ITOA Coming of Age

Gil Hecht, CEO, Continuity Software
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Gil Hecht, CEO, Continuity Software

The amount of IT operational data available to IT teams is expanding faster than ever and with it arises’ the need and desire to use this vast amount of data for better management of day-to-day operations. According to MarketsandMarkets, IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) will grow from $2.17 Bn in 2015 to $9.79 Bn by 2020, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 35.2 percent. 

“Predictive analytics takes the analysis one step forward, using past data to formulate a model of future behavior”

The demand for IT operations analytics can be seen across the board, as enterprises large and small are realizing the benefits of analyzing IT data for outage prevention, the detection of unusual behavior, resource optimization, and more. 

Although, it may not seem obvious, analytics have become an inseparable part of our day-to-day lives. What’s making analytics so powerful and useful is the evolution from descriptive analytics—using data to describe past events—to predictive analytics—using data to make accurate forecasts about future events—and even more so to prescriptive analytics – using data analysis to recommend future actions, which we should take.  

Analytics: Don’t Leave Home without Them 

Weather forecasting is one of the oldest and most common forms of predictive analytics. As weather models become more sophisticated with the use of advanced analytics, weather forecasting has become markedly more reliable. For example, we can use weather models to recommend specific actions, such as rerouting sea and air traffic to avoid severe weather, or increasing the shipment of shovels and other storm-related supplies prior to a major snowstorm. Weather information is even used by Alabama's Birmingham Zoo to predict visitor traffic and plan it’s staffing accordingly. 

GPS is another form of analytics that has become a ubiquitous part of our lives. The basic descriptive navigation provides directions from point A to point B. The predictive form of navigation analytics tells us how long it will take to get to our destination given the current and expected traffic patterns. Prescriptive analytics, on the other hand, provides the fastest route and even recommends alternative routes on the fly as new data is received. 

 How ITOA Helps IT Teams Stay Ahead of IT Issues 

The same evolution that has made analytics so useful in the day-to-day lives of every person is making ITOA an indispensable part of the IT Operations tool set.  

ITOA offers an effective approach for retrieving, reporting, and analyzing IT-related data, providing companies with key objectives for their IT operations. Additionally, ITOA solutions provide visibility into all aspects of a company’s IT operations and deliver value on several different levels. 

Descriptive ITOA: Show Me what Happened  

In a descriptive model, data from past events is analyzed in an attempt to correlate cause and effect. For example, a descriptive model may point to a loss of network capacity as the cause for a degraded response time, and based on this analysis, measures can be taken to prevent similar issues in the future. 

Predictive ITOA: Tell Me what is going to Happen 

Predictive analytics takes the analysis one step forward, using past data to formulate a model of future behavior. In addition, to analyzing past events, predictive analytics has the ability to predict how changes in IT infrastructure’s current state will impact the future stability and availability of critical business services—those that affect customers, trade partners, and employees. For example, it can identify a single point of failure in the infrastructure as well as project the potential impact on service availability. 

Prescriptive ITOA: Advise Me what Actions to Take 

Prescriptive ITOA is the most advanced stage of the IT Operations Analytics ecosystem. Based on the prediction of potential outcomes and an inference of the contributing risk factors, prescriptive analytics solutions can suggest corrective actions that will eliminate the risks and minimize the likelihood of service disruption, saving a company value time and resources. That’s where the difference between analytics and simple reporting becomes crucial: when you understand what the problem really is (as compared to only identifying its visible symptoms), you can quickly turn insight into action.  

Conclusion 

Analytics can become really powerful when used to identify trends and help executives along with IT teams gain insight into cause and effect.  

 Some of the benefits that ITOA have achieved by helping companies achieve include: 

 •Identifying single points of failure and other configuration risks while reducing the time and effort associated with pre-rollout testing 

•Quickly verifying configuration changes once in production and before they impact the business 

•Providing IT teams with actionable recommendations for applying best practices and removing availability risks 

•Measuring KPI’s that support continuous improvement to establish safer and more agile change management practices over time 

With these insights, companies can start making better decisions in order to proactively leverage opportunities and mitigate risks before they adversely impact the business. 

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