Staying agile: data-driven IT operations

Staying agile: data-driven IT operations

Staying agile: data-driven IT operations

You got your agile application development methodology, and your DevOps, continuous integration and release. You got your combination of bare metal and virtualization, private, hybrid, and public cloud.

Great. If you got them right, your application development cycle is quick and adaptive, which means time to market is short, and your deployment options are flexible and elastic, which means you can provision effectively.

The flip side of that is complexity and opaqueness. It means you have a polyglot development environment with many moving parts, and a multitude of heterogeneous testing and deployment environments with numerous virtualization layers constantly reconfiguring.

So how do you keep track of your end-to-end IT operations? By utilizing a multitude of monitoring solutions: application performance management, Ops and Networking management and so on.

The problem is that each of these solutions, as great as it may be in what it does, only gives you a part of the bigger picture and lives in its own silo. So if you want to know how the latest fix in your application influenced server utilization, or get an idea of where bottlenecks causing downtime occur, you need to get a bunch of people with their laptops in a room and put their collective data and brains to work in an ad-hoc way.

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This is the problem OpsDataStore has identified and is out to solve.

Bernd Harzog, OpsDataStore founder and a performance management industry veteran, was ideally positioned to identify and act upon the issue. After building and selling a performance management solution to Citrix in 2004, Harzog spent the next years working as a performance management (PM) consultant with the likes of UBS and Credit Suisse.

Harzog was proficient with solutions like New Relic, AppDynamics, and Dynatrace, and helped his clients choose the best solutions for their needs, set them up and make the most of them. Harzog was beyond certified -- he had Non-Disclosure-Agreements (NDAs) with most PM vendors because of the intimate knowledge he had on their products.

He was, as he puts it, "perhaps the only person in the world with this kind of knowledge of what all of these competing vendors were doing and how they were doing it."

Still, when things went wrong, as they often do, fixing them was no easy feat even for Harzog. As each of these PM solutions only focused on part of the stack, and in addition many of these were competing with each other, integration was simply non-existent. This is precisely what Harzog decided to address with OpsDataStore, laying out and implementing a strategy to tackle each of the associated challenges.

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Challenge #1: huge space. Despite vendor efforts to expand their offering as much as possible (with Cisco's acquisition of AppDynamics being the latest example), the IT operations stack ranging from application development to infrastructure and networking monitoring is huge.

OpsDataStore decided early on that there was no point in trying to cover it all. What they did instead is strike deals with as many players as possible, in order to be able to collect and integrate their data and metrics.

Challenge #2: vendor access. Some vendors in this space, like AppDynamics, are open about their metrics and even have documented APIs that third parties can use. Others are cryptic, therefore special permissions and partnerships needed to be in place in order to work with them.

Harzog's reputation and relationships in the space definitely helped there, and as a result OpsDataStore has partnered with many key players.

Challenge #3: big data. What OpsDataStore needed to do sounds like a standard big data scenario: ingest, integrate, and reuse data from a variety of sources. That does not make it simple, but OpsDataStore was able to put together the right team to make this happen.

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