As BMC tests the AIOps waters, the company seeks to find a balance in serving both the DevOps and ITIL populations
It’s clear in the enterprise IT space that artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to play a significant role in IT operations, a phenomenon known as AIOps. Often with this level of IT disruption, new entrants funded by venture capitalists flood the segment, leaving incumbents to either fend off the new rivals, cede ground or, in many cases, put an end to the threat by acquiring one or more those startup companies that pose a threat to their existence.
In the case of BMC Software, it has decided to stand its ground by aggressively investing in AIOps research and development. Most recently, BMC extended the AIOps capabilities of its existing portfolio of TrueSight IT management software through additional advanced analytics to identify patterns and anomalies within an IT environment. Other examples of BMC employing machine learning algorithms to automate IT environments tools include the ability to surface continuous recommendations for cost optimizations and automated event remediation workflows that promise to reduce the mean time to repair (MTTR).
BMC has been making a case for AIOps as far back as 2017, but it’s only now that many organizations have enough confidence in AI to start embracing AIOps beyond the pilot stage. The challenge organizations face with AIOps are both technical and cultural: It requires a significant amount of time and effort to train and tune an AI model of each customer environment.
In addition, the effectiveness of any AIOps model varies based on the complexity of the IT environment. Organizations also should be concerned about the potential impact any flawed AI model might have on IT operations—it’s one thing for a human to make a mistake, but an AI model making a mistake at a level of scale could be catastrophic.
From a cultural perspective, not every organization is yet comfortable with those AI models on current staffing, which can make some members of the IT staff less than comfortable with the whole concept.
It is early days for AIOps in DevOps processes. But the increased complexity of modern IT environments based on cloud-native technologies will force the issue within most organizations. BMC’s challenge is that while its management platform is employed widely in IT environments relying on ITIL-based frameworks, its footprint is comparatively nascent within organizations that have embraced best DevOps practices.
Bill Talbot, vice president of solutions marketing for BMC, said one of the company’s advantages is access to the massive amounts of data required to train an AI model effectively. Most startup companies in this space don’t have nearly the same depth in terms of customer base, he said. That puts BMC in a better position to employ big data analytics to identify patterns and trends across multiple customers without having to know what data came from any one specific customer, unless the customer elects to share its data with BMC.
BMC makes it a point to caution customers about rivals that make AIOps claims about their platforms but don’t actually solve a specific problem—a process known as “AIOps washing.” An AIOps platform not only needs to leverage Big Data analytics and machine learning, but it also provides the code and functionality needed to customize specific IT operations use cases, including capabilities such as automated event remediation and service resolution, optimized cost and capacity management and proactive vulnerability mitigation.
BMC Software today stands at a crossroads. The company recently brought back former longtime CEO Bob Beauchamp to run the company day to day and has made no secret of the fact it is looking for additional investors. Making a pivot to AIOps requires access to massive amounts of funding for incumbents and startups alike.
The next BMC act undoubtedly will involve employing AIOps across both DevOps and ITIL-based environments running on-premises and in the cloud. By any measure, that effort represents one of the most ambitious transformations ever attempted by any IT vendor.