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Gartner Says IT Operations Analytics Helps Reduce the Occurrence of Incidents

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Gartner Says IT Operations Analytics Helps Reduce the Occurrence of Incidents

blog gartner logoRecently Gartner published a report exploring how IT Operations Analytics Technology Requires Planning and Training. The research brief by Gartner Research VP Will Cappelli is based on Gartner client inquiries, covering the subject of IT Operations Analytics. 

In the report, he describes the factors that have conspired to rapidly accelerate the growth in the volumes of performance and event data that IT operations teams are expected to manage. He notes that the "operational data explosion has sparked a sudden and significant increase in demand for ITOA systems." 

The report raises questions about whether IT operations teams have a the background in statistics necessary to make effective use of IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) technology, and how IT Operations should relate to the performance of ITOA in relation to reducing MTTR. 

To this he says "Assessments of value should not be focused on the reduction of MTTR but rather around the reduction in MTTR variance…Use the enhanced model discovery and root cause discovery capabilities of analytics to significantly reduce the number of extremely lengthy root cause discovery processes." 

How can IT Operations teams make the most of IT Operations Analytics tools

ITOA Changing Priorities

While Gartner found that more than 60% of organizations surveyed invested in ITOA tools for their predictive qualities, this changed following implementation. Cappelli explains that "Once the systems are bought and deployed, however, it seems that the focus on prediction dissipates and, instead, ongoing satisfaction with the technology is determined by the degree to which the technology assists in the discovery of hard-to-determine root causes of performance problems or faults." Such change in priorities is clearly explained by the fire-fighting culture of most IT operations organizations. However, like in any other area focus on a reactive approach can improve the organization's efficiency to only a limited extent. Unless a problem is pre-empted, resolution of the problem will always carry associated business and operations costs. 

Should MTTR determine ITOA effectiveness?

In nearly all enterprises today system availability is vital to business success. Thus variance around MTTR can indicate how serious issues are, even when overall availability appears workable. Yet as has been shown repeatedly, especially in high profile outage events, "a single outage that takes an extended time to repair will often have a more detrimental effect on customer loyalty and business effectiveness in general than a mediocre but consistent level of system availability." 

Based on this, the report raises the question as to whether reducing MTTR is the best way to assess the value of ITOA systems, particularly when an enterprise has only attained low levels of analytical maturity?

Most IT operations teams spend a disproportionate amount of time chasing various root causes for issues, primarily because of chaotic practices, weak or poorly enforced processes, and insufficient technology that obscures clues to resolution. Cappelli explains that rather than focusing on the amount of time that ITOA tools contribute to reducing MTTR, the effectiveness of ITOA tools should be measured around the reduction in MTTR variance, that this variance is precisely what ITOA can attack effectively. He says "It can be shown with some simple mathematics that changes to the mean time to failure number have a bigger impact on overall system availability than do changes to the MTTR number." This leads to his assertion that "ITOA systems, however, can significantly reduce that time in most hard cases and, in so doing, bring the down the MTTR variance (or risk)." 

Prospects for IT Operations Analytics Tools

Business success depends more than ever on IT operations maintaining performance, making business processes and IT operations highly interdependent and tightly linked. IT operations must deliver better risk-free services to the business with full support for the explosion of data, applications, infrastructure, and changes.

Cappelli outlines in the report that "while spend on this kind of technology amounted to approximately $350 million in 2011, we anticipate that Global 2000 enterprises will have spent $720 million on ITOA licenses and first year maintenance in 2012, plus an additional $30 million on managed services or software as a service (SaaS), and we expect that amount to grow by an average of 15% a year for the next five years." 

A Unique Approach to IT Operations Analytics

As mentioned, today IT operations faces new levels of challenges that can no longer be handled with existing approaches alone. This means applying new tools to help deal with the complexity and dynamics of today's IT environments. There is number of existing solutions and emerging ones that focus on processing performance and event data. Evolven's IT Operations Analytics solution brings another perspective to this, founding its approach on change and configuration information. Using changes as a context base for analysis, Evolven succeeds in delivering the intelligence that IT operations organizations crave, allowing them to turn piles of IT change and configuration data into actionable insights. 

Like Cappelli describes, this solution can investigate environment incidents and quickly identify configuration changes and differences that are the incident's root-cause. At the same time the solution identifies changes that could be harmful, that could impact stability and performance of critical business systems, proactively avoiding these issues.

Evolven provides a versatile technology for monitoring and analyzing applications and infrastructure configuration across the entire environment, identifying the changes, differences, inconsistencies and misconfigurations that can threaten environment stability (or already having caused an issue). Offering a consolidated view of the entire environment stack, Evolven allows various IT teams (devops, operations, infrastructure etc.) to monitor and control configuration and associated changes over the various layers and siloes of the environment stack. 

When based on the investigation of change and configuration data, the IT Operations Analytics approach stands to deliver many benefits to IT operations. This can enable companies to dramatically increase availability and performance of their IT environments, reduce the risk of production outages, and lower operating costs. 

IT Operations Analytics comes as a welcome relief to an industry that has already spent millions on mega solutions only to have their hopes and dreams shattered when implementing in their organizations. While able to quickly and efficiently discover the root cause of IT system performance problems, moreover the new discipline of IT operations analytics can provide IT Ops the tools to anticipate performance impacting events that can cripple IT operations management.

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About the Author
Martin Perlin