Co-authored by Prenaven Naidoo
The ubiquity of online stores and virtual assistants today means that the availability of business services and speed of response has become vital to serving an ever-increasing population of customers that expect round-the-clock services. As business services are expected to be up and available round the clock, so too does the underpinning IT service bearing infrastructure (IT) needs to be running 24×7.
With expectations of being “always-on”, IT availability today can significantly impact business performance and customer experience. While IT service-bearing infrastructure is far more reliable now than in the past, outages can be difficult to avoid altogether. A decade or so ago, a server outage was a minor inconvenience, but today such outages have a material impact on revenue and customer satisfaction. For example, in Dec 2021, Netflix saw a 26% drop in customer traffic on the back of infrastructure outages at AWS.1 In 2019, when deal-hungry holiday shoppers crashed Costco’s website before Black Friday even began, the website was down for 16 hours, resulting in revenue losses estimated at $11m.2 It does not end there – dissatisfied customers are only too eager to share their stories on social media platforms, leading to a loss of reputation and potential future customers as well.
Such scale of impact that the disruption of IT services can have on a business means that the role of IT operations monitoring is gaining far greater prominence at the board level. Reactive IT operations support models are not good enough to support today’s business expectations and into the future. This is where proactive, AI, and data-driven solutions and frameworks (such as AIOps, APM, and end-to-end Observability solutions) to help ensure continuity of IT services have been gaining attention from the CIO’s office.
As companies move towards adopting advanced IT monitoring capabilities to provide more resilient and reliable business services, finding the right technology partner with a holistic approach and experience with such transformation is essential. In addition to that, we observe some common best practice considerations that enable success on this journey. These are:
- Understand the existing landscape and maturity: Over time, organizations tend to accumulate pieces of overlapping tools and capabilities for monitoring leading to an unnecessarily complex and expensive monitoring landscape. Understanding current technology compatibility, existing monitoring tools, new product features, ability to integrate, and cost of ownership will help define a solution that is fit for purpose.
- Stitch together a consolidated view for End-to-End Visibility: Only monitoring the health of servers, network, database, or individual application components is not good enough anymore. Monitoring conditions of individual IT components is the bare minimum, but it should not be the target state. Instead, organizations need to establish their specific monitoring capability that stitches together the health of critical IT components across the technology stack to create end-to-end visibility. It also ensures that future changes to such infrastructure (moves, adds, changes) result in the necessary updates to monitoring and reporting systems.
- Ensure data quality to drive confident decision making: Decision-making intelligence gained from data-driven solutions is only as good as the underlying data. Therefore, getting siloed data together from end-to-end monitoring and ensuring that it is clean, consistent, and reliable is a key success factor for any monitoring and reporting solution.
- Link IT monitoring to business success: While valuable, IT monitoring metrics like IT component availability don’t provide much value in terms of business impact like customer satisfaction or sales volumes. Business leaders only care about whether a service is delivered to the end customer. They care whether the sales are made or not. And end-users have come to expect a lot of the customer experience too. So, it is critical that visibility needs to be created by mapping business success measures to IT component and their health metrics. This ensures consistency and accuracy of mapping service-bearing infrastructure to business services. Only then can IT operations get the ability to identify and address the most critical issues when they arise.
- Design relevant visualizations: A “single” pane of glass dashboard for reporting is a good concept but has its limitations because different users in the organization need different kinds of insights. What a CIO needs to see in a dashboard to understand the health of the IT landscape is very different from what the Head of IT Service Management or the IT Operations Managers would need to effectively manage their responsibilities. These are different personas and need different visualizations, which are not served by a one-size-fits-all dashboard design. Visualizations need to be developed, keeping the audience in mind while allowing them to navigate up or down on data depending on their needs.
- Recalibrate IT Operations mindset: Traditional IT Operations support models are more geared towards reacting to incidents as they happen and trying to minimize the negative impact on the business. A more proactive and automated capability can be established using end-to-end monitoring solutions,. Trends and patterns from data can be used to develop predictions, alerts, and automated processes that can potentially prevent many incidents from happening altogether. But such an operating environment needs a review and redesign of traditional processes, roles, and responsibilities to develop an IT Operations capability that is proactive instead of reactive.
- Commit to a holistic transformation: The future state of IT Operations can’t be achieved only by implementing advanced technology using AI and automation capabilities. Having an end-to-end monitoring solution is only valuable when it is aligned with the organization’s correct data, processes, people, and technology to support its objectives. Organizations need to have an ongoing commitment to transforming their IT Operations model and undertake a journey towards gaining maturity by adopting new capabilities for the future of IT Operations.
The next article in this series will look at some models and frameworks that can be utilized while developing a proactive and advanced IT monitoring capability to support business outcomes.
Gaurav Sharma is an experienced digital consultant with deep skills in business analysis, process improvement, human centred design and Agile delivery. He has advised and enabled utilities, telecom and banking organisations adopt Cloud computing, BI and analytics, process automation, artificial intelligence, mobility and digital channel solutions.
Prenaven Naidoo is a digital enthusiast focused on co-creating outcomes with Infosys Services, Utilities, Resources and Energy clients on their digital journey, by leveraging his extensive experience in Leadership, Digital Strategy, Operating Model Design & Execution of digital initiatives.