Thanks for all your feedback from my first monthly column. A recurring suggestion was to further explain why I like ignio so much that I made a radical change of career, to work for its vendor, Digitate. I believe this is a key question to answer because it grounds all our future conversations.
I spent almost 25 years running IT operations, so I feel confident in my belief that ignio is the best integrated solution to optimize IT operations. With its intelligent automation capacities, ignio will change the way IT operations are run.
To better explain its capabilities, in this column I intend to proceed by steps: First understand what IT operations (ITOps) all are about, then see how ignio fits in, and finally understand how ignio is the critical factor in successfully managing ITOps. (Along the way, I’ll explain some key terms in ITOps, including data flows and SOPs.)
Data flows: The building blocks of operations
Let’s start with data, the essential nutrient for nearly all processes in our high-tech world. Any organization relies on secure, timely, and accurate data to make decisions, perform tasks, and create value. A data flow is a set of logical steps where data hops from one IT solution to another while being queried, enriched, or secured. The essence of efficient IT operation support is to manage that data flow properly and securely.
The below picture represents a possible data flow for an enterprise with a typical technology stack including ERP and other business applications, with a standard IT maintenance team.
The vertical dimension represents the technical layers needed to sustain a specific solution. The bottom, most fundamental layer, is the hardware layer or infrastructure. (On-premises or on cloud, any IT operation needs a physical machine somewhere.) Next up is the operating system that manages the communication and relationships of applications and hardware.
The top, or application, layer represents the actual business applications your organization uses – for example, your ERP suite (whether SAP, Oracle, or another vendor), CRM systems, email, website software, and databases, plus all the middleware or integration tools to connect them. (Don’t confuse my schema with traditional ideas of “n-tier” software architecture, which subdivide the functions I’ve grouped here as the “application layer.”)
The line of blue boxes along the top illustrates the horizontal flow of data from one solution (each column) to another, for example from an external source (such as a supplier’s EDI system) to your core ERP and then to another critical system such as your web server. During each hop this data can trigger actions or decisions – or become enriched for future steps.
SOPs: Keeping all the operations connected
All these layers, both horizontal and vertical, are constantly communicating among themselves, to keep the whole data flow running smoothly. Each of these layers generates log files, a running set of operational data to describe how they are performing at a machine level.
When their state changes, they record that in their log files as an “event.” If that change indicates something’s actually wrong (let’s say a storage appliance is nearly full), they generate an “alert,” which generally triggers an action, whether by a machine or a human.
All these alerts, events, logs, and more must be carefully coordinated to allow a constant flow of data. When vertical connections aren’t properly functioning, the horizontal data flow is interrupted, creating major disruption to operations.
A fully functioning data flow is sustained by thousands of actions performed by humans or machines. Each task is documented in a set of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), which are like the DNA of all IT processes. Each of these SOPs is assigned to a specific IT operations team. Of course, these SOPs also include all necessary tasks to keep IT production current (bug fixes, upgrades, or other changes). The correct and timely execution of these procedures drives flawless IT support.
IT operations or Mission: Impossible?
The ITOps function’s main goal is to guarantee the continuous (7X24, year-round) flow of data. This is a very difficult task due to IT complexity, enormous daily data volume, and continuous budget restrictions. (It can also be hard on the people who do the work, since IT hours are often long and unpredictable, and about 80% of SOPs are highly repetitive.)
How is it possible to fulfill all these necessary activities, when IT operations are considered merely a cost center and constantly pressured to reduce expenses and improve service? The answer is: Adoption of intelligent automation. (What distinguishes intelligent automation from the ordinary kind is that it’s powered by machine learning, so it can detect patterns of behavior in an IT landscape, distinguish healthy from unhealthy behaviors, and even act autonomously to fix problems.)
Intelligent automation can manage the mundane tasks, freeing up labor for more value-added tasks. Intelligent automation will reduce the cost of ITOps, improve service, allow IT teams to refocus on critical skills, and improve employee satisfaction.
However, intelligent automation isn’t something you can just spray at random, like disinfectant. To use it effectively, at the scale of an entire enterprise, you need a tool able to connect all the different SOPs into a single virtual ITOps team. And that’s ignio™, Digitate’s intelligent enterprise automation platform.
A digital ITOps “team” to free up the human team
The ignio suite of products has been designed to connect with any IT solution vertically and horizontally, enabling intelligent automation and AI/ML from on-premises servers to edge computing passing through the cloud. ignio can manage data flow hopping from traditional applications to web-enabled and container applications.
ignio allows SOPs to be translated into a single machine. They can function independently, and also can interact, adding up to a machine that can control other machines.
The beauty of ignio is not only in the diversity offered (10 different products, more than 10,000 use cases ready to use), but also that ignio has been designed to be your digital ITOps team. All its products and use cases are managed as a single solution to run up to 80% of SOPs for IT operations.
Everything is connected, so ignio can really act as one single entity to fully manage your IT operations. All ignio products and use cases are connected and work as a single ecosystem to support all IT environments. And because ignio runs in the cloud, it allows continuous maintenance of all use cases deployed.
While ignio is not a platform to code use cases, you can use it to customize use cases. Digitate’s mission is to free critical IT professionals from highly repetitive tasks, empowering them to drive IT adoption and transformation.
The bottom line: I believe that ignio is a game-changer for how we run IT operations, because it has been created to empower humans to do more motivating tasks while managing data flow both horizontally and vertically, providing a 24X7 yearly continuous support, and keeping its use cases current and secure.
Promoting face-to-face connections too
Now that we’re organizing in-person events again, including our Jam Session ’22 global tour this fall, I hope to meet at least some of you in person and talk about data flows, SOPs, and keeping your IT people from burning out.
Until then, feel free to connect with me virtually.
Stay in touch,
Are you curious about the business value ignio can create? Check out the recent Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study from Forrester Consulting, which estimated 185% ROI over three years of ignio ownership. Use our online calculator to estimate the ROI ignio could deliver to your organization.