Dashboarding the Future of ITOps
I remember the days when using awk, sed and grep on a log file was a really powerful way to extract useful data to help troubleshoot issues, or better plan a complex application deployment and management.
Now the amount of data that is generated by systems, applications and devices has proliferated to the extent that we are unable to use the old techniques to get information from the systems managed today.
A popular route for analysts is to download software on their laptops to help with this challenge and one of the more popular choices is visual analytics from Splunk. This personal need and learning has driven a “Shadow IT” style of adoption of the tool for Operational Intelligence in organisations. The Computacenter UK Infrastructure Operations team experienced some early success in this very manner. The initial benefits were amazing, but thought was needed on how to evaluate it as a corporate tool in order to drive operational efficiency and intelligence across the Global Managed Services Business.
On consideration of using a traditional approach for a proof of concept and pilot phase, which would take weeks to plan and more time to execute, it was decided to try a different approach. Something more agile was needed in order to benefit from quick results, the ability to test the software, its ease of use, and the other business benefits it could drive.
So with a little gamification and the flexibility of our Solutions Center, a competition was conceived…
The competition was to run for four-weeks only between teams from across the Computacenter Group. The challenge was to use Splunk’s visual analytics tool to address a Managed Services business problem in four weeks with just an afternoon’s worth of training. The teams were based in the UK, Germany, South Africa, Hungary and Spain, from both Service Desk and Infrastructure Operations.
All participants were given an overview of the tool and as mentioned before, half a day training which was run from the Solutions Center in Hatfield and broadcast across to the other countries via live presentation and video feed. A central infrastructure was provided with the software pre-installed.
The results were amazing, all the participants were data analysts so knew exactly what they wanted to get out of their data and were able to visualise it in the short space of time given to them. With varying help from Splunk experts, all were able to create compelling business-relevant dashboards, in just four weeks with very little training and while still doing their operational day jobs.
The results have allowed us to view what the art of the possible can be and now we can start further planning the use of this innovation driving software.