As organisations move applications to the cloud, how is this changing the views of CIOs with regards to keeping the lights on for legacy infrastructure?
Gartner noted that 2020 events have accelerated cloud adoption to the point where it is the de facto new normal. The analyst goes on to suggest that enterprise architecture and technology innovation leaders reject any new project that does not follow “cloud first” as a guiding principle.
Gartner recommends that enterprise leverage tools, programmes and migration methodologies that support the movement to containerization, including tools around ITOps, SecOps, site reliability engineering (SRE), PlatformOps and AIOps.
EMA says the phrase “Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations” carries with it some rather head-scratching speculation that focuses, perhaps too much, on the heuristics underneath the hood of the car, rather than the direction in which it’s driving.
FutureCIO has hosted several roundtables and virtual conferences n 2020 to gauge CIO and other technology leaders’ receptivity towards the use of AI in IT operations. For the most part interest, if not curiosity, on the value AI brings to IT operations is healthy and growing.
A Boston Consulting Group (BCG) survey of 112 CIOs concluded that technologies like AI could significantly improve the cost-effectiveness and performance of IT operations, allowing organisations to drive innovation more quickly without sacrificing security, stability or service.
A view shared by Matthew Hurford, field CTO and vice president, solutions engineering, Asia Pacific, for NetApp, who noted that as an industry, IT has not done a very good job at modernising the retiring of IT systems (meaning: organisations are typically reluctant to retire legacy systems and instead add new infrastructure alongside older systems).
He said the years of neglect of the opportunity has given rise to sprawl and complexity. Compounding the situation are two opposing directives: (1) organisations want to leverage the cloud to accelerate the speed of innovation; (2) keep legacy environments running.
As cloud understanding matures, there is pressure on IT and the CIO to consider operating the existing IT environment in much the same way as how cloud services is delivered – by way of a catalogue of services.
However, Hurford believes IT or the CIO does not see this as a possibility at least not if priced against the way cloud services is delivered today.
Valuing the IT organisation
Like most traditional shared services – accounting, procurement, human resources, etc. – IT has become an important but often forgotten department within the enterprise that is expected to deliver a myriad set of services most notably making sure computer systems, applications and associated data are running uninterrupted.
Digital disruption did not change user’s view of IT. COVID-19 did. The disruption brought about by the pandemic elevated the importance of the IT department as custodian of the company’s IT infrastructure and protector of company and customer data.
Throughout much of 2020 and continuing into 2021, users, including leadership and the Board, have come to appreciate what IT does for the enterprise.
Hurford sees a window of opportunity for CIOs to really step forward – use the capability and new found recognition – to get more trust from the business to go, and do more innovative things and really start to create some differentiated services.
“When we talk about all this digital stuff, digital disruption, use of data, turning data into information, the real playing field now for any business is in the service outcomes they can provide their customers. That is where I think organisations can differentiate,” suggested Hurford.
The AI factor in IT operations
The hype around the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and/or machine learning (ML) in creating new business models or generating new revenue stream may be stealing leadership and investment capital, but the reality is that AI and ML’s application in more traditional functions like IT operations have just as much potential to change the status quo.
Gartner warned that in the face of digital transformation, infrastructure and operations’ (I&O) traditional approach to delivering business value is providing to be inefficient in many areas. The analyst said I&O leaders must take the lead and proactively address the need for agile practices, new AI use cases and a more holistic approach to managing complex environments.
Hurford concurs acknowledging that prevalence of use cases in the application of automation tools to improve the delivery of technology across many functions within the enterprise.
He sees AIOps or MLOps as driving out cost. “We need to go into this (use of AIOps and MLOps) with a foundational understanding of how we are going to control the costs across these multi-clouds and not have to use those methods of the past with a million agents or hundreds of spreadsheets,” he opined.
Click on the PodChat player and listen to Hurford talk about Role of AI in cloudified enterprise applications.
- The nature of business has evolved and enterprises must now adopt a different approach toward managing applications and workloads; how has this resulted in an enforced change in the role of the IT department?
- Do businesses today, with your discussions with customers, do they really appreciate what IT does for them? I'm not talking about buying from a third-party company this application that I'll run on my mobile device or on a small server in the office that would do our eCommerce platform?
- What’s a rebuttable to a CIO who does not see the need to apply emerging technologies like AI in IT operations?
- Which markets in Asia-Pacific are more receptive towards introducing AI into IT operations?
- Does the introduction of AI into IT operations introduce unwanted complexity?
- Are concerns around time-to-value for AIOps real? If it’s real, what's the way to accelerate RTV?
- How do I launch a successful AIOps initiative? What are the traps that I need to watch out for? Any learnings from your own experiences helping customers deploy AIOps in their environment?