A business moves to a cloud based solution for many reasons. Scalability is one, as is connectivity. Increased security usually wins the list of requirements, alongside greater resilience, redundancy and guaranteed uptime. Then there is the plethora of ‘as a service’ style software solutions, all of which have to be built, configured, and populated with data and access by users. All of this takes time, effort, planning and a great deal of testing.
Then one day, a day that to many felt like it would never arrive, the work is done. The cloud migration project is complete. It’s up and running and there are pats on the backs of all those in the project team that undertook this Herculean technical challenge – and won.
Now what? With all the technology quietly humming along in the cloud what happens next? This is where the real fun begins, this is where cloud analytics, or IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) comes into play.
Analytical tools have been part of the IT managers kit bag for years, so it was natural that as cloud platforms developed these style tools would be developed alongside. Anybody with even a rudimentary website will be well aware of Google Analytics and its incredibly rich toolset for digging into all the hits, traffic and downloads that occur.
However a business that has moved many of its applications and datasets to a cloud platform is going to need more than just website analytics tools – even if they do operate in a similar manner. To date one of the things that causes a business problems is fractured reporting tools, which will provide a disparate view of the business. Too many departments all using differing tools, providing small slices of data formatted in their own chosen style leads to a solution where rarely does one individual have the big picture. Hence the desired outcome for any cloud analysis platform has to be a unified vision.
If the unified vision is coupled with simple and smooth accessibility, compared to some of the in-house tools that may have been used in the past, then users will be swift to adopt them.
The market for these tool sets is expanding quickly with IDC predicting that the worldwide ITOA market was worth just under $2billion in 2016 and set to expand in line with the cloud market itself.
Beyond the immediate productivity benefit, ITOA will also significantly improve security. Most public cloud providers have levels of security that are far higher than in house managed environments, plus by their very design cloud systems have less complex architecture – although on a very large scale. Meaning they are easier to monitor and easier to defend in the event of an attack or breach and should there be a disaster they can recover in a more timely manner.
Moving to cloud will always be a strategic decision, based on many differing considerations, from volumes of data, security, connectivity, resilience and redundancy, but rapidly joining that list is ITOA. It needs to be considered from an operational point of view, ensuring that service levels are maintained, and also from the point of view on how users can extract salient, up-to-date and non-conflicting information on the performance of the business.
When discussing cloud, the word ‘journey’ is so often used because it will have been a huge undertaking to migrate some or all of a business’s key IT systems off premise. Implementing ITOA is just the next step on that journey and it’s one that many CIOs are going to be keen to take very soon.