AIOps and automation: On the path to autonomous, self-healing IT
Today’s push for digital transformation and business agility mandates that companies innovate to keep up with the pack and remain competitive. This innovation requires the adoption of new technologies that help increase efficiency, draw more ROI from existing processes, improve customer experience and enhance speed and performance.
In order to be a change agent within the business, IT needs the time and space to drive growth, which is often challenging. In fact, Gartner estimates that most IT teams spend 85% of their time simply keeping the lights on. This isn’t surprising given the fundamental role IT plays in managing core processes to keep business flowing. They are under pressure to keep infrastructure and applications running smoothly and to meet rising expectations for always-on accessibility and increasingly high performance.
Even while focusing on uptime, IT teams are still likely to encounter barriers to success. Complexity has grown exponentially with the ever-increasing number and variety of technologies comprising today’s IT infrastructure. Meanwhile, an overwhelming influx of monitoring, log, event, and other types of data — not to mention thousands of daily alarms — make it impossible for overstretched and under-resourced IT teams to know where to focus their attention. This is where transformative new technologies such as AIOps and automation can be real game changers.
Introducing: AIOps, plus the automation handshake
AIOps, or artificial intelligence for IT operations, enables organisations to streamline management of complex, hybrid IT environments while improving efficiency and doing more with less. These solutions leverage machine learning (ML) and advanced analytics to ingest and analyse large volumes of data from many sources throughout the infrastructure to deliver unprecedented visibility into infrastructure health, as well as event correlation, problem diagnosis, service management and even predictive capabilities.
“Complexity has grown exponentially with the ever-increasing number and variety of technologies comprising today’s IT infrastructure”
AIOps can quickly assimilate and contextualise vast quantities of data in many formats to identify issues, patterns and anomalies in the IT environment. When a problem does occur, AIOps provides insight into the root cause, allowing the issue to be quickly remediated while eliminating hours of investigation. It can also predict issues that may affect the business in the future, so proactive steps can be taken to minimise their impact.
AIOps solutions also offer auto-discovery and dependency mapping capabilities that deliver powerful visibility into the relationships between business-critical applications and underlying infrastructure, often generating detailed infrastructure maps across complex, multi-domain environments. When a device fails, teams can quickly visualise which business applications are at risk and assess the impact to the business. This is useful when prioritising issues and ensures attention is properly focused on the events that matter most.
Auto-discovery and dependency mapping have the added benefits of ensuring an organisation’s CMDBs, or configuration management databases, are always up-to-date and accurate. As a central repository to track IT devices and their relationships, CMDBs are a cornerstone of IT service management and getting them right is crucial when it comes to troubleshooting and safely making changes in the infrastructure.
While AIOps on its own can provide great benefits to a business, it’s even more powerful when combined with robust, cross-domain automation. When AIOps and intelligent automation work together within an environment, autonomous actions can be taken in response to the AI-driven insights. Together, they can take preventative actions before issues ever impact business, and improve overall performance and resiliency. This minimises the human input required, with AIOps and automation quickly and autonomously managing end-to-end processes on their own — moving closer to ‘self-healing IT’.
People and processes are crucial to successful adoption
For automation and AI initiatives to succeed, it takes more than just good technology. A cultural shift and change in people’s mindsets are critical for these solutions to be effectively integrated into an organisation’s workflow. Employees must be introduced to the benefits these technologies offer and feel confident that they are highly valued as their roles evolve and expand — in fact, without them the technologies will never see the light of day.
“For automation and AI initiatives to succeed, it takes more than just good technology. A cultural shift and change in people’s mindsets are critical for these solutions to be effectively integrated into an organisation’s workflow”
For example, FIS, a financial services technology provider, has demonstrated how creating enthusiasm among the workforce is key to driving positive change. The company nurtured the implementation of automation across the organisation by sharing quarterly updates and awarding cash prizes to those employees who nominated processes that could be automated to make work flow more efficiently. This type of grass roots activity is critical for automation to succeed, as those who are doing the daily work are best equipped to provide insight into where automation will add the most value.
Other forward-thinking businesses elect internal champions to share how technology has altered their job for the better. Highlighting the benefits of automation for individual employees is critical for attracting and retaining talent. With millennial employees — who are averse to mundane, tedious and manual tasks — illustrating how the company is investing in these transformative technologies contributes to a more enticing work environment.
Many organisations are successfully creating Automation Centres of Excellence (CoE), intended to identify strategic areas for automation across all areas of the business, unify and streamline technology decisions, establish consistency across regions, and ensure cross-functional alignment — all with the goal of significantly improving operational efficiency. A CoE helps identify which processes to automate, architects the solutions and spearheads the cultural shift. With many professionals fearing that automation will signal the end of their jobs, a key function of the CoE is to highlight the benefits of automation for every employee and to create new job opportunities leveraging automation, analytics, and IT. Done correctly, the CoE can transform sceptics into automation champions.
The promise of digital transformation
For IT teams to survive and thrive in this new era of complexity and digital evolution, the radical advancements we are witnessing in automation and AIOps are key to success and to achieving that long-awaited promise of ‘self-healing IT’. Together, these solutions can fuel agile, autonomous IT operations by delivering a closed-loop system of discovery, analysis, detection, prediction and automation, enabling infrastructure issues to be resolved before they ever have an impact.
AIOps and automation are crucial for businesses to remain competitive. This partnership will fuel a new wave of opportunities that can optimise operations and offer a more creative working environment. Work will become more strategic, requiring staff to embrace curiosity and out-of-the-box thinking — ultimately allowing employees to excel and drive innovation and transformation.