How to Prepare for the Coming Age of Dynamic Infrastructure

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Predictive Analytics Solve Performance Issues Before They Happen

IT infrastructures will never get any simpler, but thankfully the tools that manage them are

Businesses look to resellers for expertise on emerging technology trends and solutions that can help their organizations stay competitive. Lately, there's been an onslaught of these trends, from virtualization to hybrid clouds and the performance and uptime challenges of complex mission-critical applications.

Unfortunately, most of the tools with which IT maintains application performance were created before these trends emerged and are struggling to keep up. "The tools of the past twenty years are just too monolithic, static, and difficult to help solve today's performance problems quickly," says Giulio Covass, CEO of Italian reseller Kiratech.

That's why a growing number of resellers now offer predictive analytics solutions for IT operations. Some of these tools use advanced machine learning techniques to ingest and analyze mountains of infrastructure logs in order to produce predictive, actionable information that IT can use to address performance issues before they're even noticed. They take a real-time, holistic view of IT operations, discovering the infrastructure relationships and event chains that drive today's highly complex composite applications. They then baseline normal behavior and alert IT to the occasional improbable anomalies that indicate an emerging performance problem. They can also help identify the root cause of issues that have already been discovered.

Unlike typical management tools, the best predictive analytics solutions don't require users to configure scores of individual KPIs and thresholds. Instead they uncover the real, normal day-to-day operation of the infrastructure by themselves and, based on those findings, can identify anomalies automatically without presetting alerts. And they can continually adjust their analyses and anomaly detection to a constantly changing IT environment.

Predictive analytics solutions are most valuable to organizations for which any downtime results in lost revenue. "Lots of customers from the financial industry have asked us if something like this exists," says Sandeep Khaneja, Vice President of North American solutions and services reseller Function1. "Many of them have even built their own solutions, but they tend to be customized for one particular IT environment and don't port well to others. Today's vendor solutions are designed to work in just about any IT environment and present data in a way that is much cleaner and more elegant"

There are several ways these products can provide value to customers.

They solve problems before they're noticed. "Most of today's management tools are only effective at diagnosing performance issues after the fact," says Corvassi. Predictive analytics solutions can predict performance issues and provide concise, actionable information to address them before they're even noticed by the user. For organizations running millions of revenue-generating transactions, this is huge. "These customers have thousands of systems and hundreds of applications for which any downtime is a cost," says Covassi. "Anything that can cut that downtime, cuts costs."

They save time. A recent study by Kelton Global shows that IT professionals in large enterprises typically spend 20 hours a week responding to unexpected IT issues, distracting them from more strategic efforts that bring value to the organization. Predictive analytics solutions can help eliminate hours spent by war rooms poring over endless logs to find the root cause of performance issues. Instead the tools ingest and analyze all that log data at lightning speed, finding those needles in the haystack it takes war rooms hours or days to uncover, or even those that they never find.

They're revelatory. "I tell my customers that predictive analytics are the Donald Rumsfeld of management tools, because they alert them to issues in their IT environment that they never even knew existed," says Andrew Walley, Commercial Director for UK based reseller Eqalis. "Donald called these ‘the unknown unknowns' - things you never even thought about."

The benefits for the reseller are just as important.

Demonstrable ROI. "In these economic, budget-constrained times, the best way to sell customers on solutions is to show they pay for themselves quickly," says Corvassi. "In my experience it's easy to show customers how predictive analytics can slash operational expenses to deliver a quick ROI." Resellers can also demonstrate how these solutions increase business revenues by keeping online customers happy.

They show you're ahead of the game. "These solutions are part of a new wave of Big Data and other technologies that address the needs of the emerging cloud/agile development generation," says Walley. "IT is struggling to gain visibility and control across hybrid physical/virtual/private cloud/public cloud IT environments."

Future possibilities. Resellers can also sell customers on the future possibilities of such solutions for reducing security risks and melding IT, business, and social media information to deliver further value. "They play to our credibility as forward-looking solutions providers," says Walley.

Predictive analytics solutions have generated a lot of interest in markets that depend on fast performance and uptime for revenue, but interest is growing. "In five years everyone will be using these tools," says Walley.

Predictive analytic tools can enable reseller's customers to get ahead of the IT issues that continue to plague most data centers. They provide a much-needed cost savings to those IT operations managers who are spending way too much time and resources trying to identify root causes to these issues. IT infrastructures will never get any simpler, but thankfully the tools that manage them are.

More Stories By Karl Renneker

Karl Renneker is the Manager of Channel Development at Prelert, provider of 100 percent self-learning predictive analytics solutions to address the volumes of data generated by today’s IT systems.

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