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The Evolution of IT Monitoring: Data Analytics and Machine Learning

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The Evolution of IT Monitoring: Data Analytics and Machine Learning

By Chris Paap, Technical Product Manager, SolarWinds

The goal of any IT organization is to make sure that everything from the underlying infrastructure to the applications are running in such a manner that end users can complete their tasks effectively. To help them do this, IT organizations have always depended on monitoring tools to alert them of issues in their environment, but trends in IT monitoring point to an evolution towards analytics, automation and remediation. In turn, this evolution has allowed IT organizations to transition from reactive to proactive; thereby preventing "firefighting" situations, which tend to be all too common.

Based on my personal experience, the typical day of an IT administrator starts with the daily post-wakeup routine of scanning the phone for email or SMS alerts indicating any "fires" of some sort or another. If you're "lucky," the fix is trivial, but more often than not, the alert escalates, requiring multiple IT members (or teams) to divert their attention from project work to out of band changes.

Once the all too common finger pointing-"It's the network!" "It's the server!" "It's the SAN!"-dies down, the resulting fix is usually a temporary "band aid" to get end users up and operational again. After that comes additional downtime to permanently resolve the issue through planned outages. The traditional processes associated with monitoring and then responding to alerts creates an IT organization that is reactionary-stuck in a seemingly never ending game of whack-a-mole, moving from fire drill to fire drill, consuming all of the team's time and energy-versus proactive.

How, new trends in monitoring software are beginning to provide an additional dimension, one that allows IT administrators to be proactive about minimizing downtown. In particular, monitoring vendors are beginning to integrate data analytics and machine learning into their monitoring platforms in two key ways.

First, by analyzing current and past historical data as well as correlating environmental events, an administrator can have access to more accurate prediction models, capacity trending and alert correlation. All of which provides for better planning to prevent an out of band fix or middle of the night outage alert.

The second implementation analyzes the environment and provides recommended steps necessary to resolve current or potential issues. This can be taken one step further by automatically executing on recommended actions to remediate current and potential issues in the environment with no interaction from the administrator, resulting increased operational uptime.

What does this mean to you? This evolution in IT monitoring provides you the ability to keep a balanced approach of keeping the lights on while still moving forward in enabling best practices. Time usually allocated to putting out fires can now be put to use implementing new projects or infrastructure improvements. There is also the benefit of providing increased operational uptime to the end users and migrating from a reactionary IT to a transformational IT organization. But it all begins by getting the right tools, processes and people in place.

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About the Author

With 14 years of IT systems engineering experience across multiple corporate environments, Chris Paap currently serves as a technical product manager for hybrid IT performance management software provider SolarWinds, where he focuses specifically on the award-winning SolarWinds Virtualization Manager. In this role, he is responsible for defining the product roadmap and identifying key new features to solve IT problems. 

Published Tuesday, February 23, 2016 6:32 AM by David Marshall
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