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Transforming IT Operations Through AIOps-Powered Data Correlation and Visualization

By Sameer Padhye

Originally Posted in Data Center Journal

The digital transformation across enterprises and industries has not only accelerated the pace of business. It’s also led to more organizations adopting more connected applications. That has created greater reliance on underlying enterprise networks on which these critical business applications run. The infrastructure is becoming more distributed, heterogeneous, intelligent, open, and virtualized to support the growth, agility, and scale of the business applications.

With pressure on to deliver solutions as quickly as possible, application architecture is changing to adopt newer technologies such as containers. Containers, with their ability to bundle applications and associated software libraries, enable developers to create “build once, run anywhere” code, for portable applications. It’s easy to understand their popularity. Over 2/3’s of organizations who adopt containers achieve greater developer efficiency, according to a Forrester study. That allows faster deployment of the application entities in multiple data center and cloud environments, which can scale dynamically. (In October 2017, DockerCon Europe reported that 24 billion containers have been downloaded.)

Diverse Systems Create Complexity – and Problems

Business network elements frequently come from a wide variety of hardware and software suppliers. And these networks are only becoming more diverse given the movement by business networking professionals to avoid vendor lock-in, embrace open architectures, and use best-of-breed solutions.

In this heterogenous dynamic application environment, changes can happen very abruptly and obliquely. Using legacy techniques to track the changes and correlate the events in this type of system environment is very challenging. Manual processing of massive amounts of data – which is dynamic across the stacks – to identify patterns, anomaly scenarios, and predict capacity requirements is almost impossible. So much system noise makes it extremely difficult to uncover and resolve the incidents that are impacting system performance. That, in turn, poses tremendous business risks and hinders business innovation.

Finding Insight in a Mountain of Data

It’s tedious and time-consuming for your IT Operations teams to comb through all that data to find useful insights that could improve system reliability and performance. Instead, consider an Artificial Intelligence platform for IT Operations (AIOps) solution that combines the power of machine learning with the ability to auto-discover and correlate entities across critical layers of digital business – business, application, and infrastructure.

AIOps-powered auto-discovery and machine learning can uncover, correlate and analyze all the data from multiple enterprise application and infrastructure domains quickly and accurately, providing visibility into application and infrastructure vulnerabilities. Using machine-learning algorithms to detect patterns and eventually predict potential outages, AIOps can help IT workers thwart system failures, security issues, and performance bottlenecks, so IT departments can enable business continuity and customer satisfaction.  

Augment your IT Staff with AIOps

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are not a replacement for people in this scenario. Rather, they help humans perform day to day IT operational tasks such as troubleshooting, capacity management, migration, and planning. Also, AIOps can offload many menial error-prone tasks from your IT employees, enabling them to focus on more strategic, higher-level activities that improve business operations.

“Most recent advances in AI have been achieved by applying machine learning to very large data sets,” notes McKinsey & Co. “Machine-learning algorithms detect patterns and learn how to make predictions and recommendations by processing data and experiences, rather than by receiving explicit programming instruction. The algorithms also adapt in response to new data and experiences to improve efficacy over time.”

Data Correlation Feeds Predictive Analytics

Machine learning can correlate and analyze data from multiple enterprise application and infrastructure domains, dealing with the volume, velocity, and varieties of data generated. It can uncover patterns to show what has occurred. It can use current conditions and past learning to spot exceptions and predict the future. Machine learning can even offer suggestions on what to do in various scenarios.

AIOps platforms leverage machine learning to deliver AI capabilities for IT operations. Here are some interesting use cases.

  • Multivariate anomaly detection can identify anomaly scenarios across various dependent entities. Such anomalies may signal that a planned or unplanned business event has taken place. For example, a multivariate anomaly group may represent an unplanned event like a DDoS cyberattack or a planned business effort such as Black Friday event.
  • A time-series sequential pattern detection algorithm can predict business outages triggered by events anywhere in the stack business functions are deployed.
  • It’s also possible to use AI and machine learning to predict when you’ll run out of capacity. For example, it could signal a potential lack of storage disk volume and excessive network bandwidth use of a router. Such information helps IT experts do proactive capacity planning to better meet business needs.

Improved System Performance

Machine learning automates IT operations and can notify operations teams of potential business outages before they happen. It also can detect security issues, identify infrastructure performance bottlenecks, and recommend capacity augmentation and optimization.

IT teams can then set systems to trigger actions for remediation. Executing remediation scripts or integrating with other orchestration and automation tools to take actions minimizes human tasks.

By proactively detecting and fixing system issues with AIOps, you can enable business continuity and assure customer satisfaction. In the age of digital transformation, such capabilities and AIOps solutions are an absolute must.

With machine learning, IT staff can continually and completely look for traffic exceptions. As a result, IT experts can be far more effective in preventing and quickly responding to cyberattacks. So, businesses can stay up and running, and stay out of the headlines.

AI – Driving Digital Transformation Forward

These are just a few reasons why AI and machine learning have become key components of digital transformation. And that’s only going to accelerate moving forward.

“During the next few years, the technologies associated with this [digital transformation] wave — including artificial intelligence, cloud computing, online interface design, the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, cyberwarfare, robotics, and data analytics — will advance and amplify one another’s impact,” note PwC analysts Leslie H. Moeller, Nicholas Hodson, and Martina Sangin.

Many businesses are already on board with AI, and others are planning to implement it. Forrester Research says more than half of organizations already have implemented some form of an AI project. And it says another 20 percent are planning AI projects in the near future.

Machine Learning – the Air Traffic Control System for Your Data

Machine learning is to network operations as air traffic control is to airline operations. Consider that each hour of the day, there are about 5,000 airplanes flying in the sky just within the U.S.  With that much air traffic, using manual processes to track the planes as they move around would be nearly impossible and just plain dangerous. So instead, we use air traffic controllers to manage the chaos. The air traffic control system helps experts keep track of all the traffic (airplanes) among the different domains (various airports and airlines). By bringing together the various data points and presenting a complete view of what’s happening, air traffic control helps avoid mishaps and enables smoother traffic flow.

Machine learning likewise enables data correlation and analytics. That way, IT experts can keep the network and its applications running safely and on time. And that allows organizations to deliver better and safer customer experiences, make better use of their human and technological resources, and keep their applications and businesses moving forward.

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