5 Ways Observability in AIOps Helps IT Do More With Less
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A large part of the IT expense contribution is in staffing. According to CompTIA's 2021 Cyberstates report, the median wage of tech workers is nearly 2X that of other roles across all sectors. As tech becomes increasingly sophisticated, the cybersecurity threat ever-more dire, and regulatory compliance more stringent, the need for specialized staff increases. Yet, even with higher salaries offered, many organizations have trouble finding and retaining the talent they need to support their strategy and growth goals.
AIOps offers several significant benefits that can help improve staff retention, speed up onboarding, foster productivity, and improve the bottom line. In a recent article, we highlighted where ScienceLogic, one of WWT's premier AIOps partners, fits within the AIOps framework. In this post, I'll share some of the business benefits they've helped WWT deliver to our shared customers.
But before we get into that, let's do a quick level set on the definition of AIOps. AIOps isolates high-value decision making, powered by the combination of AI and Automation applied to IT Operations in the pursuit of IT excellence and business innovation. AI isn't new to IT. Neither is automation. AIOps simply combines them to achieve an all-new level of operational excellence.
AI isn't new to IT. Neither is automation. AIOps simply combines them to achieve an all-new level of operational excellence.
AIOps is also about more than the technology. First, there's a significant "people" element involved. When AIOps isolates high-value decision making, one of two broad paths are followed. Ideally, if the decision is one that can be automated, AIOps will take care of it, freeing up staff and management to focus on those decisions which can't be automated. In that case, AIOps augments the decision-maker's knowledge with additional insights that help them make the right decision quickly. When the right decisions are made quickly and action (automated or human) is taken, the business, its employees, and its customers all benefit.
In addition, every AIOps implementation is different, even if many of the tools are the same, because we take into account the unique organizational culture as well as its defined processes. Where standardized processes don't exist, we assist the organization in creating and documenting approaches and methodologies. There's always a people element here as well. When defining processes, we want to leave the organization with documented procedures that can be executed by existing staff, but also build in a change management element to allow them to adapt standard processes as their business grows and their needs change.
Now let's dive into how AIOps can help your IT organization do more with less.
Most IT departments maintain an ever-expanding portfolio of IT monitoring and management tools. EMA, a research organization contracted by ScienceLogic to study AIOps implementations, found that most IT departments had invested in at least 25 tools and that 100+ was not uncommon.
While many of these tools originally served a unique purpose, only one or two people may know how to use them effectively. When those individuals leave the organization, IT is often left with a gap in coverage that isn't easily filled. We've even run across instances where SaaS subscriptions were still active for tools that were no longer used. No one in IT had thought to let procurement know, and when budgets were rolled up, the detail got lost.
One of the advantages of enlisting WWT to oversee an AIOps implementation is that we're experts at identifying opportunities for tools consolidation. For example, when we implement ScienceLogic, we often replace half a dozen or more legacy tools with their SL1 monitoring platform.
WWT's AIOps platform offers another advantage in that it provides a more controlled approach to managing these tools and the insights they offer into IT operations. On the day-to-day management level, AIOps augments the IT professional's ability to diagnose and resolve issues by providing a more complete picture of what's happening throughout the system. This increased visibility and the AI and Machine Learning algorithms in AIOps can also help IT onboard new staff faster. Fewer systems to learn leads to shorter learning curves and less chance of human error due to lack of familiarity with various tools.
The EMA study found "improved IT and business alignment" to be the number one business benefit from the AIOps implementation. With AIOps, IT operations is no longer the "black box" it's always been, with only a handful of people knowing what's really going on. A well-implemented AIOps platform helps CXOs, in business and IT, focus on those metrics that really matter to the overall health of the organization..
Downtime is a significant issue for some organizations. Loss of accessibility to data and applications can have an outsized impact on the business as more and more business transactions happen online. Downtime that lasts several hours or more can bring a business to its knees.
IT systems are much like a living organism. Issues in one part of the system, no matter how seemingly minor or remote, can have an impact on the health of the rest of the system. Diagnosing the problem and resolving it is particularly difficult when collaboration is hindered by physical distance or by differences in specialties. We've found the latter to be especially common in large organizations that maintain separate teams for security, infrastructure, network management, etc. Because these roles are so specialized and sometimes housed in different buildings or even cities, professionals may have never met their peers on other teams.
While increased visibility helps IT diagnose a problem – or spot it before it happens – the cross-domain workflows in the ScienceLogic SL1 platform help bridge the divide between disparate IT teams. This helps reduce Mean Time to Identification (MTTI), Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR), and by extension, downtime frequency and duration.
Many IT departments manage thousands of assets: laptops, PCs, servers, IOT devices, security equipment, communications systems, etc. Improper configuration of these assets can impact performance and drive up IT expenses. For example, sub-par performance might lead to asset replacement when simply changing how the asset is configured would have resolved the issue. Worse yet, poorly configured assets can leave the door open to security and compliance issues.
ScienceLogic's SL1 AIOps platform offers a comprehensive Configuration Management Database (CMDB) that houses information on all IT assets, including hardware, software, and apps, as well as how they interrelate to each other. This latter aspect is critical as it helps IT Operations triage how problems in one area might have originated in another, seemingly unrelated, area of the system. An accurate, up-to-date CMDB also helps coordinate incident management and reduce noise between teams.
Last but not least, automation seems to be on the top of everyone's list as a way to do more with less. The ScienceLogic CMDB mentioned above is just one example of where automation can reduce the effort required. When configuration changes are made, these changes are automatically updated in the CMDB.
As an added but noteworthy bonus, removing the need for manual updating also reduces incidences of human error. Reducing human error also improves uptime as well as operational efficiency. After all, if it gets done right the first time, there is no need to spend time correcting errors or remediating their impact.
Again, this is another area where WWT can provide expert guidance. The EAM study found that slightly more than half (54.8%) of organizations had automated more than 50% of those tasks they felt could be automated. Together with partners like ScienceLogic, WWT has helped many of our customers identify those areas ripe for automation and select the best tools for the job.
To learn more about how your peers are leveraging AIOps and the results they're seeing, download the EMA report. If you're ready to do more with less, get started today by reaching out to us for a strategy discussion and more info on how AIOps can help.