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 refers to the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) in IT management. It's a growing practice with large enterprises that's set to increase by 50% in 2021, according to Forrester VP and principal analyst Mike Gualtieri. 

The global market for AIOps is set to grow to $1.1 billion (£801 million) by 2024, according to research foundation Omdia. However, its adoption isn't likely to be uniform across all verticals. Omida's chief analyst, Roy Illsley, suggests healthcare, media, and entertainment are the main sectors leading the way, with energy and professional services also predicted to adopt at a slower pace. 

AIOps – deeper insights and greater automation

AIOps allows IT infrastructure and software to be operated and monitored by tools that use AI. Businesses can use it to quickly identify and solve tech issues like security breaches and it can also be used to predict potential breaches. It's growing in relevance, particularly 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

As its name suggests, AIOps represents a natural evolution of DevOps, according to Illsley. The benefits of it can become more inclusive of all the activities that impact both the customer and employee experience, and even 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. 

DevOps

Illsley goes on to suggest that the market for AIOps is being approached differently by various vendors, but that they're all aiming to find a similar place. As such, he expects to see automation, integration, and data correlation systems advance over the year. He also suggests the market will begin to consolidate next year, as more capabilities will see an increase in mergers and acquisitions. 

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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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