Blog / September 28, 2023

How to unlock continual service improvement with AIOps

Kyle Hirai, Head of IT & Security


Raise your hand if this sounds familiar: You arrive at work only to find a flood of urgent incident alerts. Servers are down, networks are congested, and your team is scrambling to prevent a total meltdown. You spend the day fighting fires without any time to understand why these issues keep happening. Just when you think you've got things under control, another avalanche of alerts arrives to start the cycle all over again.

If this stressful game of Whac-A-Mole resonates with you, you’re not alone. Modern IT environments have become extremely complex and chaotic. Most IT teams remain stuck in reactive mode, lurching from one crisis to another. But what if there was a better way? What if you could detect anomalies before they escalate into major incidents? Or if your systems could self-tune and optimize without constant human intervention? That’s exactly what AIOps aims to accomplish.

AIOps, or artificial intelligence for IT operations, is the advanced usage of analytics and machine learning to help IT teams transition from reactive to proactive. It’s like having a data scientist monitoring your systems 24/7 and providing constant performance tuning in the background. Rather than simply reacting to problems, AIOps enables you to get ahead of issues before they even start. It’s a game-changer for maximizing availability and efficiency.

In this post, we’ll explore:

  • What AIOps entails
  • Why you need AIOps
  • The key benefits of AIOps
  • The core components of AIOps
  • AIOps use cases and applications
  • Best practices for launching AIOps
  • An AIOps solution for modern IT operations


What is AIOps?

AIOps originated from Gartner as an industry category and stands for Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations. It refers to advanced platforms that combine big data and machine learning to automate and enhance IT operations and workflows. The core goal of AIOps is to enable continuous improvement and optimization of IT systems and processes.

At its foundation, AIOps ingests data from various IT monitoring tools and applies analytics and AI algorithms to detect patterns and surface insights. This allows AIOps platforms to correlate events across disparate systems, identify root causes, and even predict potential issues before they occur.

Key capabilities of AIOps include:

  • Noise reduction and pattern recognition: Identifying meaningful signals amidst data noise.
  • Intelligent alerting: Eliminating notification fatigue by sending alerts only for critical events.
  • Dynamic baselining: Adjusting normal thresholds automatically based on seasonal changes.
  • Causal analysis: Mapping incidents and events to determine root cause
  • Predictive analytics: Forecasting trends to manage future capacity requirements.

The overarching value of AIOps is enabling IT teams to shift from reactive firefighting to continuous optimization and improvement. By applying AI to monitor systems, detect patterns, and surface insights, AIOps platforms can help transform IT operations.


Traditional IT operations are stuck in a reactive loop

Without AIOps, many IT Ops teams can be stuck in a reactive rut. Their days can often involve a constant stream of fire drills triggered by alerts and incidents. Despite any heroic efforts, resolving issues can take far too long due to reliance on outdated tools and manual processes.

A typical incident response workflow might go something like this:

  • An alert fires about a system or application malfunction. The on-call engineer scrambles to investigate.
  • They spend hours trying to connect insights from disparate monitoring tools. Logs are searched manually for clues.
  • After triaging the issue, they engage the app owners and dev teams to resolve the problem. Details get lost in lengthy email threads and meetings.
  • A temporary fix is deployed to restore service. But the root cause stays unclear, making recurrence likely.
  • The incident report sits in a queue for days before the engineer gets time to document it. No lessons learned are captured to prevent similar issues.
  • Leadership is frustrated by the repeated outages disrupting business. Employees complain about the poor experience.
  • Overwhelmed IT teams work nights and weekends, but problems keep arising. Burnout sets in.

This reactive model resulted from the growing complexity of modern tech stacks coupled with a lack of AI-driven process automation. No amount of hiring can help ops teams keep pace with the deluge of data and the constant need for system optimization. With only 23% of IT leaders saying that their current strategy allows them to keep pace with the demands of modern business —  the solution to this challenge lies in technology evolution.


Why you need AIOps

The technological landscape has changed dramatically over the past decade, making traditional manual IT operations analytics inadequate to handle the scale, complexity, and speed demanded by modern businesses. 

Some of the key drivers behind the growing need for AIOps are:

  • Expanding IT environments: The adoption of cloud, containers, microservices, and other technologies has exploded the scope and scale of IT infrastructure. The variety of components and their interconnectedness have outpaced the capability for manual monitoring and management.
  • Exponential data growth: Systems and applications are producing immense volumes of machine data. Traditional tools cannot effectively analyze massive amounts of unstructured data to identify meaningful patterns and insights. Advanced AI is required to process and interpret this flood of data.
  • Increasing need for faster problem resolution: In today's fast-paced digital world, businesses cannot afford prolonged IT outages or performance issues. The IT costs of downtime and technical debt continue to rise. AIOps enables rapid anomaly detection and root cause analysis to accelerate problem diagnosis and repair.
  • More computing at the network edge: With cloud, IoT, and mobile, computing power and critical systems are moving to the edge. IT teams lack visibility and control over these fragmented environments using legacy tools. AIOps provides holistic observability across the decentralized stack.
  • Developer empowerment: Developers are rightly empowered to release code quickly, but they are not always held accountable for performance in production. AIOps help enforce SLAs and optimize systems even as the app stack rapidly changes.

As business demands on IT continue accelerating, AIOps have become an imperative to tame the complexity and keep systems humming. Applying AI to analyze data, identify insights, and recommend actions is the only scalable way to maintain continuous improvement. AIOps enables sustainable IT operations.


Key benefits of AIOps

Organizations that implement AIOps realize a range of powerful benefits that positively impact IT operations and the broader business:

  • Increased efficiency: AIOps automates manual tasks, enforces best practices, and provides continuous system tuning, boosting productivity and efficiency for IT teams.
  • Reduced downtime: Outages and performance issues are rapidly detected and remediated before causing user impact, and as a result, mean time to resolution shrinks dramatically.
  • Lower costs: With fewer fire drills and human-driven processes, overhead and infrastructure expenses are optimized. Teams can focus on innovation rather than maintenance.
  • Greater agility: Faster incident response and streamlined change management enable more frequent, seamless releases. 
  • Proactive optimization: Instead of reactive approaches, systems are continually tuned based on AI-detected signals and patterns, preventing issues before they happen.
  • Enhanced experiences: By headlining off customer- and employee-impacting failures and performance problems, AIOps maintains consistently high digital experience.

Leading organizations across industries like Luminis HealthIntercontinental Exchange, and Albemarle have adopted AIOps to transform IT operations. These companies have sped up support, lowered mean time to repair, and rapidly identified major workplace disruptions by investing in AIOps.

Their success stories prove that AIOps delivers game-changing benefits. This AI-powered approach enables support teams to finally break free of reactive work and shift their focus to continuous improvement and innovation. The result is ultra-reliable, high-performance IT that drives business growth.


Core components of AIOps

AIOps platforms leverage a combination of technologies to enable continuous intelligence and automation for IT operations. Here are the key capabilities:


Data collection and analysis

  • Multi-layered data collection: AIOps ingests monitoring data from across the technology stack to fuel deeper insights. This includes infrastructure metrics, application logs, business KPIs, tracing data, customer engagement signals, and more. 
  • Flexible data ingestion: Custom connectors and streaming pipelines allow the ingestion of diverse data formats from both legacy and modern systems, breaking down data silos and enriching AIOps analytics.
  • Powerful data processing: At its core, AIOps relies on scalable big data infrastructure for storing, processing, and querying vast volumes of machine data in real time to unlock speed and depth of analysis.


Automated detection and triage

  • Advanced machine learning: AIOps applies ML techniques like clustering, classification, regression, and reinforcement learning to detect anomalies, forecast issues, prescribe actions, and optimize configurations.
  • Intelligent alerting: Beyond static thresholds, adaptive algorithms determine the right alerting criteria based on severity, frequency, and other dimensions to reduce alert fatigue.
  • Causal analysis: AIOps analyzes event sequences and patterns to build dependency maps automatically, accelerating root cause identification during incidents.
  • Automated triage: AIOps can automatically prioritize and route alerts to the appropriate teams based on criticality, service impact, and other factors.


Automated response and remediation

  • Prescriptive actions: The platform can take intelligent actions like auto-remediations, forecast capacity needs, tune configurations, and more based on insights from the data. Humans focus on higher-order problems.
  • Intelligent runbook automation: AIOps can trigger automated playbooks and runbooks based on identified issues to accelerate recovery.
  • Self-healing capabilities: For known issues with prescribed fixes, AIOps can automatically remediate without human intervention.


Continuous learning

  • Continuous baseline learning: The system continually adjusts baselines for metrics based on periodicity, trends, and past incidents to minimize false alerts, dynamically adapting to new norms.
  • Feedback loops: AIOps platforms utilize feedback loops to continuously improve anomaly detection, forecasting, and remediation recommendations.
  • Transfer learning: Models can leverage learnings from past issues and solutions to accelerate the handling of new incidents.

Together, these capabilities allow AIOps to apply AI/ML to continuously analyze IT data, identify optimization opportunities, and take actions that drive intelligent decision-making. The result is a self-optimizing IT operations engine.


AIOps use cases and applications

AIOps platforms have diverse applications across IT operations, empowering teams to optimize systems proactively. Here are some common use cases:

  • Intelligent alerting: Suppress noise and prioritize alerts that require human intervention based on severity and impact.
  • Anomaly detection: Identify abnormalities in metrics, logs, and traces to detect failures, security threats, and capacity issues.
  • Incident diagnosis: Analyze event data leading up to an incident to rapidly isolate the root cause.
  • Capacity forecasting: Predict infrastructure needs and optimize capacity based on growth trends.
  • Performance optimization: Continually tune configurations, resource allocation, and code paths to improve speed and throughput.
  • Automated remediation: Execute predefined actions like restarting processes, scaling resources, and recovering nodes upon detecting issues.
  • Change analysis: Evaluate performance impacts of changes to code, configurations, and architecture.
  • Cloud cost optimization: Rightsize workloads across cloud environments and recommend architectures based on utilization patterns.

Additionally, AIOps delivers value across many verticals:

  • E-commerce: Maintain ultra-reliable storefronts with minimum downtime during peak traffic.
  • Finance: Flag anomalous transactions and predict cybersecurity threats.
  • Healthcare: Optimize EHR systems and ensure HIPAA compliance.
  • Manufacturing: Predict equipment failures based on IoT sensor data.

Advanced AIOps platforms can analyze your support tickets so you know exactly what’s slowing down your teams in real time. These platforms can look at your unstructured data and visualize the most important problems slowing down your organization so you can fully see the experiences behind your services. You can even filter the data by individual departments and time periods. Companies like Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) leverage these advanced AIOps platforms to prioritize and address issues that are reducing productivity in their workforce. 

Simply put, the applications are endless. AIOps enables proactive optimization by continually tuning systems based on AI-detected signals rather than reacting to problems. This drives major improvements in service reliability, efficiency, and cost.


Challenges and considerations for AIOps

While AIOps promises significant benefits, there are also important challenges and considerations when adopting these platforms:

  • Data quality: Insufficient or poor quality data limits the effectiveness of AIOps analytics. Data gaps need to be identified and monitoring coverage expanded.
  • Data silos: Consolidating datasets from disparate systems and tools requires upfront integration work. 
  • Model accuracy: If algorithms are trained on biased or inadequate data, they will make unreliable recommendations.
  • Organizational resistance: Due to a lack of skills or trust in AI, teams may not act on AIOps insights. User education and coaching is key.
  • Workload overhead: Running AIOps places additional data and compute demands on infrastructure. 
  • Maintaining continuity: The AIOps platform itself needs monitoring and failover mechanisms to avoid becoming a single point of failure.
  • Iterative adoption: While the vision is autonomous operations, it is unwise to turn over the keys to AIOps all at once. A gradual, iterative approach is recommended.

With careful planning and execution, these hurdles can be overcome. The key is to start with limited use cases and feed the AIOps platform higher-quality data over time. AIOps capabilities will compound as the system learns more about the IT environment. The journey requires patience but pays continuous dividends.


Best practices for launching AIOps

Implementing AIOps to achieve continuous optimization requires careful planning and execution. Here are some best practices:

  • Executive sponsorship: Get buy-in from leadership on the vision and resources required to support AIOps.
  • Cross-team collaboration: Break down silos between ITOps, DevOps, and data teams and align on goals.
  • Phased rollout: Start with a limited use case and dataset, and only then expand the scope gradually as the platform matures.
  • Data governance: Establish processes for data quality, tagging, security, and compliance early on.
  • Monitor continuous data flows: Ensure AIOps is ingesting a constant stream of data from across environments to enable continuous optimization.
  • Iterative model tuning: Measure AIOps accuracy KPIs like false positives. To prevent these issues, ensure that models are retrained regularly to improve the reliability of insights.
  • Enable closed-loop actions: Build playbooks for auto-remediations once AIOps recommendations prove reliable.
  • Maintain talent mix: Have data scientists oversee AIOps ML pipelines even as automation displaces some routine IT tasks and upskill staff where possible.
  • Review outcomes periodically: Establish governance to evaluate AIOps effectiveness, user adoption, and ROI.

With an iterative, collaborative approach, AIOps can transform IT operations. But rushing into automation without the right foundations risks undermining both AIOps and cultural adoption. Patience and sustained commitment to improvement is key.


Welcome to the future of intelligence IT operations

AIOps represent a seismic shift for IT teams bogged down in manual drudgery. By applying advanced analytics and machine learning, AIOps enable the long-sought vision of self-driving, self-optimizing IT infrastructure.

This is not some far-off fantasy. Companies are already slashing incident resolution times. Outages are prevented before users even notice. And systems tune themselves so agents can focus on innovation.

The rise of cloud-native technologies like containers and microservices will only accelerate the need for intelligent automation. Manual solutions simply cannot keep pace with the complexity. 

A whopping 85% of leaders whose companies enjoy fully accessible data say the organization can embrace change readily. With a commitment to continuous improvement and fully accessible data, AIOps will unlock unprecedented scale and reliability.

Long gone are the days when fire drills reduced forward progress to a standstill, and your best and brightest are bogged down addressing these issues. With a commitment to continuous improvement, AIOps will unlock unprecedented scale and reliability.


EXI: An AIOps solution for modern IT operations

Employee Experience Insights is an AIOps tool from Moveworks that gives you unparalleled insights into your employee experience in a single, easy-to-use screen. Using advanced natural language understanding, powered by the most powerful large language models, it allows IT leaders to easily:

  • Identify the most important issues slowing down your employees
  • Measure the success of big investments like applications, systems, and support teams relative to benchmarks from peers.
  • See the challenges departments are facing from marketing to engineering to sales, putting you in control of your employee experience.
  • Share insights, proving impact with a single click
  • Drill down into cohorts like your remote employees, groups like new hires, or specific timeframes to pinpoint pain points.


Other AI solutions from Moveworks:

  • Moveworks Enterprise Copilot: An enterprise copilot that automates work with generative AI trained on the world's most advanced large language models.
  • Employee Communications: An employee communication platform that sends targeted messages using AI in enterprise chat platforms.

Ready to upgrade your IT operations? Try EXI.

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