Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, ManageEngine IT Matters, Yeshim Deniz, Jason Bloomberg

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, Apache

@BigDataExpo: Article

Babies, Big Data, and IT Analytics

Machine learning is a topic that has gone from obscure niche to mainstream visibility over the last few years

Machine learning and IT analytics can be just as beneficial to IT operations as it is for monitoring vital signs of premature babies to identify danger signs too subtle or abnormal to be detected by a human. But an enterprise must be willing to implement monitoring and instrumentation that gathers data and incorporates business activity across organizational silos in order to get meaningful results from machine learning.

Machine learning is a topic that has gone from obscure niche to mainstream visibility over the last few years. High profile software companies like Splunk have tapped into the Big Data "explosion" to highlight the benefits of building systems that use algorithms and data to make decisions and evolve over time.

One recent article on machine learning on the O'Reilly Radar blog that caught my attention made a connection between web operations and medical care for premature infants. "Operations, machine learning, and premature babies" by Mike Loukides describes how machine learning is used to analyze data streamed from dozens of monitors connected to each baby. The algorithms are able to detect dangerous infections a full day before any symptoms are noticeable to a human.

An interesting point from the article is that the machine learning system is not looking for spikes or irregularities in the data; it is actually looking for the opposite. Babies who are about to become sick stop exhibiting the normal variations in vital signs shown by healthy babies. It takes a machine learning system to detect changes in behavior too subtle for a human to notice.

Mike Loukides then wonders whether machine learning can be applied to web operations. Typical performance monitoring focuses on thresholds to identify a problem. "But what if crossing a threshold isn't what indicates trouble, but the disappearance (or diminution) of some regular pattern?" Machine learning could identify symptoms that a human fails to identify because he's just looking for thresholds to be crossed.

Mike's conclusion sums up much of the state of the IT industry concerning machine learning:

At most enterprises, operations have not taken the next step. Operations staff doesn't have the resources (neither computational nor human) to apply machine intelligence to our problems. We'd have to capture all the data coming off our servers for extended periods, not just the server logs that we capture now, but any every kind of data we can collect: network data, environmental data, I/O subsystem data, you name it.

As someone who works for a company that applies a form of machine learning (Behavior Learning for predictive analytics) to IT operations and application performance management, I read this with great interest. I didn't necessarily disagree with his conclusion but tried to pull apart the reasoning behind why more companies aren't applying algorithms to their IT data to look for problems.

There are at least three requirements for companies who want to move ahead in this area:

1. Establish maturity of one's monitoring infrastructure. This is the most fundamental point. If you want to apply machine intelligence to IT operations then you need to first add instrumentation and monitoring. Numerous monitoring products and approaches abound but you have to get the data before you can analyze it.

2. Coordinate multiple enterprise silos. Modern IT applications are increasingly complex and may cross multiple enterprise silos such as server virtualization, network, databases, application development, and other middleware components. Enterprises must be willing to coordinate between these multiple groups in gathering monitoring data and performing cross-functional troubleshooting when there are performance or uptime issues.

3. Incorporate business activity monitoring (BAM). Business activity data provides the "vital signs" of a business. Examples of retail business activity data include number of units sold, total gross sales, and total net sales for a time period. Knowing the true business impact of an application performance problem requires the correlation of business data. When an outage occurred for 20 minutes, how many fewer units were sold? What was the reduction in gross and net sales?

An organization that can fulfill these requirements is capable of achieving real benefits in IT operations and can successfully apply analytics. Gartner has established the ITScore Maturity Model for determining one's sophistication in availability and performance monitoring. Here is the description for level 5, which is the top tier:

Behavior Learning engines, embedded knowledge, advanced correlation, trend analysis, pattern matching, and integrated IT and business data from sources such as BAM provide IT operations with the ability to dynamically manage the IT infrastructure in line with business policy.

Applying machine learning to IT operations isn't easy. Most enterprises don't do it because they need to overcome organizational inertia and gather data from multiple groups scattered throughout the enterprise. For the organizations willing to do this, however, they will see tangible business benefits. Just as a hospital could algorithmically detect the failing health of a premature infant, an enterprise willing to use machine learning will visibly see how abnormal problems within IT operations can impact revenue.

More Stories By Richard Park

Richard Park is Director of Product Management at Netuitive. He currently leads Netuitive's efforts to integrate with application performance and cloud monitoring solutions. He has nearly 20 years of experience in network security, database programming, and systems engineering. Some past jobs include product management at Sourcefire and Computer Associates, network engineering and security at Booz Allen Hamilton, and systems engineering at UUNET Technologies (now part of Verizon). Richard has an MS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BA in Social Studies from Harvard University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
What's the role of an IT self-service portal when you get to continuous delivery and Infrastructure as Code? This general session showed how to create the continuous delivery culture and eight accelerators for leading the change. Don Demcsak is a DevOps and Cloud Native Modernization Principal for Dell EMC based out of New Jersey. He is a former, long time, Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, specializing in building and architecting Application Delivery Pipelines for hybrid legacy, and cloud ...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Me...
The reality of data ubiquity is here—data is buried in operational statistics, machine logs, stacks of overflowing tickets and customer details, among other things. How can any user get valuable information amid this rapid influx of data? Imagine a situation where your firm’s revenue takes a hit owing to an unexpected failure in some business process. It would be a nightmare for IT admins to sift through the interminable piles of data to deduce exactly why and where the problem occurred. To sav...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
"Tintri focuses on the Ops side of the DevOps, which basically is pushing more and more of the accessibility of the infrastructure to the developers and trying to get behind the scenes," explained Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann and Aruna Ravichandran have been named Co-Chairs of @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley which will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is at the intersection of technology and business-optimizing tools, organizations and processes to bring measurable improvements in productivity and profitability," said Aruna Ravichandran, vice president, DevOps product and solutions marketing...
Managing mission-critical SAP systems and landscapes has never been easy. Add public cloud with its myriad of powerful cloud native services and this may not change any time soon. Public cloud offers exciting new possibilities for enterprise workloads. But to make use of these possibilities and capabilities, IT teams need to re-think everything they have done before. Otherwise, they will just end up using public cloud as a hosting platform for their workloads, aka known as “lift and shift.”
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
In the decade following his article, cloud computing further cemented Carr’s perspective. Compute, storage, and network resources have become simple utilities, available at the proverbial turn of the faucet. The value they provide is immense, but the cloud playing field is amazingly level. Carr’s quote above presaged the cloud to a T. Today, however, we’re in the digital era. Mark Andreesen’s ‘software is eating the world’ prognostication is coming to pass, as enterprises realize they must be...
Hybrid IT is today’s reality, and while its implementation may seem daunting at times, more and more organizations are migrating to the cloud. In fact, according to SolarWinds 2017 IT Trends Index: Portrait of a Hybrid IT Organization 95 percent of organizations have migrated crucial applications to the cloud in the past year. As such, it’s in every IT professional’s best interest to know what to expect.
A common misconception about the cloud is that one size fits all. Companies expecting to run all of their operations using one cloud solution or service must realize that doing so is akin to forcing the totality of their business functionality into a straightjacket. Unlocking the full potential of the cloud means embracing the multi-cloud future where businesses use their own cloud, and/or clouds from different vendors, to support separate functions or product groups. There is no single cloud so...
Companies have always been concerned that traditional enterprise software is slow and complex to install, often disrupting critical and time-sensitive operations during roll-out. With the growing need to integrate new digital technologies into the enterprise to transform business processes, this concern has become even more pressing. A 2016 Panorama Consulting Solutions study revealed that enterprise resource planning (ERP) projects took an average of 21 months to install, with 57 percent of th...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are a monitoring company. We work with Salesforce, BBC, and quite a few other big logos. We basically provide monitoring for them, structure for their cloud services and we fit into the DevOps world" explained David Gildeh, Co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Colocation is a central pillar of modern enterprise infrastructure planning because it provides greater control, insight, and performance than managed platforms. In spite of the inexorable rise of the cloud, most businesses with extensive IT hardware requirements choose to host their infrastructure in colocation data centers. According to a recent IDC survey, more than half of the businesses questioned use colocation services, and the number is even higher among established businesses and busine...
For most organizations, the move to hybrid cloud is now a question of when, not if. Fully 82% of enterprises plan to have a hybrid cloud strategy this year, according to Infoholic Research. The worldwide hybrid cloud computing market is expected to grow about 34% annually over the next five years, reaching $241.13 billion by 2022. Companies are embracing hybrid cloud because of the many advantages it offers compared to relying on a single provider for all of their cloud needs. Hybrid offers bala...