IT operations are at the front and center of any enterprise in today’s world. With newer technologies, tools, and processes emerging every year, there is a proportionate increase in operational complexity.
Adding to this, given the global remote work wave that we’re currently riding on, it is no surprise that IT operations are always kept on their toes. In fact, IT operations managers are one of the most sought after members of today’s modern IT enterprise.
However, this round-the-clock work nature brings along several key challenges for every IT operations manager. As people who need to solve problems and eat numbers for all three meals a day, IT operations management can be more demanding and challenging than one could imagine.
In this blog post, let’s dive deeper into a few critical challenges in IT operations management and how you could solve them.
Managing cloud-based resources in your IT estate
Gone are the days of investing millions of dollars in physical, mammoth-sized servers and IT infrastructure that host your company data. Today, almost every IT organization worldwide migrates existing applications and associated data to the cloud daily. As a result, these IT operations managers develop new capabilities that depend heavily on cloud-based infrastructure. This calls for Agile development methods that support frequent code releases and updates. IT operations managers will have to scale up to the demand and keep pushing out new releases to keep up with the changing trends.
This brings about a new challenge—how do you manage your cloud-based resources?
Enter – Cloud Orchestration.
Cloud orchestration is the end-to-end automation and resource management process that coordinates, manages, and provisions cloud components to a host of users. In today’s cloud-heavy IT estate, cloud orchestration helps you approach your IT operations management systematically.
To orchestrate your cloud services, you need to have a cloud strategy first. The fast-changing reality of IT operations management can soon make your IT strategy obsolete. Mike Chuba, research vice president at Gartner, says, “A cloud strategy that doesn’t continually evolve with new service types will quickly become a legacy strategy.” It is essential that you strike a balance between what you have, what you need, and what you can do in IT operations management. Your cloud strategy could either be private, public or even hybrid, depending on your business needs and budgets. But finding the right cloud strategy can help your business transform and gain a competitive advantage.
Difficulties with stone-age legacy systems
At the heart of traditional enterprise IT operations, you can often find legacy systems at work—outdated, slow, clunky, and rigid. It takes dedicated experts to operate and keep the boat afloat. It is also unwelcoming of newer technology stacks that swarm the modern IT enterprise. Despite the obvious shortcomings, these legacy systems somehow still stick around, doing more bad than good to the company’s IT operations. This is primarily due to the extreme comfort levels that end-users share with the existing system, despite the obvious shortcomings. Another problem is the sheer amount of manual effort involved with these systems. Activities like hardware purchase, OS installation, network configuration, storage, security, and database management, should be allocated and managed even before deploying the application. And on top of this, the IT operations team has to draft a strong business case, pitch it to the leadership, and then wait for centuries together to get their plans approved.
Take the cloud-first approach. As mentioned earlier, today’s IT landscape is continually changing, one application at a time. The flexibility offered by modern, cloud-based IT operations management tools can help your organization scale at speed. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud service models include virtualization features that help your IT operations team streamline and automate many of the aforementioned processes. A cloud-based IT operations model also strengthens the security of your IT estate. You can now configure virtual machines to deploy applications instead of risking damage to the production environment.
The Deployment Nightmare
The forces that drive IT operations and the challenges they face today have pushed IT into a continuous develop-and-deploy cycle that seems to go on forever. Enterprises are experiencing the pressures of changing and releasing their systems more quickly and with greater efficiency. And application rollouts, quite frankly, are daunting!—Especially if your enterprise has a large workforce, and even worse if it’s all-remote. On the other hand, in a conventional IT setup, the newly deployed application demands a substantial buffer time. It requires a training period, which might incur a significant loss in productivity, leading your teams even to miss deadlines and KPIs.
As application changes and updates in your IT operations landscape grow exponentially, adapting becomes a complex challenge for you and your user base. While newer DevOps solutions might appear for every technology stack, it is essential to focus on implementing an integrated, automated approach to streamline your IT operations.
So how do you make application rollout successful?
Here are a few key pointers to keep in mind while planning your next big deployment:
Involve all stakeholders during the initial stages and obtain their approval. It will ensure informed decisions are made at all critical junctures.
Over-communicate through multiple channels. Do everything in your capacity to capture the attention of your user base and keep them informed of the latest deployments.
Post-deployment, provide additional support to your users. Let them know that their problems are heard and ensure that they’re equipped with the appropriate resolutions. This will enable a smooth transition experience for your users and yield a better understanding.
Drowning in data
With the vast array of tools and applications that the modern IT enterprise uses, it’s natural that IT operations managers often find themselves neck-deep in a sea of data. The challenge lies in translating all this data into useful information and derive insights that mean something to the business. Given the steady inflow of latest technology stacks, languages, applications, and newer, more potent threats only make it frustrating at best.
But IT operations managers are smart folks that enjoy solving problems and crunching numbers for all three meals a day. Much of their time goes into analyzing and deriving meaningful insights from massive data lakes, which can be tedious. It’s important to note that these large-scale analyses should always be done with context—in reference to the existing IT operations landscape. Set and define metrics that actually matter to you, instead of measuring everything that’s displayed on the dashboard. With context, you’ll know that specific problem relates to critical business services.