Shifting to Analytics-driven IT Operations

by Sasha Gilenson

Today Business Intelligence (BI) teams are applying analytics tools in order to provide business with a view into the massive amounts of data that is being collected throughout an organization. Companies apply these analytical tools to Big Data, in order to improve their competitive edge, by identifying the seemingly hidden trends, financial and operational patterns, customer relationships, business opportunities, buying opportunities and information that was has been out of view.

On the IT side, BSM initiatives have been implemented to ensure that IT is well-positioned to serve the needs of business. Yet, more than ever, the dynamic nature of today’s business, impedes this effort, having detrimental results on performance. In this ever-changing landscape, IT is faced with a near-overabundance of information, generated by such issues as accelerated release schedules, growing complexity, and increased diversity of platforms (Cloud, Virtualization, Open Source).

So it is ironic, that while business is applying sophisticated analytic tools to make sense of complex and overwhelming amounts of data, for taking on key management decisions, IT remains stuck in confronting similar challenges with manual and static approaches. As IT is tasked with supporting an organization’s technology infrastructure, this situation exposes IT (and really the business) to potentially catastrophic risks, through an inability to know what is happening in the IT environment.

Overwhelming Amounts of Data

IT is confronted with nearly ‘insurmountable’ amounts of data. While Cloud computing has paved the way to allow self-service provisioning, this actually increases the number of activities taking place outside of traditional IT operations. Due to the abstraction of cloud activities, IT then lacks visibility into events that take place beyond their jurisdiction. For example, look at the testing process. When a private cloud is set up, self-provisioning of servers allows the testing team to independently create environments to work in. This essentially circumvents the traditional requests to IT, making a process that was once completely managed by IT – entirely independent.

IT is Driven by Manual Processes

IT operations are static and manual process driven. The ITIL set of best practices for the area of IT Service Management defines a set of step-like processes for handling Change Management. Metrics are also applied so that information on things such as failed or successful changes are compared to.

In-Depth Planning Does Not Ensure Success

When a system outage occurs or there is a drop in performance, this initiates a series of activities, including root-cause analysis of a failures. IT administrators go throughout established, and well-planned processes to identify the cause, and try to pinpoint the problem. Yet to fully explore all the information impacting this state, IT would need to go broad and dive deep to the most granular level of configuration parameters to identify changes, and evaluate consistency between environments, and figure out what additional action occurred to influence performance. In today’s complex state, this is a task that can not be carried out manually. The sheer dynamics and overwhelming amount of information highlights the need for automated analytics to step in.

IT Management Driven by Static Workflows

IT’s processes are largely based on static workflows. Due to the inherent, rigid structure of these IT workflows, activities that take place outside of this process are just not taken into account. The pressure from ever- changing business demands, can even cause IT ops professional to skip steps in the workflow, like skipping a critical testing stage, to meet deadlines.

Workflows Offer False Security

Strict adherence to a set of established processes and approvals can then lull an IT organization into a false sense of security. The mistaken belief at most organizations is that when processes are enforced, then everything is running smoothly.

This reinforces the notion that IT is on top of all the changes and processes, based on the belief by IT ops that workflows absolutely enforce everything. In fact, this state actually undermines the success of IT operations.

Analytics Driven Management

The functioning of the human brain provides a nice way of looking at this situation. The brain is comprised of two distinct hemispheres. While the right side collects information, the left side is responsible for cognitive functions , analyzing this and then translating it into usable information.

To take on today’s complex state of operations and dynamics, IT needs to make a paradigm switch, applying automated analytics to the changing, overwhelming amounts of collected data, analyzing it and then presenting it to IT ops in an actionable format. This goes beyond just monitoring IT’s typical indicators, but comprehensively collecting and then analyzing all the data in an environment. This will allow IT ops decision makers to determine plans of action based on solid sources of information, and likewise ensure success for the business.

About Sasha Gilenson

Sasha Gilenson is founder and CEO of Evolven Software, currently launching a new software-as-a-service Change & Configuration Monitoring solution. He spent thirteen years at Mercury Interactive (acquired by HP) where he managed the QA organization, helped establish the SaaS offering, and was key to the development of their Business Technology Optimization (BTO) strategy, while serving as top “guru” in quality processes and the IT practices domain. More about Evolven: http:www.evolven.com


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Comments

  1. Great Article – In fact it is exactly what we deliver by our cloud management new way – know your cloud using Newvem.com an analytics-driven cloud management service.

  2. Great post Sasha, and I couldn’t agree more !
    As you know, the paradigm switch you refer to is exactly why we founded http://www.newvem.com . it’s time that big data analytics gets applied to IT management – especially when it comes to public and private clouds.

    Yaron Benvenisti
    CEO and Co-Founder
    Newvem

  3. Yes this is a very hot topic, especially so when also discussed with PaaS. This is great:

    “it’s time that big data analytics gets applied to IT management – especially when it comes to public and private clouds. ”

    This is the focus of our next big webinar, we should get you guys on there : http://Agile-Cloud.info.
    That would make a great headline topic.

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