IT Tools for IT Jobs
Getting work done often requires specific tools. In the digital domain, the tools needed are also digital, in other words, data and data processing are required to facilitate data processing. This sounds like a circular reference, but this is reality.
The IT Infrastructure and Operations (IT I&O) team is responsible for making sure that data and data processing are available in ways that meet the needs of their organization, its employees, and its customers. They must architect, deploy, validate, manage, and secure the IT environment. Proactively preventing and rapidly solving planned and unplanned security and performance problems are paramount. They also must assure exceptional end-user experiences and maximum effectiveness of the operational technology that facilitates core business processes.
As the title of this blog suggests, the IT Infrastructure and Operations team also needs data and data processing to do their jobs to achieve the objectives and related tasks mentioned above.
Tools such as monitors, probes, analyzers, and dashboards are just some of the tools that are needed that provide network-perspective visibility into cyber risks and performance. Many of these tools are software applications that operate on IT data (aka data processing). The typical sources and types of IT data, often reference in the context of Observability are metrics, events, logs, traces, and network packet data. It can be argued that network packet data is a hybrid data source that encompasses events, logs, and traces. It is also noteworthy that metrics can be derived from network packet data.
Data Processing Creates Observability that Augments IT and Assists Them
The IT I&O team is vital to organizational operations, its evolution, efficiency, profitability, competitive advantage, and growth. Their responsibility is huge and their workload often exceeds capacity, which is to say that the IT I&O team has many balls to juggle.
IT I&O tools help immensely help to juggle broad responsibility, multiple tasks, and evolving complexity. IT I&O tools augment the team’s skills, assist their efforts, and automate tasks so the team can efficiently and confidently assure the security and operation of the IT infrastructure, data, services, and digital experiences.
IT Must Transform Along with Data Processing Dynamics
Data processing has been evolving at an increasing rate since its inception. Presently the combination of digital native organizations, digital transformation, AI transformation, and cyber threats are driving an increasing need to harness data and use new data processing technologies. Virtualized cloud computing and machine learning are prime examples of new data processing technologies that are gaining rapid adoption.
These transformations plus cloud and hybrid infrastructure are driving consolidation, expansion, and migration projects that are accelerating the ongoing challenges and tasks that the IT I&O team must juggle.
Data Processing Facilitates Desired Outcomes
Investments in IT I&O tools are made to achieve one high-level goal – to enable organizations and their stakeholders to realize specific desired outcomes that generally include the combination of unique and scalable digital services and operational efficiency that create a defensible and sustained business competitive advantage.
Given the responsibilities, tasks, and stress the IT I&O team is constantly under, data processing also provides them with much-needed assistance to offload recurring and often mundane tasks (a favorable outcome for sure). Just as the IT I&O team provides the data and data processing foundation to the organization, the team must also provide the same foundation to itself to have continuous actionable intelligence that constantly lets them know that everything is OK. If everything is not OK, then they need to know what problems are present, their scope, impact, causation, and the most efficient remediation. Such a comprehensive level of actionable intelligence helps solve problems expeditiously to keep MTTR, stress, frustration, related costs, and time spent away from creating business value as low as possible.
Actionable IT Intelligence is an Outcome of Advanced Analytics Data Processing
Actionable intelligence for the IT I&O team is obtained by applying analytics (including advanced analytics) to IT data obtained from equipment logs, monitoring fabric, and other IT Observability methods. Network packet data along with logs and traces are the primary data types. Network packet data is immutable and rich with insights, which makes it beneficial because the following understandings can be extracted from it:
- Connectivity success and latencies
- Responsiveness (i.e., throughput, roundtrip times)
- Who and what are accessing the network and the resources within it, and when
- Data flowing into and out of the network
- Cyber risk indicators of compromise/indicators of attack
The types of data processing the I&O team uses, typically analytics, includes:
- Cyber Risk Prevention and Detection such as IDPS Firewalls, Zero Trust IAM, NDR/XDR, SIEM, SOAR, etc.
- Network Performance Management and Diagnostics (NPMD)
- Data visualization for analysts, and NOC and SOC dashboards
- Application Performance Management (APM)
- Other analytics to gain visibility, observability, and fuel AI-powered solutions for IT Operations (aka AIOps)
Summary – Why Data Processing is Fundamental for IT Operations
Monitoring, visibility, and observability are interrelated and are fueled by IT data, with network packet data being very rich and valuable for IT I&O tools and the resultant IT intelligence. Using modern data and data processing for IT operational efficiency is, therefore, paramount to maximize the betterment of the organization, its lines of business, and for the IT I&O team to have a healthy work-life balance.
There is a saying that to be an efficient woodcutter you must sometimes stop cutting and sharpen your ax and saw blades. Indeed. Availing yourself as an IT I&O professional to data and data processing is analogous to sharpening your blade – making sure that your tools are helping you as much as possible.
Be on the lookout for the next blog in this series that will cover why it is important to understand that network monitoring is about more than just the network.