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FixStream AIOps Platform Increases the Operational Efficiency of Your Virtualized Environment


Bishnu Nayak, CTO

In my previous job as an executive architect for a Tier 1 telco, I was spearheading the IT modernization and legacy transformation program. Virtualization and cloud enablement were two key ingredients of the transformation strategy, in addition to refactoring enterprise applications to make them cloud-ready. During the migration from legacy to virtualization, we had to assemble a big, cross-functional team to manually extract significant amounts of data from various systems to understand existing applications’ footprints, dependencies across the infrastructure stack to determine business impact, plan for migration, and ensure that performance of mission critical applications wouldn’t be impacted post-migration to virtualization. The IT infrastructure team had an equally tough task on their hands: workload allocation and placement and making sure there were adequate data points and visibility that would help them properly manage the multi-tenant virtualized environment. We successfully migrated a massive number of business applications from legacy to virtualization on VMWare technologies, but it took a huge number of man hours as we were lacking a platform that could automate the planning, execution, and validation activities.

One of the primary reasons I decided to join FixStream was to be a part of the vision to solve similar industry-recognized problems that challenge enterprise IT with new technology adoption as the underlying IT stack becomes more hybrid and distributed. FixStream’s emerging AIOps platform provides the much needed “single-pane-of-glass” view into the complex IT infrastructure that encompasses fragmented and distributed multi-vendor, multi-domain technologies – legacy, virtualization, hybrid cloud, containers, etc.

Per Gartner, AIOps (Algorithmic IT Operations) is a $1B market segment, growing at over 20% CAGR, driven by the critical need to enable I&O leaders to meet the proactive, personal and dynamic demands of digital business by transforming the very nature of IT operations work via unprecedented, automated insight.

AIOps platforms utilize big data, modern machine learning and other advanced analytics technologies to directly and indirectly enhance IT operations (monitoring, automation and service desk) functions with proactive, personal and dynamic insight.

In today’s environment, there are many vendors providing enterprise virtualization solutions, including VMWare, Microsoft, Xen, Oracle, and Openstack. VMWare has been the predominant leader for quite some time. Most enterprises are in a place today where multiple vendor solutions are in use, requiring expertise in different technologies to support day-to-day operations to ensure critical business functions run with the needed SLA.

FixStream’s AIOps platform built on big data technologies solves this problem by correlating cross-domain, cross-vendor entities in context with business application, device group and other operational contexts specific to enterprises. AIOps is intended to benefit infrastructure, application, as well as business operations teams, with a single converged platform built from the ground up, unlike legacy solutions built using various tools.

FixStream’s solution for the virtualization environment demonstrates the following capabilities:

  1. Auto-discovery – “Know what you don’t know in timely manner.” One of the biggest challenges in the virtualized environment is the difficulty of knowing/understanding the application and infrastructure resources due to dynamic design concepts such as vMotion and workload auto-scaling. FixStream auto-discovers the virtual infrastructure (VMs, hypervisors, vswitches, vLANs etc.) as well as application service entities deployed and dependent on those entities and keeps them up to date. Thus, you get a reliable, dynamic inventory which becomes the foundational building block for operations activities.
  2. Topology – “Know how things are connected and the dependencies and relationships between them.” Think of the days when people used to use paper maps to navigate their way from point A to B, and how technology has evolved to the point where Google Maps reliably navigates you across your points of interests, reducing noise and getting you to your destination faster and more reliably. The traditional way of managing your network topology via Visio diagram simply doesn’t work in virtualized environment, as things change quite often – a few times a day, sometimes in minutes. FixStream topology in the virtualized environment shows the dynamic view of how VMs connect with virtual networks such as vswitch, VLAN and to the physical hypervisor, network, and storage layers.  It does so by collecting data from vCenter, directly from VMs, the physical layer in a VMWare environment.
  3. Application Discovery and Mapping (FixStream iMAN) – “Know the locality of your critical business services.” Dependency mapping between application services and VMs and virtual network requires you to keep up with the frequent changes and compute dynamic mapping. The FixStream platform accomplishes this by periodically discovering application service instances, flows and mapping those to VMs, vSwitches, and VLANs they are associated with and keeps the dependency up to date. This is like Google Maps for your application which is then further correlated with real-time health and performance information for all entities in the map.
  4. Performance HeatMap – “Know where your available capacities are without manual effort. FixStream creates a performance HeatMap across all entities in a virtualized environment to represent their relative utilization in color coding using various parameters such as CPU, memory and disk. The HeatMap can be recalculated based on specific requirements with workload placement and resource allocation.
  5. Data Explorer/Analytics – “Know the hierarchical relationship between cross-domain entities and automate the compliance reporting.” FixStream provides an intuitive data explorer view for the users to pull auditing and compliance reports just with two to three clicks. For example – you want to create a report to know compute, network, storage vendors, platform, and version number for critical business applications. The output is up to date and reflects the state of the environment, which is extremely reliable for auditing and compliance needs.

With the above technical capabilities, FixStream’s operational analytics platform ensures the delivery of following ROI benefits for enterprises who are looking for a single platform to manage their virtualized environment:

  • Reduce the MTTR from hours to minutes – With topology analysis, flow2path analytics, historic event correlation, and anomaly detection, customers using FixStream have reportedly reduced MTTR from multiple hours to minutes.
  • Optimize resource allocation in virtualized environment – FixStream’s performance heatmap provides required insight for operations teams to optimally allocate application workload while reducing CAPEX by repurposing unused capacity to services that need them.
  • Reduce business risk in moving to virtualized infrastructure – FixStream’s discovery and dependency mapping across legacy and virtualized infrastructure provides you with reliable data to automate migration planning and significantly reduce the number of FTEs required for the task as well as business risk.
  • Reduce FTE for IT Compliance and Auditing – Compliance reporting and auditing activities are more cumbersome and require more man hours than the legacy environment due to the dynamic nature of the data required to be aggregated. The FixStream analytics/data explorer view provides an automated way to pull these reports while keeping the data up to date, significantly reducing the FTEs needed for the task.

Reflecting back to my previous job and challenges, I am convinced that if we had a platform like FixStream, it would have helped tremendously with not only cutting down the duration of migration to virtualization, but also optimizing resources, resulting in significant savings for the enterprise as well as the creation of efficient workload placement for new business services.

I am happy to announce that we will be participating in the VMworld Conference in Las Vegas from Aug. 27 through 30. If you would like to see the industry recognized FixStream platform in action and how it can help you gain control of your virtualized environment, stop by our booth 700 O, in the New Innovator Area. For more information, check out the details of our solution.

I worked at Cisco for 20 years, calling on some of the largest Service Provider and Enterprise organizations in the world, delivering complex IT and telecom solutions to thousands of customers. One of the biggest challenges they faced was understanding the relationship between applications and infrastructure. In the past few years, this is even more difficult as application environments are shared, distributed, multi-tiered, virtualized, containerized and now run in a hybrid cloud.

IT organizations spend millions for full end-to-end visibility but most find solutions lacking because each vendor defines its own “end-to-end”. One tool might show only the entire network, another tool might produce only service performance metrics, other tools might show servers, database, and application services but not the network or the end-user transactions processed by the applications. Some are domain-specific and others are vendor-specific. As a result, determining the root cause of an application performance problem can take hours, sometimes days; migration and changes may affect unexpected applications because of some unknown dependency, and compliance reporting is a nightmare.

Seeing customers face these challenges, and wanting to help them, I started FixStream.

With our Meridian product, data is ingested by Data Collector Modules (DCM) and a Normalization Correlation Engine (NCE), resulting in an Algorithmic IT Operations (AIOps)
Platform that correlates, analyzes and visualizes multi-domain, multi-vendor hybrid IT environments.

With Meridian, you have visibility you can’t get anywhere else. From a converged view of the health of your entire application environment, to business transactions, applications, and infrastructure entities, we’ve helped customers reduce MTTR from hours/days to minutes, as well as de-risk migration and automate compliance.

Sounds too good to be true? We get that comment a lot–but you can find out for yourself–visit our site, read this EMA interview with a customer, or request a demo.

And stay tuned–over the next few weeks we will dive deeper into our patented Flow2PathTM Analytics, our ITOA ecosystem connectors and much more.

Sameer Padhye
FixStream
CEO & Founder

Full Speed Ahead in 2016

When I was having my morning coffee in Times square NYC during the 2015 holiday break, I was reflecting on the tremendous progress we made with Meridian last year and all the things we have planned for 2016. I could only see and feel positive signs and excitement. 2015 was a very successful year for us as we positioned the technology, architecture and product features to create a true converged analytics and visualization platform for IT operations in Meridian.

Hundreds of IT “Stars” Join FixStream and Partners for Star Wars World Premiere

What a night! For weeks, we’ve been working on our Star Wars event to coordinate all the details.  We had over two hundred tickets to distribute and expected chaos at the theater. And it was pretty crazy in a fun way. The line for general admissions stretched a quarter mile around the theatre with people in camping chairs and sleeping bags and dressed as Wookies and Ewoks and Sith Lords. I even saw a Stormtrooper in full gear. So I’m thankful we got our own dedicated line.  We had a star-studded cast of guests with many CXO’s, CIOs and senior IT leaders from companies all over Silicon Valley and the Bay Area. It was really an honor for us to share time with such a group and share our vision for the future of IT Operations.

Mr Spock for IT Operations?

It’s fascinating to see that the topic of data science is becoming a matter of public debate. I heard on NPR last night that the White House has appointed a Chief Data Scientist. His name is DJ Patil. He did a short interview with Kai Ryssdal, the host of Marketplace.  Kai points out that “we’ve been collecting data for years and years and years but it seems like we’re only now recently absorbing the lessons and what we can do with it.” He asks DJ: ”What took us so long?” DJ responds with, “The most important thing we can learn in life is through watching Star Trek. There’s Spock on the bridge. He’s not in some way back office. In the modern board room or in policy conversations why isn’t there a Spock on the bridge?” Interesting question.

Converged Visibility for IT Operations Requires A New Platform

How many of you depend on your favorite navigation app like Waze or Google Maps? I do. Because it gives me everything that I need in real time, from traffic jams or accidents. It will even show you other kinds of hazards like police cars. It does this by correlating and visualizing lots of disconnected data from lots of end points. There is a pressing need for a “Waze-like” platform in the cloud operations domain.

Whiskey and Ops

The best startup ideas come through distilling input from early advisors, partners and customers. It’s like making fine bourbon or whiskey where the best flavor comes from the hops and the oak barrels they’re aged in. We’ve been refining FixStream Meridian 1.0 through hundreds of feedback sessions.  I want to build on a few things Sameer and Bishnu mentioned in their recent blogs about what we’re hearing.

Aha! Visibility Opens the Flood Gate

At FixStream I spend 50% of my time talking with customers, finding out their needs and showing them what our Meridian platform can do for them. Typically, I talk with CIOs and the high-level decision makers within the IT domain. These are people who manage their infrastructure, their applications – the people who are responsible for the whole information aspect of their business.  In virtually every case there’s an “AHA!” moment when the customer sees the visual aspect of what we’re building – and I can see their whole perspective on IT management change. It’s as if someone just opened the flood gate. Most of them quickly say: “I want to try it!” or “I want to deploy it.”

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