CIOs are under intense pressure today to be fast, flexible and innovative, as well as extremely cost-effective. IT Ops teams play a fundamental role here. They must discover, monitor, manage, and optimize multicloud services, application containers, serverless deployments, data sets from across the business, and edge computing devices. It’s no wonder that in many IT organizations a significant amount of time, an estimated 50-70%, is spent in issue classification and assignment instead of resolution.
We’ve been living in technical granular metrics: server utilization, network uptime, website latency, and a dozen other technical details. Yet those technical metrics don’t mean much in the context of business. IT operations teams should instead focus on managing the technology infrastructure and application to better enable the business drivers and metrics across the board. IT Ops owns the data on IT usage and application performance across different technology and organizational boundaries — so the mission is to monetize that data to bring business value.
This is where the idea of the future of IT Ops, or FutureOps, becomes so powerful. FutureOps is an intelligently-automated, business-centric practice of IT operations that will help reduce technical debt in companies while leveraging new technologies for business gain.
FutureOps will enable CIOs to finally move from IT metrics to business metrics. A laser focus on business data enables CIOs to help answer critical questions such as:
- Who are our customers, and why are they buying from us and how should we engage with them better?
- How can we beat the competition next month?
- How can we be the most trusted company in our market?
- Why do we have high customer churn?
- How can we deliver excellent customer experiences?
There’s evidence that CIOs welcome this shift. In a recent survey conducted by OpsRamp, 64% of IT operations leaders believe their job is to deliver agile, responsive, and resilient infrastructure that can support fast-moving business requirements.
FutureOps is a data-driven discipline, defined by these three traits:
- Data-enabled automation: Automation can serve the global enterprise at scale in the speed it demands to maintain high performance and usability. Automation can relieve IT teams of the drudgery of routine tasks, such as rebooting a server or updating a patch. The next evolution of automation is smarter, more aware, and more contextual. It relies upon AI and machine-learning technologies to discover hidden resources and threats, uncover patterns, filter the noise, and aid decision-making. Smart, self-learning algorithms will be integrated into many of the operations tools and platforms at hand. Let’s take the classic IT operations manual, the runbook. People still refer to these runbooks, even though they’re not often updated. In the world of distributed cloud computing, serverless and microservices, the environment is always changing and demands adaptive responses. The AI-enhanced runbook lives within IT operations systems that are used every day; it’s aware of the environment and adjusts or suggests responses based on what’s happening in the moment. Let’s take a common problem of managing disk space. The network monitoring system notices that a user is downloading a large volume of files onto a drive, approaching the drive’s capacity. The system automatically adds space to the drive but then alerts staff to investigate. Is that employee doing something out of the ordinary for their job?
- DevOps and IT Ops merge: IT Ops and DevOps haven’t always seen eye to eye. IT Ops is defined by stability and repeatability whereas DevOps is all about agility, flexibility and customer experience. IT Ops is loyal to its tools and systems whereas DevOps practitioners change toolsets all the time. The merger of these two disciplines can reliably bring what the business needs without killing performance and user experience. IT Operations teams need to manage ephemeral workloads like serverless and containers in a way that’s agile, adaptable and changeable according to cost overrun or resource demands. These workloads should be monitored as fast as they are provisioned. As IT Ops works faster and with better visibility into DevOps tools and practices, team members can gain a deeper view of monitoring needs from the end-user perspective. This gives IT Ops the means to adapt infrastructure demands as fast as customer demands change.
- Context is everything: For years now, IT has had shadow IT to contend with: all those cloud apps and services that are hidden and not provisioned and managed in line with IT governance requirements. IT infrastructure gets more complex all the time: on-premise, cloud, DevOps, SecOps, and IT monitoring tools and technologies are all mashed together. Now it’s really hard to make sense of all the disconnected data points and to even know the entirety of IT assets. FutureOps will restore order by integrating tools and data so that IT employees can be on the same page. They’ll be able to map server and network metrics to business services, ensuring that each service has the optimal resources and configurations. We’ve always talked about measuring our performance on how we handle data from the three V’s: volume, velocity, variety. In FutureOps, we add a fourth V: value, as in business value.
FutureOps depends upon connecting the data, process, people and technology dots, delivering intelligence through AI, and automating rote activities to save time and money. It will give everybody in IT a clear line of sight into infrastructure status and health, the ability to proactively understand and prevent issues, and the ability to find root causes and solutions faster.
Feature image via Pixabay.