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7 Terrific Ways for Applying IT Analytics to Dramatically Improve IT Operations

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7 Terrific Ways for Applying IT Analytics to Dramatically Improve IT Operations


 

For complex and dynamic IT environments, IT is moving to apply an analytics-driven approach to better manage IT operations, significantly improving how configuration information will be handled. Check out our list and see how to leverage analytics to get the most out of configuration data for maximizing stability and ensuring dependable performance.

1. Validating Changes in Testing

A major challenge for a testing team is to know the specific changes in the system drop that they are supposed to validate. By analyzing differences between the states of a pre-production environment before and after the deployment, the testing team can focus on all the deltas in the drop. This knowledge can empower the testing team to make critical decisions on the scope and priorities of the testing activities. 

2. Pre-production vs. Production

How well do your pre-production environments represent production? Keeping production and pre-production environments perfectly aligned is often a challenge, as numerous differences come up between them. However there are key configuration parameters that need to match up between these environments. By analyzing the software infrastructure and other infrastructure layers between the pre-production and production environment, you can ensure that your pre-production environments are sufficiently representative to successfully drive validation activities. 

3. Release Validation

When you push a change from pre-production to production, or supervise application deployment, how do you know the it was deployed correctly? By analyzing the configuration of both environments after deployment of the release, you can compare them with each other. This way you ensure they sufficiently match to make the release successful. 

4. Environmental Consistency of Production Environment

The consistency of components throughout the production environment is critical. By analyzing consistency of your current environment, you can ensure that similar servers or particular environment components (i.e: load balanced web servers) are configured exactly the same way. You can preserve consistency by analyzing the distribution of each new change. Thus you can ensure that the change is deployed consistently across all similar sub-environments. 

5. Planned and Unplanned Changes

Whether environment changes are planned or not, IT analytics can make sure that environment performs as expected and is available. By analyzing detected drift against the planned changes, you can identify when your environment is slipping off course, and quickly take corrective actions. For instance, you can consider the following issues:

  • Is the scope the same as expected in terms of change environment boundaries?
  • Is the content of the change in terms of the affected files, database schemas, configuration parameters etc. the same as expected?

6. Incident Management and Resolution

Whenever an incident occurs, there is a possibility that an unauthorized change took place. You know it worked before. Now it doesn't. What happened? For example: What change took place in the last hour? By analyzing the configuration parameters, you can correlate the incident to changes that occurred in your environment. 

Analytics can be leveraged for accelerating incident resolution by comparing to the configuration that has been validated and always works. By analyzing the differences between the problematic environment and a "golden baseline" of the working configuration, you can identify any discrepancy that could be the root-cause of the incident. 

Furthermore, when you have the situation of a working server and a non-functioning server, you can analyze to isolate the change. This may have been caused by an undocumented change that was introduced to the server environment. By analyzing and comparing working and non-working environments, you can identify if a change wasn't captured, boosting the incident resolution process. 

7. Auditing

Ensuring compliance to corporate governance is critical for smooth functioning of the organization. The audit provides key feedback for process improvement, since you can monitor history and see what worked, was effective and what wasn't. By analyzing configuration changes, you can carry out audits to meet compliance requirements.

Your Turn
We'd like to hear your insights into this area.

How do you see IT analytics best being applied to impact the areas of change management and configuration management?


 

About the Author
Sasha Gilenson
Sasha Gilenson enjoyed a long and successful career at Mercury Interactive (acquired by HP), having led the company's QA organization, participating in establishing Mercury's Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as leading a Business Unit in Europe and Asia.

Sasha played a key role in the development of Mercury's worldwide Business Technology Optimization (BTO) strategy and drove field operations of the Wireless Business Unit, all while taking on the duties as the Mercury's top "guru" in quality processes and IT practices domain. In this capacity, Sasha has advised numerous Fortune 500 companies on technology and process optimization, and in turn, acquired a comprehensive and rare knowledge of the market and industry practices.

Sasha holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science from Latvian University and MBA from London Business School.