What to expect from AIOps in 2021

Discover how AIOps is evolving and how enterprises can ensure they benefit from the opportunities the technology offers

AIOps, which applies artificial intelligence (AI) into IT management, has recently caught the eye of large enterprises. According to Forrester VP and principal analyst Mike Gualtieri, adoption is set to increase by approximately 50% this year, thanks to a renewed focus on automation and digital transformation. 

The AIOps market is forecast to be worth $1.1 billion (£801 million) globally by 2024 according to Omdia; however, its adoption won’t be uniform across all verticals. Roy Illsley, Omdia’s chief analyst, cites healthcare and media and entertainment as verticals leading the way, while energy and professional services are predicted to adopt the slowest.

AIOps – deeper insights and greater automation

A desired capability for many organisations in 2021, AIOps allows IT infrastructure and software to be operated and monitored – in part – by tools that use AI. This can help businesses more quickly identify and resolve IT issues such as security breaches and predicted failures, and is particularly relevant as businesses adopt increasingly complex multi-cloud and hybrid cloud architectures.

“Ultimately AIOps will be used to improve monitoring and incident response through gaining deeper insights and greater automation to address various operational challenges,” says Liam Rogers, research analyst, cloud native, applied infrastructure and DevOps at 451 Research. 

“We see organisations leveraging AI/ML (machine learning) enhanced tools to meet a number of needs, including improving correlation across previously siloed datasets such as logs and metrics. This will remove the manual task of setting thresholds and also augmenting simultaneous adoption of other new technologies, such as Kubernetes monitoring.”

A natural evolution of DevOps

AIOps represents a natural evolution of DevOps, says Illsley, with the benefits that it can become more inclusive of all the activities that impact the customer/employee experience or business outcomes. “It’s effectively a new name for the collective of different operation management solutions from information technology service management (ITSM) to information technology operations analysis (ITOA),” he explains

The AIOps market is being approached by different vendors from different backgrounds, Illsley says, but they’re all aiming to get to a similar place. Therefore, he expects to see automation, integration and data correlation capabilities advance in the next 12 months and for the market to begin to consolidate in 2022, as the breadth of capabilities required means mergers and acquisitions will take place.

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Bola Rotibi, research director, software development at CCS Insight, adds that we’re likely to see more acquisitions in the security space as this is a topic at the front of minds; we may even start to see a possible link-up between AIOps and 5G “but as of yet it remains unclear how meaningful this will be”. 

“It’s more likely we’ll potentially see stronger trends towards IoT and Edge operations, with AIOps coming up against the process control industry. Now, that could be an interesting and worthwhile pairing,” she points out. 

How to prepare your business to implement AIOps

Introducing the latest technologies can be seen as a way for organisations to accelerate growth, increase efficiency and improve customer service; AIOps presents many benefits, such as reducing downtime, resolving issues faster and freeing up engineers to work on more pressing projects by automating tasks. However, it adds a new level of complexity and if this isn’t matched with organisational readiness, it will fail to deliver on these business outcomes.

One of the first challenges is to educate businesses about what AIOps actually is. “It’s a fairly new discipline and many organisations still don’t fully understand it,” says Sumant Kumar, director of digital transformation at consultancy firm CGI. 

Without this understanding, organisations won’t fully discern what they want to achieve, won’t put the effort into doing proper assessments of their needs, capabilities and what they already have, and will end up with unnecessary purchases and poor implementations.

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“The adoption of new concepts that claim to be a silver bullet traditionally failed to deliver fully on their promises. AIOps is no exception: It’s not a shrink-wrapped solution that can simply be deployed in order to automatically generate an improvement in performance,” Illsley explains. 

“Instead, it’s the application of AI to the different activities IT performs. By linking all these, sharing knowledge and automating actions, AIOps can deliver. But this requires the IT department to be honest in terms of the current level of organisational maturing and what it can realistically expect to achieve in the next 12 months by using AIOps.”

Ensure an organisation-wide approach to AIOps

Although challenging, professor Andy Pardoe, founder and managing director of AI consultancy Pardoe Ventures, believes that designing an organisation-wide approach to AIOps is key to success. 

“For large organisations with multiple disconnected data science teams, there’s a risk that they might independently define different approaches to AIOps, which then makes standardisation across groups more difficult. Therefore, it’s critical to get the timing of this definition right. Only invest in AIOps once you understand what AI capabilities your organisation needs, and are ideally able to standardise the AI development approach across the different data science teams.” 

Dig deep

Gualtieri advises that organisations ensure they do due diligence before purchasing an AIOps solution and dig deep into the way vendors use technologies such as ML, as they may “use it in a trivial way”. 

The final challenge for teams to then overcome is integrating with data sources, from log files and database statistics to customer incident reports. “By enabling the AIOps system to access as much data as possible it’s performance will increase exponentially,” says Adam Leon Smith, Fellow of BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT and chair for the institute’s special interest group in software testing. 

Only by taking the time to both understand AIOps and the business’ needs and maturity can an organisation truly unleash its full capabilities and power. However, when implemented correctly, this technology can deliver greater agility and flexibility  – highly advantageous in these challenging times.

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