January 21, 2013
Vic Nyman
Share this

A recent survey of IT Operations executives found the following to be the most impactful challenges facing their teams:

1. Too much time spent resolving business-impacting application outages or slowdowns

IT Operations teams spend too many work hours resolving application performance problems. The biggest single opportunity to reduce this resource drain is to streamline the process of localizing the problem – in short, find the actual problem faster.

The Mean Time to Resolve issues (MTTR) is the primary measure that Operations teams use to determine their effectiveness in dealing with problems. Whenever Operations teams speak about management projects, the ultimate goal is to reduce MTTR.

Forrester Research’s Evelyn Oehrlich breaks down MTTR as the sum of four sub-components:

- The time it takes to detect a problem (measured by the MTTI or “Mean Time to Identify”)

- The time it takes to isolate the problem (measured by the MTTK or “Mean Time to Know”)

- The time it takes to implement the fix (measured by MTTF or “Mean Time to Fix”)

- The time it takes to verify that the fix is working (measured by MTTV or “Mean Time to Verify”)



As shown in the above graphic, the best opportunity to reduce the overall time to resolve issues is to cut the time spent isolating the root cause of the problem. Understanding that quickly finding where a problem occurred has the most potential for improvement, the focus should be on tools that isolate issues across the infrastructure, as opposed to solving more issues on specific platforms.

2. Too many Experts are required to help with application incidents

Having too many people spending time on bridge calls is a well-documented complaint. But really it is a symptom of a process problem. Bridge calls are attended by specialists – experts from the web tier, the database, the application server, etc. They are all on the same call to facilitate a broken process – that of using people to isolate the source of an application problem.

Management tools that provide a holistic view of application performance can eliminate the need to assemble the large team, and instead allow a single individual to isolate the problem component. With the source of the problem isolated, that individual can then engage only with the appropriate expert.

3. Problems are only discovered when users complain about them

As an Operations executive, I have a rule for my team that I never be surprised. I’m also realistic enough to know that sometimes things will go wrong. In an IT environment, outages will happen. The key is to not be surprised by the outages. This means proactive monitoring of applications – not just at the individual component level, but across the entire application infrastructure.

In today’s complex environments, relying on resource monitoring of individual servers is a sure-fire path to unpleasant surprises.

4. Management Tools can’t support the Mix of Technologies that Make up Apps

Management tools are built to address specific problems. Many of the APM tools in the field today were built to handle Java and .Net application code manipulation. These capabilities are important, but they don’t address problems that originate outside the application code. Enterprise applications of today are complicated animals – often consisting of several different discrete component types. IT Operations teams need to ensure that their management tools can identify and address the most common sources of application failures.

5. Implementation of mass virtualization, Private, and Hybrid Cloud

Virtualization and Private Cloud have become mainstream components of today’s application environments, and Hybrid Cloud is expected to be very big in 2013. Disconnecting the applications from the infrastructure specification creates a management visibility gap as to how systems are working together to deliver the business services. IT Operations teams need tools that can provide a complete application view across all these environments to be able to avoid the management blind spots.

One Major Cause: Application Complexity

The key difference in today’s applications from those running even 3 years ago is growing complexity. New technologies allow for more sophisticated enterprise applications - the days of applications being made up of a web server and a database are gone. Today’s applications feature a broad mixture of technologies and platforms, all with specialized functions and specialized management tools.

It’s this massive complexity that creates the other challenges:

- Today’s applications employ infrastructure components that alter the transaction paths and topology layout of applications on the fly, making it difficult or impossible to understand how transactions, applications and infrastructure work together.

- The resulting visibility gaps require experts for each platform to be available, just to TRY to understand (as a team) where applications and transactions go.

- Rapid change means that management tools struggle to keep up with the pace of change in technologies. In some cases, the platforms are so new that traditional management tools have no effective way of seeing even basic information.

- Finally, it is this dynamic complexity that makes it difficult for either IT Operations team members or full SWAT teams to solve problems when they occur. There are simply too many moving parts, too many new technologies, all put together in an unknown way (to the Operations Team) to deliver the desired business service.

The best way to deal with these challenges is to take a service-oriented approach to application service delivery. IT Operations teams that focus on how infrastructure performance impacts end-user service levels and use tools that manage transactions, applications, and infrastructure together will be able to overcome the 5 major challenges – cutting through those management gaps to provide true service management.

ABOUT Vic Nyman

Vic Nyman is the co-founder and COO of BlueStripe Software. Nyman has over 20 years of experience in systems management and APM and has held leadership positions at Wily Technology, IBM Tivoli, and Relicore/Symantec.

Share this

The Latest

March 04, 2021

User experience is a big deal. For public-facing interfaces, the friction of a bad customer experience can send potential business to your competitors. For IT services delivered within your organization, bad UX is one of the main drivers of shadow IT ...

March 03, 2021

When we talk about accelerated digital transformation, a lot of it is embodied in the move to cloud computing. However, the "journey to cloud" will not be uniform across organizations and industries, says Sendur Sellakumar, Splunk's CPO and SVP of Cloud. The uncertainty of the pandemic means that in 2020, many organizations tried to rein in spending to get some last value out of existing infrastructure investments. Yet some things you can't skimp on ...

March 02, 2021

The Model T automobile was introduced in 1908 ... Within a few years, competitors arrived on the scene including relic names such as Overland, Maxwell, and names that survived like Buick and Dodge. So, what does this have to do with the hybrid cloud market? From a business perspective — a lot ...

March 01, 2021

DevOps Institute announced the launch of the 2021 SRE Survey in collaboration with Catchpoint and VMware Tanzu. The survey will result in a more in-depth understanding of how SRE teams are organized, how they are measured, and a deep dive into specific automation needs within SRE teams ...

February 25, 2021

Organizations use data to fuel their operations, make smart business decisions, improve customer relationships, and much more. Because so much value can be extracted from data its influence is generally positive, but it can also be detrimental to a business experiencing a serious disruption such as a cyberattack, insider threat, or storage platform-specific hack or bug ...

February 24, 2021

Previously siloed IT teams and technologies are converging as enterprises accelerate their modernization efforts in reaction to COVID-19, according to a study by LogicMonitor ...

February 23, 2021

You surf the internet, don't you? While all of us are at home due to Covid lock-down and accepting a new reality, the majority of the work is happening online. IT managers are looking for tools that can track the user digital experience. Executives are reading a report from Gartner or Forrester about some of the best networking monitoring solutions available on the market. Project managers are using Microsoft Teams online to communicate and ensure team members are meeting deliverables on time. Remote employees everywhere use OWA to check their office mails. No matter what, you can be quite sure that everyone is using their favorite browser and search engine for connecting online and accomplish tasks ...

February 22, 2021

With the right solutions, teams can move themselves out of the shadows of error resolution and into the light of innovation. Observability data, drawn from their systems and imbued with context from AI, lets teams automate the issues holding them back. Contextualized data and insights also give them the language to speak to the incremental, product-led approach and the direction to drive key innovations in customer experience improvement. Communicating value becomes a much easier proposition for DevOps practitioners — and they can take their seat at the company table as contributors to value ...

February 18, 2021

Prediction: Successful organizations will blur (or erase) the line between ITOps and DevOps. DevOps has to coexist with traditional IT operations ... So bring a little DevOps to every aspect of IT operations. You don't even have to call it DevOps ...

February 17, 2021

The use of unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) solutions has increased since the start of the pandemic, and this increased use has created challenges for IT teams, according to a survey commissioned by NETSCOUT SYSTEMS ...