IT operational intelligence is both an opportunity for resellers to improve their services and sell customers a new information stream for business insight. This was the subject of a recent Quocirca report titled Masters of Machines, freely available to IT Director readers at the link given at the end of this article.
The report defines operational intelligence as "the harnessing of machine data to gain real-time insights into operations to access, tune and improve IT and business processes, to identify security threats, highlight performance issues and see emerging customer trends". Machine data being the stuff automatically generated as IT systems log their own activity; what data went via which router, who accessed which application and when, the IP addresses, URLs and devices via which web sites are accessed and so on.
Operational intelligence fits the 5 Vs often used to define big data, making it a true big data problem and opportunity. The volume of records involved can run into billions per year for a given organisation, the data is derived from a wide variety of sources. The opportunity is to use the data in near real-time (velocity), to provide accurate insight (veracity) to add value to a given organisation’s operational capability.
The report delves in to a wide range of issues with regard to the operational intelligence capabilities of Europe organisations across a variety of sectors and business sizes. An index is defined for operational intelligence maturity and this is used to measure how organisations vary in their ability to capitalise on all the machine data that is available to them.
One area that was examined was the sharing of operational intelligence with partners. The more likely an organisation was to outsource the management of its IT infrastructure the more value it placed on operational intelligence capability (Figure 1). This is because there is plenty of value to be had in sharing operational intelligence and experienced service providers will be more likely to know about this than an IT department that operates in relative isolation.
However, overall the sharing of operational intelligence with partners was low (Figure 2). Of all the roles that have access, IT managers top the list with partners and service providers coming near the bottom. That may change with awareness; the data shows that where there has been investment in operational intelligence (leading to the greatest maturity) value has followed well beyond internal IT; 82% of those with the maximum maturity are making operational intelligence available to board level execs for business decision making (Figure 3).
The report goes on to look at the ways machine data is gathered and processed to provide operational intelligence. Most organisations still use ad hoc tools such as spreadsheets, general purpose business intelligence tools and database systems. Few are currently using purpose built tools, but those that do already collect and analyse more machine data and the figures will likely improve as the use of tools that are relatively new to many matures.
The sponsor of Quocirca’s report was the San Francisco-based Splunk Inc. As arguably the leading operational intelligence tools provider, Splunk’s main competition is the use of home grown methods and tools designed to do other jobs. It also overlaps with providers in other areas that have some of the same capabilities; this includes system management, application and network performance monitoring, user experience monitoring and security information and event management (SIEM).
So, those two new reseller opportunities again: first, if your services extend to managing elements of your customers’ IT infrastructure, sharing operational intelligence through capable tools can provide better insight in to problems and mean they are anticipated in advance and more quickly fixed. Second, improved operational intelligence opens up a new stream of business insight for your customers’ non-IT execs. A win-win if ever there was one.
Quocirca’s report, Masters of Machines, if freely available at this link: http://www.quocirca.com/reports/955/masters-of-machines--business-insight-from-it-operational-intelligence