Available since the early 1990s, enterprises have relied on hundreds of IT management tools to monitor their infrastructure elements and applications. Still the promise of monitoring remains elusive. Many of these IT management tools present raw data, but lack insight into the actual meaning buried in all that data.
In fact, more than half of the senior IT ops Fortune 500 executives surveyed are dissatisfied with their Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solutions, and 75% are dissatisfied with their Business Service Monitoring (BSM) solutions.
Top reasons for dissatisfaction include an inability to support ALL applications or track all application components; difficult tool integration; and the simple fact that the tools do not actually help IT solve problems. In fact, 30 percent of the respondents say they do not have a way to proactively detect problems, which often means they only find out about critical problems when end users complain.
Now new analytics-based solutions are emerging to address these pains, able to provide the insights to help manage operations more effectively. They detect and help solve problems by churning through piles of data and translating this to understandable, relevant information.
Today’s IT Challenges: Complexity, Speed, Silos
To better understand how IT Analytics is different, let’s explore the current scene and understand the challenges and issues confronting today’s IT environments.
The IT landscape has grown in complexity supporting a wider and growing range of technologies and platforms (Virtualization, Cloud, Open Source etc.). As Forrester recently declared, “If you can’t manage today’s complexity, you stand no chance of managing tomorrow’s. With each passing day, the problem of complexity gets worse. More complex systems present more elements to manage and more data, so growing complexity exacerbates an already difficult problem.” (Forrester Research Turn Big Data Inward With IT Analytics)
Accelerated application deployment and software deployment schedules are driving high-paced change activity for meeting business requirements. For IT Operations, change takes place at every level of the application and infrastructure stack, pushing IT to stay on top of an ever growing collection of information and environment content. Without systems to manage and organize this growth, IT will drown in its own data.
Existing IT Management Tools Get Lost in the Noise - a Big Data Problem?
Monitoring tools like APM or BSM solutions gather a lot of information, coming from a variety of sources: logs, application performance availability data, change and configuration data, and transaction data. Yet, buried in piles of distracting data, IT operations cannot find the information that could provide valuable insights separating what is useful from what is not like the “needle in a haystack” problem: you know it’s there but you just can’t find it. It’s time to call these challenges for what they truly are: “Big Data” problems.
The disappointment with APM and BSM tools really stems from the fact that they never approached the current state of IT as a Big Data problem. “The tools present us with the raw data, and lots of it, but sufficient insight into the actual meaning buried in all that data is still remarkably scarce.” (Forrester Research)
IT Analytics Turns Big Data Inward
IT Analytics can provide the insights to help IT more effectively manage operations. IT Analytics is the use of mathematical algorithms and other innovations to extract meaningful information from the sea of raw data collected by management and monitoring technologies.
Forrester Research says to “think of it as turning the concept of Big Data inward to make better decisions about the business technology services and the underlying infrastructure and applications.”
Don’t Toss Out Your Investment! Analytics Complements IT Management Tools
Complementing APM, the new discipline of IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) or IT Analytics, stands to expand and be applied to more IT areas, providing greater insight for ensuring application availability and maintaining performance.
ITOA won’t replace APM. Enterprises should maintain their APM investment, and complement it with the power of analytics. Gartner’s Will Cappelli recommends that "IT operations teams should use ITOA platforms to supplement and not replace investments in end-user experience monitoring, application topology discovery and modeling, user-defined transaction profiling, and deep-dive component monitoring."
New Analytics-Based Tools Detect Problems and Solve Performance Issues
Various new solutions are emerging that take a different perspective on this abundant information confronting IT operations teams. They have the ability to analyze the application performance data, or index and search machine data based on system execution (logs), or take a transaction-centric approach, feeding data into an analytics module for business-relevant reporting and alerts.
Yet, managing the configuration of multiple environments is still the bane of IT Operations. Between applications, environments, and individual instances, mistakes and unauthorized changes still happen. This means that IT operations wastes time managing configuration values. Emerging IT Operations Analytics tools can translate abundant detailed configuration data and frequent changes into critical decision-support information, providing actionable insights that address practical day-to-day operations questions.
These analytics-based technologies can provide the intelligence lacking in the current IT Management toolset, dramatically improving the ability for IT operations to support today’s complex environments.
Sasha Gilenson is the Founder and CEO of Evolven Software.