Today’s data center management professionals face a unique challenge. Technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing are elevating a new generation of IT applications, powering everything from smart cities to data-driven crisis response. However, these capabilities have made digital environments more complex by several orders of magnitude, making it increasingly difficult to effectively manage modern data centers.
Thankfully, an emerging trend known as AIOps -- or Artificial Intelligence Operations -- offers IT professionals the support they desperately need. By bringing artificial intelligence and visualization technologies to bear on a wide range of data center challenges, AIOps enables data center management professionals to automate administrative tasks, reduce unnecessary alerts, and identify anomalies before they cause wider issues.
AIOps tools are already helping IT teams in multiple scenarios, data center management included. In fact, a new report from OpsRamp shows that 87% of technology professionals say their AIOps solutions are delivering the value they had expected prior to implementation. Coupled with analyses showing that the market for AIOps platforms will grow from $2.6 billion in 2018 to $11.0 billion in 2023, these positive early results underscore the transformative potential of AIOps in the IT space.
For data center management professionals interested in learning more about AIOps, it’s important to understand the approach’s range of possible use cases, as well as the requirements for successful implementation. By doing so, data center teams can ensure they’ll reap the rewards of a technology that promises to revolutionize the IT industry at large.
What AIOps can do for data centers
Data center management professionals face a flood of redundant alerts, interoperability issues, and cybersecurity threats daily. To manage their facilities effectively, these professionals must methodically sift through this deluge of information to get to the bottom of potential issues and neutralize possible vulnerabilities. However, figuring out what’s important and what’s just noise is easier said than done, especially given the steady stream of information produced by data-rich technologies like IoT devices.
This is where AIOps solutions thrive. These tools gather and aggregate information from critical datasets including log files, monitoring tools, and numerous applications. Using advanced machine learning capabilities, these tools then analyze this data to identify patterns, pinpoint anomalies, detect potential threats, and suss out the root causes of persistent issues. Depending on how they’re configured, AIOps platforms can even implement fixes to these issues on their own or generate alerts to raise data center management professionals’ awareness of high-priority issues that need a human touch.
Additionally, AIOps tools provide end-to-end visualizations of data center environments. Rather than struggling with non-interoperable platforms that make it difficult to compare the performance of one aspect of data center architecture with another’s, visualization helps IT teams track metrics like usage, work through intuitively organized alerts, and better understand the overall health of their data centers.
But AIOps tools don’t just make it easier for IT professionals to manage data centers; they make this management moreeffective. By cutting down on unnecessary noise and identifying issues proactively rather than reactively, data center management professionals deploying AIOps solutions stand a better chance of resolving problems before they affect end users.
How to get AIOps implementation right
For data center professionals to achieve the efficiencies outlined above, they need to be strategic about how they implement their AIOps tools. While many may assume artificial intelligence amounts to a set-it-and-forget-it solution, it requires careful implementation and management. To that end, data center teams should adopt the four following strategies to ensure they’re maximizing the ROI of their AIOps tools.
1. Identify your AIOps goals
Data center professionals who have a specific goal in mind for their AIOps solutions stand the greatest chance of achieving success. While AIOps offers a wide range of benefits to IT teams, failing to take a targeted approach to what you’re measuring and what you’re managing will almost inevitably compromise your tools’ effectiveness.
Instead, be sure to nail down what it is you want to accomplish with AIOps. Are you looking to minimize unnecessary alerts that are eating up your support personnel’s bandwidth? Are you trying to proactively identify cybersecurity threats to your data center before they do real damage? Whatever your priorities are, articulating your goals will help you track your progress and keep everyone on the same page.
2. Lay the technological groundwork
AIOps tools offer game-changing automation capabilities, but they must be deployed on top of a solid technological foundation. This means network monitoring tools, server monitoring tools, and more need to be up and running smoothly before you introduce AIOps platforms into your data center environment. By ensuring these solutions are in place, you’ll be providing your AIOps platforms with the steady flow of accurate data they need to generate invaluable insights.
3. Start small, then go big
Getting your AIOps project off the ground will take time. For instance, team members will need to learn what these tools offer and how they function in relation to existing virtual and non-virtual assets. To help make this transition a smooth one, consider starting with a modest AIOps implementation. Begin with discrete deployments that allow you and your team to become familiar with how AIOps tools work in your data center. Doing so provides you with an isolated, low-stakes way of learning the ins and outs of your new platforms.
4. Check in regularly, and adjust as necessary
Finally, don’t forget to check in on a regular basis to ensure your AIOps tools are functioning as intended and helping you surpass key performance benchmarks. It may take some tinkering to make these tools work well with your existing tools, so don’t be afraid to do some experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. Because every data center is different, every AIOps platform will need to be tailored to your specific needs and your specific digital environment.
The future is now
As data centers become increasingly complex, it’s imperative for IT professionals to have the support they need to manage their facilities effectively. By engaging with potential issues proactively, data center teams can resolve problems before they damage virtual and non-virtual assets -- not to mention the end-user experience and their brand’s reputation.
Although AIOps tools are a relatively new addition to the data center toolbox, they represent an exciting paradigm shift in management tactics. By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence and visualization, these tools can help data center professionals stay one step ahead of even the most complex industry challenges.
Albert A. Ahdoot is Director of Business Development at Colocation America. He leads the company's sales efforts by gathering intelligence, drafting and enforcing sales policies and procedures, and evaluating and implementing new business strategies.