To Avoid Death by a Thousand Papercuts, Your IT Platform Should Help You See the Whole Picture
Your IT infrastructure provides the backbone that delivers the services your customers and employees depend on. Any interruption in service or even a diminished level of availability has direct consequences to your organization’s bottom line.
While serious outages are certainly disruptive, intermittent issues that gnaw away at your customers’ service delivery – not to mention their patience – can be just as devastating by virtue of their long-term impact. Remember, you have reputational risks as well as financial risks. Thousands of unaddressed issues in your infrastructure can snowball over time, like death by a thousand paper cuts. It can drive you crazy.
With the level of competition in the services marketplace these days, it does not take much to convince a less-than-satisfied customer to move to another provider.
Wrangling Your Challenges
The health and upkeep of your IT infrastructure has a direct correlation to customer satisfaction and the overall success of the business. When it comes to maintaining infrastructure uptime and delivering an acceptable level of availability, service providers are facing several challenges today:
- The complexity of the modern network, with its blend of cloud and on-premise equipment and services
- The frightening menagerie of operational management systems, tools and platforms, both old and new
- The diversity of components that make up the infrastructure, each with their unique management and monitoring specificity
- The constantly changing nature of the infrastructure, characterized by the provisioning of services and systems that are scaled up and down
- The sheer volume of events and alarms generated, which adversely impacts troubleshooting and problem remediation by with information overload
To wrangle these challenges, you need the ability to see the whole picture. It’s the common denominator underlying everything, so it’s essential to managing the situation. Seeing everything is the key to everything else that needs to happen to maintain service availability. Any gaps in visibility exponentially degrade your ability to deliver any kind of reliability
Let’s start with the nuts and bolts that make up your infrastructure. As things evolve, subsequent generations of equipment and services get cobbled together. Older equipment gets phased out and newer technologies enter the fray. To stay on top of this churn, it is essential to provide a complete picture of the topology and dependencies between discrete components.
Automation to Detect Changes
Platforms that provide automated capabilities to detect changes in the infrastructure – and provide the means to discover and monitor them – also become critical. You can no longer be effective by having a non-automated human-based system to keep track of changes, because elements and services are constantly added and removed from the infrastructure. The sheer scale of the effort makes it impractical.
Outside of determining and staying on top of the topology and interdependencies, each component has unique monitoring and configuration needs. Automated solutions can rapidly bring these components into the overall monitoring and management picture.
Gaps in visibility mean that any kind of problem becomes difficult if not impossible to diagnose, and even more difficult to remediate. But having a clear idea on the entities that constitute the infrastructure and the ability to monitor them and understand the dependencies is just the tip of the iceberg – there’s more to solving the problem.
It is also essential to put together a picture of which business services are tied to which components of the infrastructure. For this, service models are essential to IT operations management. It is no longer acceptable to just report on issues in the infrastructure. IT ops teams absolutely have to be able to determine and elaborate on the business impact of every issue in the underlying infrastructure.
Benefits of a Holistic View
Let’s talk about the benefits of a holistic view of the entire infrastructure. Problem detection and remediation are orders of magnitude better, but there’s more. Take change control, for example. Being able to see the whole picture enables you to know which business services have the potential to be affected – often before they are impacted. It enables you to inform the affected customers ahead of time, and to plan ahead so there is minimum impact to the business.
Another key area that benefits from having a cohesive understanding of the infrastructure and the business services overlay is disaster recovery and business continuity. In the face of unexpected natural and other disasters, knowing what resides where and what runs on what is invaluable to restoration and to planning for black-swan events.
Finally, of course, are the demands placed by IT governance. This comprises the tools, processes and methodologies that make it possible to align strategic business goals with IT services and infrastructure.
Talk to your IT operations provider about the state-of-the-art in tools that help you see the whole infrastructure. They make it possible to focus on what’s important and make your service availability better every day. It’s the purest path for realizing true business benefits for your organization, the customers and your employees.