6 Essential questions to ask when evaluating AIOps solution
Today, the average enterprise uses as many as 5 clouds and over 1,200 cloud services. COVID-19 has accelerated a surge in the development and usage of new digital technologies across the globe. Every enterprise has to transform through digitization, perhaps not just once but multiple times. Successful digital transformation initiatives rely on AIOps to enable IT to operate at the speed that modern business requires.
An ideal AIOps platform should have the following four building blocks driven by platform enablers for each building block:
1. Unified Visibility across infrastructure, applications and business transactions for IT Operations
2. Business Journey Visibility to business users and IT
3. Machine-Learning (ML) driven KPIs for business and IT decision makers
4. Automation for overall user experience and reduce IT operations costs
But every AIOps solution is built differently, so it might take some digging to validate a solution’s proficiency in the essential capabilities above. The following questions should cover all your bases. As you start to explore the solution’s features, ask yourself the following 6 essential questions:
➀ Can I discover data from my existing applications and infrastructure sources in any form using any method ?
An exceptional AIOps solution should use a wide variety of methods through which data can be ingested into the platform. The AIOps solution should be able to pull data from your existing data sources such as application and device logs, SNMP data, netflow, text files, xls files, RSS feeds, rest APIs, application transactions; at the same time, it should be able to receive data from sources by installing its own agents or third-party agents or without agents. Your AIOps solution should be able to enrich the received data so that monitoring and analytics presented to users is in terms of the enterprise business context.
Do not underestimate the need for your AIOps solution to support new data sources, configure the data sources, understand the data available and create dashboards to get the smarter insights.
➁ Can I monitor both “East-West” and “North-South” of applications in our customer’s transaction journey in business context?
An exceptional AIOps solution should provide a real-time, out-of-box view of the application experience and segmentation at each step of the customer journey across multi -applications flows, multi-infrastructure touch points (North-South) and within an application’s components such as application servers, databases, network (East-West) while traversing through different devices, browsers, and geographies.
As a result, you can locate bottlenecks in the customer experience with in-context drill-downs right from within the Customer Journey Map, simplifying deployment of additional resources as traffic increases.
➂ Can I easily understand and correlate business and technical declines of our customer’s business transactions?
Your business may be enabling your customers with multiple methods of doing business with your systems – think banking and financial services, eCommerce, healthcare – and they are the backbone of your digital business. Each method of enabling business, results in different routes of transactions, and therefore your AIOps solution should be able to correlate and abstract the issues – the issues could be a result of business declines as a result of user errors or technical declines as a result of issues in the infrastructure. An exceptional AIOps solution should help reduce the business and technical declines by providing you real-time visibility of your transactions end-to-end.
The transactions volume trend, peak-hour transactions trend, turn-around-time to process a transaction and the detailed view of technical/business declines are examples of why an exceptional AIOps solution really matters to help grow your business at scale.
➃ Can I quickly identify and isolate the root-cause of application and infrastructure problems?
An exceptional AIOps solution should be able to proactively help your IT operations teams (Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 support teams) identify abnormal behaviors in your applications and infrastructure, provide useful alerts prior to a potential business impacting failure. End User Monitoring, Application Mapping and Transaction Profiling are important – but these capabilities will only help you isolate performance pain, not resolve. Your AIOps solution should enable a context-aware approach to detect interdependent events across time, processes, hosts, services, applications, and both north-south and east-west topological monitoring perspectives.
For example, by monitoring the CPU usage of all critical servers, when the average CPU usage goes above a certain threshold, your operations teams will want to get notified. Proactive alerts will be good when there is an abnormal spike in memory usage of an application while there are no or minimal number of requests coming into the server as per application logs.
An exceptional AIOps solution should help your organization attain RCA (Root Cause Analysis) maturity from component-centric RCA -> service-centric RCA -> proactive RCA -> automated resolutions and help reduce your organization’s MTTR (Mean-Time-To-Resolution) metric.
➄ How do I facilitate automated issue remediations?
An exceptional AIOps solution should employ a variety of anomaly detections to identify items and events which do not conform to the expected pattern or other items in a dataset. For example, the anomalous items will translate to some kind of problem such as bank fraud, abnormal process activity, a structural defect. An exceptional AIOps solution can help you automatically run defined action to resolve emerging issues before they impact the business. For example, proactive capacity planning and facilitating cloud auto-scaling to automatically provide extra capacity for specific peak times is a requirement every organization should be planning ahead.
➅ How do I scale my monitoring solution to keep pace with the business growth of transactions, applications, private and public cloud infrastructures?
A flexible, scalable, intelligent AIOps platform is the key foundation to support your business growth. As your digital business grows in the number of customer transactions, number of users, number of channels and partners, your application infrastructure and big data analytics will increase in complexity as well. An exceptional AIOps platform should be flexible and scalable to support the increasing needs of data collection and provide you pre-packaged and custom ML models to enable KPIs such as User Experience Index (UEI), Operational Performance Index (OPI), and ISP Index.
An exceptional AIOps solution should ensure you are investing in a solution that can help you meet the unified visibility challenges of today and tomorrow.
Investing in an AIOps solution is a critical step in ensuring your applications and infrastructure continue to meet the expectations of your customers, partners and employees. During the evaluation or proof-of-value process, it is important to hold AIOps solution providers accountable for showing how their tools can support your individual use cases and the challenges you’re facing in your industry. Here is the summary of 6 essential questions:
1. Can I discover data from my existing applications and infrastructure sources in any form using any method ?
2. Can I monitor both “East-West” and “North-South” of applications in our customer’s transaction journey in business context?
3. Can I easily understand and correlate business and technical declines of my business transactions?
4. Can I quickly identify and isolate the root-cause of application and infrastructure problems?
5. How do I facilitate automated issue remediations?
6. How do I scale my monitoring solution to keep pace with the business growth of transactions, applications, private and public cloud infrastructures?
By asking the right questions, you’ll be able to pinpoint which AIOps solutions offer the breadth and depth of capabilities needed to support the needs of your organization — both today, and every step of the way along your digital transformation journey.
✍ Srikanth Narasimhan, the author of the article, is a Technical Advisor @ VuNet Systems. He is an Enterprise Architect and has served as a distinguished engineer at Cisco.
VuNet Systems is a deep tech AIOPs startup revolutionizing digital transactions. VuNet’s platform vuSmartMaps™, is a next generation full stack deep observability product built using big data and ML models in innovative ways for monitoring and analytics of business journeys to provide superior customer experience. Monitoring more than 3 billion transactions per month, VuNet’s platform is improving digital payment experience and accelerating digital transformation initiatives across BFSI, FinTechs, Payment Gateways and other verticals.