Last week’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published a joint study with McKinsey on what makes a company “good” at IT. The findings? It starts with having data. From the report,
First, the companies that had the data they needed and used it to make decisions (instead of relying more on intuition and expertise) had the highest productivity and profitability. Specifically, the most data-driven companies had 4% higher productivity and 6% higher profits than the average in our sample, all else being equal.
So, is having data all you need for good IT operations?
Talk to most IT operations managers and their response is that having data is not the problem. They are literally drowning in data.
Networks, servers, virtualization, storage, and applications all create troves of performance, events, and availability data. The challenge isn’t finding data; it’s finding a way to make it useful.
The data often resides in disparate management sources making it difficult to gather and normalize. What should be a relatively simple report can take a team of reporting “experts” days to assemble and analyze.
For service-oriented IT organizations, there needs to be a consistent way to examine individual resources along with the entire infrastructure as a whole. Today’s datacenters are too complex not to be managed holistically. Optimize a component without taking into account the impact to its dependencies and the results can be disastrous.
Let’s look at a simple question of network performance as virtualization utilization increases across the datacenter. Can you answer this question by looking at an individual customer or line of business? Can you look at a specific datacenter and then at all the datacenters as a whole? Can you provide a current status along with information on the overall trend? What about adding storage performance and utilization to the question?
Having accurate, informative, and timely data so you can fine-tune your infrastructure operations is where you need to start. Having the capabilities to see trends and forecast the future is where you want to be.
The goal is to drive your operations, not let them drive you.
Whether the organization is taking a revolutionary or evolutionary journey, the need for data-driven IT operations is more important than ever. For operations to deliver “IT-as-a-Service” to the business at the highest possible level, there must be a clear understanding what’s happening now and where things are heading – across and inside the entire infrastructure.
Those IT organizations that align their processes around data will reap the rewards. As the WSJ article points out, “Digitization, in short, is not a great equalizer that drives all companies toward similar processes and outcomes. Instead, it's driving the leaders and laggards further apart.”