Today’s IT teams are dealing with a growing mountain of data. What’s more, they’re finding themselves having to use a multitude of tools in order to monitor and manage that data. In situations of technical outages, this can make it incredibly difficult and time-intensive to identify and resolve underlying issues. Anyone in business knows that even just a tiny amount of down-time can have a serious and costly impact on the bottom line. And it’s the IT team that bears the brunt of the burden.
As Padraig Byrne, Senior Director Analyst at Gartner put it:
“IT operations is challenged by the rapid growth in data volumes generated by IT infrastructure and applications that must be captured, analyzed and acted on. Coupled with the reality that IT operations teams often work in disconnected silos, this makes it challenging to ensure that the most urgent incident at any given time is being addressed.”
Take, for example, the two largest supermarket chains in Australia. Last year, both experienced severe technical issues which forced them to shut down several stores while they worked on fixing the problem. Not only did those companies lose revenue during the shutdown, but they also suffered a serious blow to their reputation. In other words, customers were not happy.
To better and more quickly identify, resolve and prevent outages and other problems, organizations are turning to artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) – the long-term impact of which Gartner’s Byrne predicts will be nothing short of “transformative.”
What is AIOps
In simplest of terms, AIOps combines data science and machine learning functionality to enhance and/or replace the majority of IT operations functions. This includes performance and availability monitoring, event analysis and correlation, ITSM and automation. To put it even more simply, AIOps platforms gather and analyze all of the data produced by IT to extract what’s of value and present meaningful insights.
And AIOps is quickly gaining ground. Gartner predicts that by 2023, the exclusive use of AIOps to monitor infrastructure and applications will reach 30% – up from just 5% in 2018.
“IT leaders are enthusiastic about the promise of applying AI to IT operations, but as with moving a large object, it will be necessary to overcome inertia to build velocity,” comments Byrne. “The good news is that AI capabilities are advancing, and more real solutions are becoming available every day.”
How to Get Started with AIOps
Step 1: Don’t put it on the back burner.
If you really want to reap the benefits of AI for your IT operations, the time to jump on the AIOps bandwagon is now. Don’t make this an afterthought or push it out as some far-off future initiative. Even if the actual deployment isn’t imminent, start preparing yourself and others within your organization by becoming familiar with artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities today. This way, in the event that priorities shift and you need to implement sooner, you’ll already be a few steps ahead of the game.
Step 2: Be careful when choosing your initial test case.
The concept of AIOps at scale may seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that truly transformative initiatives almost always start small. Focus first on capturing knowledge, testing frequently and iterating as needed. You don’t need to be an expert right out of the gate, and not every project you spearhead will be a resounding success. Just be mindful of what you’re starting with and work your way up from there.
Step 3: Work on developing and demonstrating your proficiency.
If you are leading the AIOps charge in your organization, you’ll inevitably be the go-to subject matter expert, at least initially. It will be up to you to communicate and convey the value of the technology to your colleagues and others in leadership. Wear your role with pride and start assembling a team of others who can champion the cause alongside you. Start by identifying gaps that exist in skills and experience, and then create a plan to address those gaps together.
Step 4: Don’t be afraid to experiment.
There are already many AIOps platforms on the market that are incredibly complex and subsequently cost-prohibitive. As with any tech product or solution, it’s wise do experiment and test the waters. Keep in mind that more features doesn’t necessarily equate to a better product. Your organization may not need all those bells and whistles. If possible, take advantage of product demos and free trials. This will enable you to evaluate AIOps uses and applications specific to your business needs without having to invest too heavily or commit to one particular solution.
Step 5: Expand your vision beyond the IT department.
Data management is a massive component of AIOps. Take a step back and examine your organization. Chances are very high that your existing teams are already skilled in this area and that there are data and analytics tools already present within your organization. Resist the urge to reinvent the wheel and be willing to expand your vision to look beyond the IT department. It could save you tremendous time, effort and money.
Step 6: Standardize whenever possible and modernize wherever it makes sense.
You can prepare your existing infrastructure so that it is capable of supporting an AIOps implementation in the future by developing a consistent automation architecture, immutable infrastructure patterns and infrastructure as code (IaC).
Step 7: Consider build-vs-buy.
Understand that there are a number of variables involved in making a shift to AIOps. Likewise, the platforms available on the market today will continue to evolve, as will the infrastructure and applications for which you are responsible currently. Be mindful of this as you weigh whether to purchase a solution or build one of your own. Ideally, the best answer will likely be a combination of the two, so be prepared to figure out which approach best applies where and by how much.
Over the past few years, AIOps has developed from an emerging category to an IT necessity. Successful companies are beginning to leverage AIOps to automate and improve IT operations by applying machine learning to their data. Furthermore, forward-thinking organizations will use AIOps to draw valuable insights from their IT data that will help drive strategic business decisions.
If AIOps is on your to-do list (and it certainly should be), the steps outlined above should help you to, at the very least, lay the groundwork so that when the time comes to implement, the process will go faster and much more smoothly.
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