Practical Tips for Evaluating Intelligent Ops Partners and Solutions
What is Intelligent Ops?
Want to learn more? Dive deeper with our comprehensive Intelligent Ops guide.
As artificial intelligence (AI) solutions evolve, more companies are looking to AIOps to streamline their IT (Information Technology) operations. AIOps automatically identifies, triages, and resolves security incidents and other challenges, enhancing IT efficiency.
Yet, many contemporary AIOps tools focus narrowly on IT departments, sidelining broader business needs. Enter Intelligent Ops—a next-generation evolution of AIOps, built on three foundational pillars:
- AIOps: Integrated monitoring provides precise visibility and control over complex IT infrastructures and incidents.
- FinOps: In-depth insights and strategic optimization reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
- SecOps: Leveraging AI, cloud integration, and automation ensures swift detection and resolution of security threats.
With Intelligent Ops, enterprises adopt a holistic strategy, using AI and automation to tackle both familiar and unforeseen challenges. In this article, we will delve into how to evaluate and choose the right Intelligent Ops partner for your needs.
What to look for in an Intelligent Ops partner and solution
Implementing an effective Intelligent Ops platform is challenging. It demands time, effort, and significant resources. One study found that the average time to hire an IT position to be around 62 days, with specialist roles, like data scientist taking even longer. Extending the duration of any initiative creates significant risk to a successful outcome.
A practical alternative is partnering with Intelligent Ops experts. They offer experience, expertise, and a suite of established processes and tools. When evaluating potential partners, focus on their Intelligent Ops approach and the solutions they provide.
Evaluating an Intelligent Ops partner
It is crucial to ensure any partner can deliver. But with a nascent area like Intelligent Ops, knowing what to ask can be tricky. Let us delve into some pivotal questions for assessing an Intelligent Ops partner:
- Multi-Cloud or Hybrid Cloud Support
- Clear Understanding of AI
- Support for the Entire Organization
- Clear Path to Value
Multi-cloud and hybrid cloud support
Currently, 87% of organizations have multi-cloud deployments, and 72% have hybrid clouds bridging on-prem and cloud-based setups. This trend means businesses grapple with a multifaceted and ever-evolving backdrop when integrating AIOps or Intelligent Ops.
Your partner should adeptly support your entire IT framework without introducing silos or added complexity. Here are some questions to get started:
- Are you cloud-forward? What does that entail? A cloud-forward vendor should articulate a clear cloud-centric product or solution strategy. They must also staff experts across their organization to guarantee top-tier technology adoption.
- Will one team handle support for multiple cloud environments? Ensure your partner's cloud experts join your implementation team. This inclusion prevents potential delays and silos during the development and setup phases.
- Can you highlight multi-cloud and hybrid expertise? An apt Intelligent Ops partner has experience in these settings. Discussing partnerships, certifications, and case studies can confirm that a prospective partner is not tethered to a single cloud platform.
- How swiftly can you deploy in my setup? An experienced partner usually possesses a structured method and toolkit, allowing them to promptly establish an Intelligent Ops initiative within an organization’s distinct IT infrastructure. This approach accelerates and simplifies the deployment phase.
Clear understanding of AI
Your Intelligent Ops partner should have a mature understanding of AI’s capabilities and make the best use of available solutions and its family. For example, if they are well-versed in Azure OpenAI, they should also be able to speak to Azure’s Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, and the rest of the Microsoft Azure platform.
Some key questions to ask might include:
- What experience do you have in AI? A partner should be able to demonstrate the company's experience and its staff through certifications or qualifications in AI. Even better, a company may have won awards related to its use of AI or has several working proofs of concept to demonstrate potential value.
- What AI-related specializations do you hold? A partner with the ability to customize and tune models and tools to meet business needs will have data scientists and engineers on staff and working to support their platform.
- Do you have early access to provider technology? Partners with strong relationships to providers often receive early access to provider technology, such as beta access to Microsoft Fabric. They also frequently act as a crucial feedback channel during the product's development. This gives implementers a deeper understanding of the product and insights into optimizing its use.
- Can you demonstrate your AI expertise across multiple domains? A partner should be able to demonstrate expertise in infrastructure, data, applications, and operations. Again, ask for case studies, demos, and recommendations from past projects.
- What questions do you have about my goals and users? A partner should ask questions about your users and their objectives for an Intelligent Ops program. These will be used to define metrics and customize models and rules.
- What existing patterns and frameworks have you created or used? An experienced partner will be able to accelerate time-to-go-live because they have existing processes and frameworks defined based on experience. A lack of existing tools and processes may indicate a lack of experience and provide limited value beyond a DIY approach.
Support the entire organization
A major limitation of AIOps in its current implementation is its restricted focus. Traditional AIOps primarily zeroes in on identifying potential issues, generating tickets, and running predefined playbooks for automated, scalable remediation.
On the other hand, Intelligent Ops adopts a comprehensive approach, aiming to support the whole organization. When considering a potential partner, you should ask:
- How do you intertwine FinOps and SecOps with AIOps? Integration should be seamless, offering all capabilities through a single dashboard instead of multiple isolated solutions.
- What is your method for knowledge sharing? The ideal partner will not only solve issues but also empower you to better navigate your tools and settings. If they only identify and implement a solution, you risk becoming reliant on them for even small adjustments.
- What is your vision for the client and environment in the long run? Ultimately, an organization should be self-sufficient, steering clear of dependency on any specific vendor.
Clear path to value
Embarking on an Intelligent Ops initiative can span years if done incorrectly. This presents substantial risks related to deployment, ROI (return on investment), and obtaining stakeholder approval. To truly harness the advantages of Intelligent Ops, a transparent and feasible route to its perks is essential.
Make sure to ask:
- Can you highlight prior experience crafting Intelligent Ops initiatives? Seek out case studies or client references that illustrate their record of accomplishment in tailoring Intelligent Ops to diverse business contexts.
- Tell me about the tools, people and processes that expedite the implementation. Finding out if they offer an accelerator, a set of repeatable tools, processes, and frameworks, that can accelerate delivery. If you are in a regulated industry, ask if they have subject matter experts to quickly address sticky conversations around PII (Personal Identifiable Information), PCI v4, and others.
- How do they liaise with stakeholders throughout the company? Given that Intelligent Ops encompasses AIOps, FinOps, and SecOps, understanding their strategy with stakeholders in these domains is crucial.
Security and compliance
Data stands as an enterprise's crown jewel. Equipped with in-depth insights into an IT infrastructure, cyber adversaries can effortlessly pinpoint and leverage potential security voids.
In evaluating a prospective Intelligent Ops ally, it is vital to ascertain their competency in safeguarding data in line with company standards and regulatory mandates. Try posing some of these questions:
- Tell me about your security protocols. Ask for specifics on their response strategy should a security breach involving your data or system arise.
- Are you compliant with relevant standards? If they have access to your data, you might bear the onus of verifying compliance with pertinent regulations. It is reasonable to request evidence of certifications such as SOC 2, PCI DSS v4.0, or other pertinent ones.
- Do you possess the necessary security credentials? For those in stringently regulated sectors, there might be additional prerequisites surpassing general regulatory adherence. For instance, personnel accessing confidential data or enterprise systems might need specific certifications or clearances.
- What industry-specific requirements should we consider? As discussed above, various industries carry different requirements that may impact your Intelligent Ops implementation. Your partner should be able to speak to these prior to a deployment.
Evaluating an Intelligent Ops Solution
An intelligent Ops solution extends beyond just AIOps, delivering value to the entire business. When evaluating such a solution, ensure it aligns with the three key pillars: AIOps, FinOps, and SecOps, and understand the benefits each pillar provides. Below are some areas to probe when looking at proposed solutions.
- Streamlined incident remediation
- Low latency
- Secure, Compliant Support
Streamlined incident remediation
Intelligent Ops solutions aim to help organizations identify and address potential issues before they escalate. That is great in theory, but how does the solution compare to what is promised? Consider the following questions to help:
- What does your incident remediation process entail? An Intelligent Ops platform should harness AI, ML (Machine Learning), and integrations to pinpoint issues and suggest remediation steps for review and implementation. What are these and how do they fit together?
- How do you reduce alert volume and highlight critical issues? A robust Intelligent Ops Platform employs comprehensive monitoring and sophisticated data analytics to detect potential problems, delivering high-quality alerts. By filtering, triaging, and consolidating alerts, the platform aims to decrease alert fatigue.
- How does your solution factor in resource limitations during incident remediation? An Intelligent Ops solution should recognize system constraints, proposing and executing remediation actions with these limitations in mind. For instance, the capability to swiftly allocate more storage or computing power on a virtualized system might grant additional time to address a memory leak or a similar concern.
- Does your solution have a UI (User Interface)? Intelligent Ops solutions with chatGPT-like interfaces can simplify related tasks by employing natural language processing (NLP) to articulate the issue and suggest specific remediation steps. For example, they can understand and act upon a malfunctioning SQL index.
In dealing with security incidents and other challenges, promptness is essential. The longer an issue persists, the more costly it becomes for the company and its clients.
An Intelligent Ops platform should prioritize minimizing latency during issue identification and remediation. Here are some questions to ponder:
- How swiftly does the platform address various challenges? Request case studies, demonstrations, or benchmarks that highlight the AI's efficiency in handling prevalent issues.
- How does the platform rank remediation tasks? It is common for a company to face multiple issues simultaneously. Your prospective partner should have a set criteria for ranking remediation tasks and allow customization to cater to your specific requirements.
- Is there a designated "express lane" for familiar issues? Ideally, if a problem can be discerned without comprehensive analytics, it should be tackled immediately. Waiting for complete processing could delay the solution and potentially worsen the situation.
Security and compliance (again)
An Intelligent Ops platform has access to a wealth of sensitive information about an organization’s environment. This same data, which can diagnose and rectify issues, can also pinpoint and exploit vulnerabilities.
When assessing Intelligent Ops solutions, prioritize the security of the platform itself. Key considerations include:
- Is the Intelligent Ops platform in a secure setting? A partner’s platform will access sensitive IT data and execute remediation measures. It must align with your organization’s current data security policies and compliance mandates.
- Does the platform adhere to standards set for highly-regulated industries? Such industries often impose rigorous stipulations on data and infrastructure hosting locations. For instance, a partner’s environment might need to comply with GovCloud standards.
- Are third-party data security risks within acceptable limits? Insight into a partner’s security measures is crucial for making a well-informed risk assessment regarding the solution's use. The partner should offer sufficient details to help you gauge if their platform aligns with your risk tolerances, especially when entrusting critical IT data to an external entity.
- How are access and permissions managed in your solution? No two Intelligent Ops implementations will ever be the same. Ensure your solution has the right levels of access and controls with the systems and users connected to it.
Building an Intelligent Ops program with Neudesic
Neudesic’s Intelligent Ops Accelerator and experts helps organizations leapfrog their current state to Intelligent Ops. It is why Neudesic earned the title of Microsoft’s US AI Partner of the Year (POTY) for 2023.
The Neudesic Intelligent Ops Accelerator harnesses Neudesic’s proficiencies and pre-existing solutions, adapting them to suit an organization’s unique environment and business objectives. This accelerator empowers organizations to swiftly automate deployments via Infrastructure as Code (IaC) and supports an array of solutions, including ServiceNow and DataDog, to feed data into Neudesic’s Intelligent Ops platform. Drawing on this data, users can engage with the platform in natural language and obtain automated notifications and remediation recommendations for detected concerns.
Neudesic’s Intelligent Ops Accelerator enables businesses to seamlessly establish a top-notch Intelligent Ops program. For additional details about the program and the next steps to embark on this journey, contact us.