Traditionally, Application Performance Management (APM) is usually associated with solutions that instrument application code. There are two fundamental limitations with such associations. If instrumenting the code is what APM is all about, then APM is applicable only to homegrown applications for which access to code is available ...
In my last blog, I expressed my opinion that IT operations teams may be about to enjoy a renaissance rather than dismally fading away — but only if they adopt new ways of working, measuring themselves and interacting with business stakeholders.
In this blog, I'd like to discuss how technology investments can help smooth the way toward operational transformation with a few examples from recent interviews. More specifically, I'd like to focus on three key areas of innovation, all in some way related to Advanced IT Analytics (what some in the industry call IT Operations Analytics or ITOA):
1. How Advanced IT Analytics (AIA) can pave the way
2. How next-generation ITSM promotes AIA-relevant process improvements
3. How AIA and service modeling can become a magic combination
These three areas of innovation are, admittedly, far from a complete list. But hopefully they will offer you a provocative place to start for seeking out transformative IT technologies.
How Advanced IT Analytics Can Pave the Way
Probably one of the hottest, most diverse and most misunderstood areas of technological innovation is AIA. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the most significant reason is that AIA is not a single market but a diverse landscape of options ranging from those bordering on traditional "big data" to those that are focused on real-time predictive insights with tiered approaches to data collection that typically include leveraging third-party tools. The variances here also embrace multiple use cases ranging from performance management to change and capacity optimization to financial optimization to integrated security concerns.
Here are just a few highlights from EMA's recent AIA research focusing on performance, change and capacity management:
■ AIA analytic heuristics range from anomaly detection to predictive trending to machine learning, to rule-based analytics to data mining — as just some examples. On average, our respondents wanted at least four different heuristics.
■ On average, respondents wanted their AIA investments to support 11 different roles (and many more stakeholders), including four domain-specific roles, four cross-domain roles (including executive IT), and three non-IT business roles.
■ The top three achieved benefits were with faster time to repair problems, faster time to deliver new services and more efficient use of cloud resources.
Quoting from a conversation earlier this year:
QUOTE #1: "The move [to advanced analytics] allowed us to unify our operations team with a single-pane-of-glass view and drill down so that we could share information more effectively. In the past, we caught only 3% of our problems proactively. Now that percentage went up to 88% … In effect, we are able to see everything we need to see to focus and resolve issues far more cohesively and dynamically than before."
How Next-Generation ITSM Promotes AIA-Relevant Process Improvements
Next-generation ITSM is in my view pivotal for both IT and IT operational transformation. So what are they? Next-generation ITSM teams are more progressively integrated with operations teams, more proactive, more likely to leverage and share analytics, more likely to provide workflows and automation that unify IT as a whole (as well as support enterprise business process needs), and more likely to provide meaningful metrics for IT efficiencies and governance than the more reactive ITSM teams of the past.
Following the AIA data path, we saw that 82% of our respondents indicated strong levels of ITSM/operations integration for shared advanced analytics!
Quoting from two other conversations earlier this year highlighting next-generation ITSM values:
QUOTE #2: "First and foremost we've been able to consolidate our processes for change, incident, and problem management across our entire operation by leveraging one single platform …"
QUOTE #3: "We've also enjoyed improved visibility into the impacts of changes on service performance and availability, so we can more quickly get to the root cause of many of the issues caused by changes and begin to automate fixes more consistently."
How AIA + Service Modeling Can Result in (at least a little) Magic
The AIA research showed that 96% of respondents wanted at least some level of modeled insight on interdependencies across the application infrastructure. Among the top three priorities were application-to-infrastructure, infrastructure-to-infrastructure, and application-to-application (application ecosystem) dependency insights.
Combining analytics with service modeling is a growth area in AIA, as analytics providers are becoming more effective in not only leveraging existing application dependency mapping solutions and even CMDB data, but also in creating their own unique approach to dependency modeling.
In another very recent dialog, I found some rather striking benefits when service modeling and analytics are combined:
QUOTE #4: "We estimate that we will be saving about $500,000 in the area of toolset consolidation … We were averaging 2.5 hours for MTTR … now it's about 38 minutes … You might say we never had eyes before. Now we have eyes."
This is, admittedly, only a taste of what I've learned from research and conversations with IT about how technology can help to transform IT operations for the "brave new world" we live in. My focus on AIA, next-generation ITSM and service modeling was deliberate, as I see these as lying at the heart of the "operations renaissance." Also important are requirements for more advanced levels of automation and integrated support for security and operations. Superior digital experience management or end user experience management is also key.
The challenge in the market today is that while all these technologies are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, the innovations are coming from many different vendor sources. And true to form, many of these vendors are seeking to redefine the world around themselves in their marketing and messaging. Sorting through the pieces, and understanding where real value lies, takes time and patience and more than a little sober skepticism. But the innovations are real. And hopefully this blog can give you at least a hint — by category — of where to begin to look for them.
I deliberately kept the quotes anonymous on all fronts. If you'd like to see more information, then please check out our EMA library:
■ quote 1
■ quote 4
Dennis Drogseth is VP at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA).