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Building Toward Unified Observability

Gartner coined the term AIOps in 2016 to describe the use of machine learning (ML) analytics technology by IT operations to improve availability, performance and efficiency. AIOps has made significant strides since then and has achieved a new level: Unified observability, which shifts IT operations from reactive monitoring to proactive IT management.

IT operations are quickly evolving. According to a recent Digitate survey, 90% of IT decision-makers across all industries plan to implement more AI and automation, and 90% of planned initiatives in IT-related AI and automation are expected to occur this year.

Getting the Technology Part Right

AI is poised to revolutionize IT Ops, ushering in an automation and intelligent management era. However, this path to the future isn’t without its challenges.

On the one hand, businesses need to get the technology part right. Observability goes beyond the scope of monitoring and requires a deeper understanding of how different components and systems interact.

Challenges for organizations include:

  • System complexity: Customers can struggle, especially when navigating how to capture, document and maintain relationships in a system of record – often a configuration management database.
  • Diverse data sets: Customers also encounter issues when defining the scope of observability, integrating data from diverse sources, and ensuring compatibility with existing tools that support varied data formats.
  • High data volume: Some applications and platforms generate gigabytes of information daily, in the form of logs, metrics and traces, while in others there are massive blind spots that require more critical attention.
  • Expectation misalignments: Some organizational stakeholders may expect instantaneous setup of a fully intelligent and autonomous system when they engage with AI-driven IT Ops. This is not how it works in practice. No tool in the market provides instantaneous results without some level of customization.

It is important to start such projects with the right set of expectations, in phases, and with different teams involved to collaborate instead of continuing to deploy their solutions in silos.

The Role of AI in Observability

AI takes observability to the next level. It can analyze vast datasets to discern patterns and anomalies, correlate the results, and then forecast and even predict potential issues.

While AI doesn’t provide an instantaneous setup of a fully intelligent system, it certainly aids in making sense of data by identifying hidden dependencies, capturing normal behavior and doing impact analysis. In case of a system failure or anomaly, AI helps IT teams automate the response, which has a major impact on system availability and performance.

The integration of AI enhances observability and improves the overall customer experience, minimizing downtime, ensuring optimal performance and preventing issues before they impact end-users.

Steps to Implement AI Successfully

Achieving unified observability and proactive IT management requires a strategic approach. Begin by analyzing existing processes and tools.

  • Conduct a thorough audit: Examine current processes, tools and workflows to identify gaps, bottlenecks and inefficiencies across environments. Involve all relevant stakeholders in this process to ensure a holistic understanding of IT.
  • Deploy your observability solution in stages: Once you have a clear overview of the processes and tools, launch a gradual deployment of a unified observability solution, allowing for adjustments and finetuning. Start with a vertical view, connecting applications with their underlying infrastructure, and later move into the horizontal axis, focusing more on a business process view. To select the data you want to ingest, focus on what provides value.
  • Upgrade with AI: Once your observability is in place, enable AI and generate insights. Allow time for the platform to collect the data necessary to create a baseline.
  • Finally, bring in automation: The objective is to give the platform the right to decide and execute the first response, which can be to send a simple notification, run a complex root cause analysis or execute self-healing actions.
    This process requires a collaborative effort, involving teams responsible for IT management, platform management, tooling and security.

What Comes After Unified Observability?

Unified observability won’t be the last stop for IT operations, but rather a stopover towards an autonomous enterprise. The idea is to reach a stage where IT systems detect and respond to issues autonomously and continuously learn and adapt to the situation or context.

The synergy of AI and observability will lead to self-healing systems. As predictive analytics become more sophisticated, there will be a complete shift from reactive to proactive IT management. Organizations can anticipate a more resilient and agile IT infrastructure that aligns with business objectives.

Before we get there, it’s key to truly embrace the process of unifying observability, AI and automation that correspond with companies’ unique IT landscapes for enhanced efficiency, improved customer experiences and futureproof IT operations.

Efrain Ruh is an AIOps expert and Field CTO of Continental Europe of Digitate, a leading provider of AI-based solutions for IT Ops. With over 15 years of experience in the IT industry, he has a strong background and expertise in IT Ops, Cloud Computing, AI/ML, Big Data and intelligent automation, as well as relevant certifications such as ITIL, PSM, and SAFe Agilist. In his current role, he provides technical leadership and consultancy to prospects, customers and partners, which involves staying abreast of emerging technologies, industry trends, and best practices in IT operations optimization.

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