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  • Rob Coles

AI Operations (AIOps): A Report from the EAG ThinkTank

Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps)


This is a rapidly growing field that leverages machine learning and data science to automate and improve IT operations. The primary goal of AIOps is to shift from reactive IT management to a proactive approach, reducing the time and effort required to identify and resolve IT issues. This report combines insights from two leading sources in the field, Gartner and BigPanda, to provide a comprehensive overview of AIOps.


Understanding AIOps

AIOps platforms analyze telemetry and events, identifying meaningful patterns that provide insights to support proactive responses. These platforms have five key characteristics:

  1. Cross-domain data ingestion and analytics

  2. Topology assembly from implicit and explicit sources of asset relationship and dependency

  3. Correlation between related or redundant events associated with an incident

  4. Pattern recognition to detect incidents, their leading indicators, or probable root cause

  5. Association of probable remediation

Cross-domain data ingestion and analytics:

AIOps platforms are designed to ingest and analyze data from a variety of sources across different domains. This includes data from servers, network devices, applications, and more. The data can be in the form of logs, metrics, events, or traces. The ability to ingest and analyze cross-domain data allows AIOps platforms to provide a holistic view of the IT environment. This is crucial for identifying and addressing issues that span multiple domains.


Topology assembly from implicit and explicit sources of asset relationship and dependency: In a complex IT environment, understanding the relationships and dependencies between different assets is critical. AIOps platforms can assemble a topology, or a map of these relationships and dependencies, from both implicit and explicit sources. This could include configuration management databases (CMDBs), orchestration systems, and other sources. This topology helps in understanding the potential impact of an issue and in identifying the root cause when problems arise.


Correlation between related or redundant events associated with an incident:

In any IT environment, a single incident can trigger a multitude of events and alerts. Without correlation, this can lead to alert fatigue and make it difficult to identify the root cause of the problem. AIOps platforms use machine learning algorithms to correlate related or redundant events, reducing noise and making incident management more manageable.


Pattern recognition to detect incidents, their leading indicators, or root cause:

AIOps platforms use advanced machine learning algorithms for pattern recognition. These algorithms analyze the ingested data and identify patterns that could indicate an incident or its potential root cause. This allows IT teams to proactively address issues before they escalate and cause significant disruption.


Association of probable remediation:

Once an issue has been identified, the next step is to resolve it. AIOps platforms can associate incidents with probable remediation actions based on past incidents and their resolutions. This can significantly speed up the resolution process and reduce downtime.


In summary, AIOps platforms leverage machine learning and data analytics to automate and enhance various aspects of IT operations. They provide a proactive approach to incident management, helping organizations minimize downtime and improve overall operational efficiency.


The Value of AIOps

One of the main barriers to implementing AIOps platforms is the difficulty measuring their value and a lack of understanding of benefits derived. However, AIOps platform adoption is growing rapidly across enterprises. Enterprises are replacing some traditional monitoring tool categories by embedding them within AIOps platforms. For example, virtual network monitoring, observability, and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) monitoring are being done entirely within AIOps platforms, especially if the enterprise has its entire IT footprint in the cloud.


Measuring the Value of AIOps: The value of AIOps can be challenging to measure due to its broad impact on IT operations. AIOps platforms provide benefits such as reduced downtime, improved operational efficiency, and enhanced service quality. However, quantifying these benefits can be difficult because they often involve indirect cost savings or improvements in areas like customer satisfaction or employee productivity. Despite these challenges, there are ways to measure the value of AIOps. For instance, organizations can track metrics like the reduction in mean time to resolution (MTTR), the decrease in the number of incidents, or the improvement in system availability.


Understanding the Benefits of AIOps: AIOps platforms offer several benefits that can significantly improve IT operations. They can automate routine tasks, freeing up IT staff to focus on more strategic initiatives. They can also provide predictive insights, allowing IT teams to proactively address issues before they cause significant problems. Furthermore, AIOps platforms can help organizations manage the increasing complexity of their IT environments, particularly as they adopt technologies like cloud computing and microservices.


AIOps Adoption Across Enterprises: Despite the challenges in measuring their value, AIOps platforms are being rapidly adopted across enterprises. This is largely due to the increasing complexity of IT environments and the growing need for automation and predictive insights. Enterprises are finding that traditional monitoring tools are no longer sufficient to manage their complex IT landscapes. As a result, they are replacing these tools with AIOps platforms, which can provide a more holistic and proactive approach to IT operations.


AIOps and Cloud Monitoring: AIOps is particularly valuable for enterprises that have their entire IT footprint in the cloud. These enterprises often have to manage complex, dynamic, and distributed IT environments. Traditional monitoring tools can struggle to keep up with the pace of change in these environments. AIOps platforms, on the other hand, can ingest and analyze data from across the cloud environment, providing real-time insights and predictive analytics. This makes them an ideal solution for cloud monitoring, including virtual network monitoring, observability, and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) monitoring.


In conclusion, while measuring the value of AIOps can be challenging, the benefits it provides are driving its rapid adoption across enterprises. As IT environments continue to grow in complexity, the demand for AIOps is likely to increase.


Gartner's Recommendations for Implementing AIOps

Focus on tangible and incremental business outcomes: Gartner suggests that organizations should concentrate on achieving measurable and step-by-step business results when implementing AIOps. This means focusing on specific use cases that can deliver quantifiable value, rather than getting caught up in the hype around AIOps.


Leverage AIOps for specific scenarios: AIOps platforms can be particularly effective in certain scenarios, such as adaptive anomaly detection or system-centric anomaly detection. These scenarios involve identifying unusual patterns or behaviors in the IT environment, which can be indicative of potential issues.


Target productivity outcomes: AIOps platforms can significantly enhance productivity by automating routine tasks and providing predictive insights. This can help improve workflows and increase the efficiency of IT personnel.


Create an operations model to provide insights as a service: Gartner recommends developing an operational model that can provide metadata and insights as a service to different departments. This can help align IT operations with business objectives and enable better decision-making across the organization.


BigPanda's Approach to AIOps

BigPanda, a provider of AIOps solutions, highlights the importance of understanding the relationships between IT assets, applications, and services. Their AIOps platform can integrate data from various sources to create a real-time, up-to-date topology model. This model provides a comprehensive view of the IT environment, making it easier to understand the dependencies and connections between different IT assets. In the event of an outage, this can help IT Operations teams identify the root cause more quickly and reduce downtime.


Summary

Implementing AIOps effectively requires a strategic approach that focuses on tangible business outcomes, leverages AIOps for specific use cases, targets productivity improvements, and provides insights as a service to different departments. Providers like BigPanda offer solutions that can help organizations understand their complex IT environments and respond more effectively to issues. By following these recommendations and leveraging the capabilities of AIOps platforms, organizations can enhance their IT operations and deliver greater value to the business


Conclusion

AIOps is a promising field that can significantly improve IT operations by automating tasks and providing valuable insights. As the field continues to grow and mature, it's important for businesses to understand the value and potential of AIOps and to consider how it can be integrated into their own IT operations.


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