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The Rise of 7.5

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The Rise of 7.5

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This content is brought to you by Evolven. Evolven Change Analytics is a unique AIOps solution that tracks and analyzes all actual changes carried out in the enterprise cloud environment. Evolven helps leading enterprises cut the number of incidents, slash troubleshoot time, and eliminate unauthorized changes. Learn more

 

What’s New in Evolven’s Latest Release

Expect the Unexpected

The world isn’t always what we expect it to be… However, to deliver enhanced observability, improved customer experience, and facilitate business innovation users need to be able to expect the unexpected, handle uncertainty, and actively manage risk.

The intent of Evolven’s 7.5 release is to make it easier and faster for users to manage uncertainty and at the same time prevent problems, reduce risk, and resolve problems related to change.

Reconcile your Differences!

Change control is baked into IT Operations. However, with the best intentions the control aspect of it may not be pervasive, can be circumvented for expediency’s sake and what has actually changed may have drifted from what was recorded. To further complicate matters, changes may come from multiple directions. Changes may come downstream from an ITSM change management system such as ServiceNow, but may also be pushed upstream through code delivery as part of the CICD automation process utilizing tools such as Jenkins. There is a risk that these changes may conflict.

Some changes may skip the approval process. Sometimes, this is an outcome of expediency in repairing a critical priority one (P1) issue. Restoring services is paramount and the official process is circumvented. Sometimes, this is the way organizations implement standard pre-approved changes.

The result of these process deviations and conflicts will be risks in stability, compliance, and security. The accounting of these mismatches in the IT environment between what is, what should never be, and what was intended is called reconciliation.

Many enterprises make the attempt to reconcile changes manually; however, this can be an enormously time-consuming task that is often executed at a high level or incompletely.

Automated Change Reconciliation

The solution to this misalignment is to use AI-driven automation to discover, validate and reconcile actual changes before there is a problem.

Evolven Change Manifests (ECMs) address this by automatically generating a list of the changes that have been deployed in a release. The manifest is used for change reconciliation with approved change requests and for validation of actual changes. Integration with commonly used Service Desk tools such as ServiceNow is provided. The ECM can be automatically captured through the CICD pipeline or from non-automated pre-production deployments. The ECM is attached to corresponding change requests. Using ECM, Evolven will: automatically capture and manage detailed expected results of each change request or deployment, identify extra changes that were not initially planned and approved but were deployed anyway, and detect mismatch changes deployed on correct CIs but with a value different from the expected one, detect missing changes that were expected but were never deployed, and perform predictive analysis on expected changes before the final production deployment.

An orchestrated review process is kicked off that permits stakeholders in the reconciliation process to come to a conclusion regarding unauthorized and potentially authorized changes. There is also a feedback loop for rapid resolution. See Figure 1.

Change reconciliation in non-automated environments (not using CICD) is provided ensuring there is a consistent awareness of change across the enterprise regardless of the level of automation.

Figure 1: Intelligently Automate Change Reconciliation

Evolven 7.5 groups changes together; unauthorized changes, slight deviations labeled as potentially authorized, and performed an automated reconciliation of approved and authorized changes. Support for recognizing standard, pre-approved changes is provided and important as 60-80% of changes that happen in the enterprise are standard. Related changes are clustered together in Service Desk tickets to help simplify the review process.

Users with the proper authority can rapidly escalate, investigate, or verify and approve unauthorized changes to complete the reconciliation process.

Operational Data Analytics

The change and configuration data captured by Evolven is available for easy ad-hoc or programmatic access and utilization. These queries enable the user to better understand the actual IT environment and uncover unexpected inconsistencies or potential trouble spots before there is an impact. Search also allows accessing results of the analytics such as comparison and consistency results. This data includes asset inventory, patch levels, cloud configuration data such as AWS, Azure, GCP, and Kubernetes resources and their attributes, certificate data, and much more.

The repository data includes both raw and analyzed data and is accessible using UI entered queries with logical operators for instant correlation. For example, “Find all high-risk changes in production over the last 8 hours”. In this example, AI is used to determine what changes are “high risk” and thus the manual task of creating (guessing) high-water marks that ultimately prove unhelpful is avoided. Analysis of the data covers change risks, configuration drift, environment consistency, compliance status, root cause analysis, and more. An API can be auto-generated for each query to extract the target data programmatically. The saved searches can be reused as an easy to create the foundation for reports and dashboards. See figure 2.

Figure 2: Sample query to find high-risk changes

Integration

Integration of Evolven with your IT toolchain has been streamlined and made accessible via the UI. An extensive set of templates for integration can be selected from the UI. These can be used to set up an integration without any coding. The user fills in the blanks for parameters such as authorization, data ingestion, and administration parameters following the instructions in a built-in documentation window.

In addition, any query entered via the search UI can generate a REST call that can be initiated by an external application to extract data at runtime. This capability enables easy integration into almost any modern toolchain. See figure 3.

Figure 3: UI set up for easy integration

In Summary

The new capabilities in Evolven 7.5 will make it easier for users to handle the unexpected across all IT assets subject to change. This release makes it straightforward for users to manage for example code, libraries, configuration, database, and certificate uncertainty and at the same time prevent problems, reduce risk, and resolve problems related to change. Reconciliation between the expected and unexpected makes it possible to move from a reactive response to problems to one where IT Ops can anticipate issues, measure their risk, and take action to prevent performance, compliance, and security problems before the user experience is impacted.

Search provides the capability for enterprises to find what may have been previously unfindable other than through extraordinary efforts, rarely employed. Evolven’s powerful search and analytics unlock the real value of data and the insights hidden in it. Users can query inventory, actual change data, policy results, certificates, historical data, consistency data, cloud services, environment configurations, and much more. This provides the operational insights necessary for proactive management with the ability to prevent problems resulting from the unexpected such as security impacts from missing patches, or outages caused by certificate expiration.

Integration with the existing toolsets of IT Ops and DevOps has been streamlined with an easy-to-use UI for rapid implementation

The capabilities added and enhanced in Evolven 7.5 give IT the proactive and prescriptive capabilities to focus on what is most important: helping facilitate business innovation.

About the Author
Charley Rich
Technology Strategist