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Real-time analytics could be a saviour for IT service desk

IT operations today are facing greater challenges than ever before.

As business processes become more reliant on an organisation’s IT infrastructure which, in turn, continues to grow in size and complexity, new tools are required to help deal with the resulting increase in operations, in particular the huge volumes of data flowing through a business.

At the same time, an ever-growing satisfaction gap between end-users and IT departments signal an urgent need for an improvement in operations, and a shift in focus maintenance to innovation.

And of course, all of this is happening in preparation of the Expo 2020, where CIOs and IT heads need to find more efficient and cost-effective methods of working.

With these rising demands, using real-time analytics may prove to be a solution. Combining analytics with cognitive computing, for example, will offer the ability to analyse the vast amounts of operations data in real-time, using that data to identify trends that may prove critical to the health and performance of a company’s IT network.

IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) was recently identified by analyst firm Gartner as an emerging sector set to affect the IT industry as it continues to take shape. Analysts suggest that, in time, CIOs and senior IT operations managers using ITOA tools will be provided with a source of operational and business data, the importance of which will significantly increase over the next five years. As more of a business’s processes become entwined with its IT network, the data that they generate will be directly captured, aggregated and analysed by the ITOA solutions in place.

The Big Data analytics used by ITOA provide IT operations teams with full visibility into performance across an organisation’s IT infrastructure, automatically identifying and isolating inefficiencies, disruptions and failures across the internet, applications or servers. They provide an immediate awareness of potential issues and a rapid understanding of these issues – both from a technical point of view as well as of any potential business impact. In addition, these analytics offer easy access to the knowledge required by users to help restore or preserve the level of service that they expect.

However, rather than monitoring an organisation’s IT infrastructure, as would a traditional network performance or application performance monitoring solution, ITOA tools are able to scale to monitor whatever number of applications are running in a given production environment.

Additionally, and importantly, the insights granted by IT Operations Analytics will also allow those CIOs on a limited budget to make quicker, more informed decisions. They will be able to plan more effectively in order to ensure consistent and efficient service delivery in increasingly more complex environments.

While IT teams may appreciate the benefits of employing an ITOA solution, enjoying a substantially clearer and more insightful view of their network and all the endpoints and applications connected to it, it’s still a fact that the majority of issues are reported by the end-user. Despite the clarity of vision provided by IT Operations Analytics, there will still be a lack of visibility into how a business’s IT Services are being consumed, and how an IT infrastructure is operating from the point of view of the end-user.

By using an end-user perspective, a member of the IT team service desk could see the state of the network at any given point, as well as focusing on individual PCs. Once an issue had been identified and isolated by ITOA tools, they would then be able to see who else on the network was using a similar configuration and, knowing this, identify the likelihood of similar issues occurring elsewhere.

Migration and transformation

As well as a current an ongoing view of a business’s network, ITOA can also be used for planning migration and transformation projects which, according to leading analysts either get delayed or don’t deliver the expected benefits in 90 per cent of cases. Controlling planned changes, and pro-actively detecting and flagging unplanned changes, will allowing the risk of any downtime to be minimised.

By employing an ITOA solution with an end-user perspective, project planners and implementers will be better armed with the information they require to avoid making costly mistakes and assumptions, and to identify and resolve potential issues early enough to prevent their IT projects from becoming derailed. These possible cost savings alone may be enough to justify the use of ITOA.

In summary, not only can IT Operations Analytics enable IT teams to quickly and efficiently identify and isolate the root cause of problems within a company’s network, they can also help to anticipate these problems – even down to individual user level – so that they can be dealt with before they happen.

In an industry that is facing increasingly greater challenges – in terms of technology, resources and budgets – the arrival of IT Operations Analytics should be seen as a welcome relief.

The columnist is the Executive Vice-President of Middle East and Emerging Markets at Nexthink.