How agencies can apply comprehensive automation strategies across IT operations management
December 16, 20212:03 pm
7 min read
It is not unusual for agencies to spend anywhere from $10 million to $100 million each year in IT operations management, running dozens to hundreds of applications which require a variety of tools to monitor system health, network, and application performance, detect security threats and cyber fraud, manage cloud workloads, and more. These costs fund baseline operational capabilities just to keep the lights on and maintain the status quo. Proactive and targeted investments to deliver efficiencies and performance improvements are typically funded separately as distinct initiatives above and beyond core IT operations.
One of the major IT operational costs come from licensing, installing and maintaining a set of disparate monitoring tools which generally lack interoperability and perform siloed functions like logging, server CPU and memory monitoring, resource availability and network controls. Collectively, these tools generate a massive and often unmanageable volume of data. Further, adoption of expanded monitoring capabilities will require additional personnel with niche skillsets which are expensive and difficult to find. Significant costs are then incurred to collect, analyze and interpret the vast amounts of data generated, all before a single issue or improvement opportunity is prioritized and an actionable response plan is established. With so many tools and massive volumes of data accumulated literally by the second, it’s easy for IT operations leaders to become overwhelmed. IT teams are in some cases forced to toggle between applications and teams to identify and troubleshoot problems and keep the agency’s mission on track. Adding to the challenge, many organizations often struggle to keep up with rapidly evolving technologies, which can lead to increasing inefficiencies and technical debt.
Deloitte identified the need to help IT organizations, operations professionals and leaders go beyond the status quo by simplifying their businesses with real-time, actionable insights, and to operate systems that can monitor and heal themselves. Their research indicated a majority of agencies would significantly benefit from a platform that brings together all their data under a single pane of glass. Consolidating and integrating service management, application management, infrastructure management, delivery management and cyber management data and functions not only helps to reduce the need to jump from tool to tool, but also provides a 360-degree view into agency operations. To meet this need, Deloitte built OperateEdge, an integrated and intelligent IT Operations Management platform.
“We have harvested data and insights from millions of hours of running IT operations across thousands of agencies over the last 25 years. All of this knowledge and experience was brought together in what we call OperateEdge. Our goal in OperateEdge is to bring together leading practices around IT operations management to drive greater insights, speed and customer experience across any IT operations management setting,” said Sam Kapreilian, Operate marketplace leader for Deloitte Consulting LLP. “We’ve enabled this with advanced innovations which leverage AI and machine learning to provide a predictive set of early warning and detection dashboards, as well as automated self-healing and corrective action for resolving an issue before it occurs.”
IT operations started on the mainframe 25 years ago, typically run by a few people with a very specialized skillset. Since then, it has evolved and become increasingly distributed and complex. The challenges have only increased as agencies pursue modernization initiatives and transition their applications and IT operations to the cloud. Today’s IT infrastructure is not just distributed geographically, it’s also distributed across a diverse range of tools and technologies as well. While these changes have brought increasingly powerful capabilities that can rapidly deliver value to IT organizations, they also bring significant challenges as agencies struggle to achieve an enterprise view of their infrastructure and performance metrics across these disparate technologies.
These challenges primarily stem from the many different types and large volumes of data generated by each tool. Correlating those data is the key to understanding system performance and the cause and impacts of issues on business operations. As agencies gain greater visibility across their IT operations and technologies, the possibilities to innovate open up.
“Can I harness the power of computing to look at all the sources of disparate data, making intelligent correlations, and start to predict the future for IT operations?” asked Punit Lochan, managing director for the Operate practice at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “Can I apply artificial intelligence and machine learning across all this data to not only predict, but take some self-healing steps? Can that help us go from depending on people and being reactive to now being a lot more proactive and automated? Can the system take the action for you by building confidence over time?”
That’s what OperateEdge does. It is designed to correlate and integrate data from across all agency tools and applications, and provides insights using AI and machine learning to automate and generate actionable insights. It learns what “normal” looks like on any given system, and when it detects an anomaly, it steps in autonomously to correct it or provide operations teams with insights on the root cause, impacts, and provides the team with specific actions they can take to mitigate issues and prevent issues from occurring again in the future.
“Based on this data, for instance, OperateEdge can predict that in the next two hours, my application will crash because it’s seen a similar pattern in the past. Now it knows from the data that it has an 80% confidence of the application potentially crashing because the memory is now starting to grow,” Lochan said. “It would then launch an automated bot that goes out there and pulls each server out of the cluster one at a time without the user seeing any impact. It would do a recycle, run through automated regression testing, pass with over 90%, and put the server back into the cluster. So it’s automatically resolved the issue before the issue really happened and the user does not experience an issue. There was no action taken by the worker and at the end of the day, they just see a report that would show the server that was restarted, and why the action was taken.”
In that way, OperateEdge is designed to automate processes that are traditionally reactive and labor intensive, providing a better user experience and greater continuity of operations with fewer resources. And that’s critical, because constantly upskilling teams to keep up with the new technologies is expensive for agencies that are already under-resourced and struggling to manage existing skills gaps.
In addition, humans alone aren’t capable of processing reaction times, processing speeds, storage levels and the dozens of other types of data coming directly from the server quickly enough to respond strategically and proactively to vulnerabilities across hundreds of applications. These vulnerabilities can potentially represent significant business risk and may include anything from security breaches to software performance issues. OperateEdge assists with automating these critical processes and uses advanced analytics to sift through noise to identify and prioritize vulnerabilities, helping organizations operate more securely and efficiently. Through OperateEdge, Deloitte has helped clients realize millions of dollars of direct savings per year by automating the previous manual root cause analysis and health monitoring activities. In other instances, Deloitte has used OperateEdge to reduce planning and analysis time by 80% through out-of-the-box detailed functional and technical complexity reports.
At its core, the OperateEdge platform is delivered through a managed service that is compliant with ITIL, CMMI and integrates with cloud-native architectures. It comes pre-packaged with a whopping set of integrations across over 80 products/tools. Deloitte continues to keep adding new integrations and capabilities, making it easy for clients to leverage investments and best in class technologies and streamline their operate mission.
“We’ve focused on bringing efficiencies and insights to IT operations professionals, because over time, their systems have become more complex and at times overwhelming,” Kapreilian said. “Our goal is to move our customers from keeping the lights on to lighting the road ahead with greater and more confident automation.”
For more information on Deloitte’s Government Operate Services, visit here. For more information on Deloitte’s OperateEdge platform, visit here.
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