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Picking the right tools for IT operations analytics

(Published on behalf of Pranit Prakash)

In my earlier post, I discussed leveraging IT operations analytics for intelligent IT operations. In this post, we will discuss some differentiators that can help your organization select the right tools for adopting IT operations analytics.
A Gartner prediction shows how critical this is: "Through 2015, more than 90% of business leaders contend information is a strategic asset, yet fewer than 10% will be able to quantify its economic value."
With organizations keen on mining knowledge from data generated by IT operations, the market has a wide assortment of vendors in the IT operations analytics space. Many of the tools on offer are narrow-focused, most addressing just one of the many facets of IT operations. Few such tools address event correlation leading to optimized application performance, or configuration analytics to identify any discrepancy in standard parameters. Fewer still have the capability to sift through textual log data to find patterns that can enable proactive monitoring.

Factors for Selection
With a multitude of niche tools and exciting innovations, the IT operations analytics market offers organizations wide choice to harness a wealth of information for intelligent IT operations. The differentiator lies in selecting the right framework and strategy to implement IT operations analytics. Some critical success factors to identify the right tool and partner in line with enterprise requirements include:
• Application use-case
Enterprise IT may need operations intelligence to cover multiple areas and use-cases. However, to start with, the organization must identify the applicable business scenarios to help choose the right tool and technology. For instance, business cases may vary from limited drill-down capabilities into operational issues and lack of visibility into customer experience to revenue erosion from data-loss.
It is rare to find a single tool that offers effective solutions in all these areas. Moreover, several of the available analytics tools have proven case-studies in handling the individual challenges of IT operations.

• Data handling and statistical capabilities
All analytics tools offer algorithms to integrate and analyze data from available sources. On the other hand, a simple logger tool may not be of much use without the capability to churn and co-relate massive amounts of data to deliver insights relevant to decision making. The slice-and-dice capabilities of most of these tools help organizations mine their way to the right results. Organizations need to evaluate the unique point of differentiation for these tools by mapping tool features to their current challenges and business cases in longer term.

• Visual capabilities
An IT ops analytics tool must be smart enough to present information in a consumable format. Basic dashboards and standard graph capabilities are integral to such tools but what really adds value is the drill-down and customization capability of the said tool. Many such tools provide the capability to define role-based access. . This allows organizations to define key success factors that can be monitored on-the-go through alerts and threshold settings integrated with mobile devices.

Getting IT Right
In the evolving and innovative landscape of IT analytics, it is important for organizations to focus on the right strategy that can identify strengths and weaknesses of the tools available in the market, underlying technologies, and accurately assess the vendor's long-term execution and support capabilities.

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