Managing IT Infrastructure Solutions and Services: What Features Matter Most?
When considering an IT infrastructure operations platform, keep in mind that service assurance is the common denominator of all features.
IT infrastructure is essential to the very existence and successful operation of a modern business. Any interruption or degradation of IT infrastructure solutions and services can cause issues ranging from benign inconveniences to much more severe consequences that have the potential to adversely affect the bottom line.
The Importance of Service Assurance Tools
The tools that provide service assurance must cater to a core set of capabilities in order to manage the IT operations infrastructure. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll refer to this tool ecosystem as the IT ops “platform.”
Which platform features matter most? For perspective, let’s break them down in terms of the operations that are fundamental to providing service assurance.
Your IT ops platform must provide comprehensive monitoring coverage. Any gaps in visibility only compound the issues around uptime and service delivery. After all, you can’t fix what you can’t see.
It is difficult if not impossible to address issues without knowing the current state of the infrastructure. The platform must have the ability to keep up with the topology as it changes. The infrastructure is in a constant state of flux as new elements are added, new services are provisioned and others are decommissioned.
The IT infrastructure solutions and services delivery supply chain can be complex, traversing multiple layers of infrastructure. Your platform must likewise be able to provide top-to-bottom monitoring of the delivery stack. Without effective monitoring capabilities, it is not possible to effect remediation when things go awry. Therefore, effective monitoring directly impacts the ability to provide and maintain service assurance.
As the technology that supports IT infrastructure solutions and services evolve, the level of complexity involved in managing the infrastructure also escalates. The growth and maturity of artificial intelligence technology are now able to provide real-world benefits in the world of IT operations. The term artificial intelligence for IT operations, or AIOps, is commonly used to refer to this particular application of AI.
Your IT ops platform must have the ability to ingest widely diverse sets of data such as application/performance metrics, event/flow, and topology information. In addition to storing this information, it is also necessary to perform some level of data normalization and organization in order for AIOps to deliver tangible results.
Platforms that leverage AIOps depend on the use of machine learning techniques to glean insights from these large data sets. As a result, AIOps platforms require a suitable data repository that can accommodate the scale of these needs.
AIOps provides insights into the state of the infrastructure that, once known, can then be acted upon. This dramatically improves the ability to stay on top of issues as they occur and, in some cases, even before they manifest themselves. This leads to truly proactive service assurance capabilities.
Compatibility & Interoperability
IT infrastructure solutions and services are hybrid in nature. They comprise elements from the past, present and future. Infrastructure components that have previously provided services persist, even as new and evolving technologies are incorporated. The IT ops platform must maintain backward compatibility with legacy equipment and, at the same time, be able to manage newer technologies as they are deployed.
The advent of widespread virtualization is now making software-defined data centers (SDDCs) possible. SDDCs bring about efficiencies and agility in the manner in which services are provisioned, advancing how infrastructure elements are managed. With SDDCs, management and provisioning are driven by orchestration. The service assurance platform must be able to work with these new technologies.
Automations have long been used to take the monotony and error out of repeatable tasks. Today’s advanced automations are sophisticated enough to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of IT ops platforms.
They provide features that make it possible to easily add automation as required. They maintain automation libraries in order to propagate existing workflows and to capture institutional knowledge. With the advent of AIOps and SDDC, orchestration layers can now conduct proactive remediation and on-demand provisioning of services.
The complexity of the service delivery stack makes it very difficult to understand the true impact of an issue in the infrastructure. IT ops platforms must be able to provide a picture of the business services that the infrastructure is supporting.
Today’s platforms provide the ability to rapidly determine which customers and users are affected when there is an issue with the underlying infrastructure components. This provides a real-time picture of the impact to the business, enabling IT organizations to keep their eyes on the ball. When coupled with digital experience monitoring capabilities, IT ops platforms can enhance the management of service-level agreements (SLAs).
When it comes to providing service assurance, there is no one size fits all. Every environment has its unique needs in terms of the being provided, scale, complexity and so on. IT ops platforms that manage IT infrastructure solutions and services must provide a complementary set of features to accommodate these requirements.
A poorly planned approach can rapidly lead to tool sprawl – an assortment of tools with overlapping functionality that then becomes a nightmare to manage. Platforms that provide consolidation, that are customizable and interface easily with other tools have an advantage when it comes to reducing tool sprawl.
Because they have a direct impact on service assurance, these are the features that matter most when considering requirements for IT ops platforms.