What is IT operations (ITOps)?
Information technology operations - more commonly referred to as IT operations, or ITOps - is the process of implementing, managing, delivering and supporting IT services to meet the business needs of internal and external users.
ITOps is the core function of the IT department, and one of the four functions (along with technical management, application management and service desk management) defined in the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), the de facto industry standard best-practices framework for IT service management.
ITOps is at the forefront of IT service delivery, one of the most important cogs in the machinery that keeps an organization running. Businesses and their customers have become so reliant on instant access to IT services - data, software applications, public cloud and private cloud resources - that even a small interruption to these services can have far-reaching and costly consequences.
In recent years, ITOps tasks have been increasingly taken on by artificial intelligence (AI) software, forming a new sub-field of IT operations called artificial intelligence operations, usually referred to as AIOps.
ITOps management responsibilities and processes
Typically reporting to the chief information officer (CIO), IT operations creates management processes to accommodate all IT needs of an organization. The four main IT operations management (ITOM) responsibilities are:
- Infrastructure management: Infrastructure management refers to the setup, provisioning, maintenance and updating of all the hardware and software in the organization - physical servers, network infrastructure, operating systems, hypervisors, platforms, container environments, application software - in on-premises data centers or in the cloud. It is the IT operations team's responsibility to ensure that all infrastructure components run smoothly and new solutions are integrated seamlessly.
- Development management: IT Ops provides exact guidelines, goals, security standards and workflow that software development teams need to succeed. IT operations teams need to work closely with DevOps team members to integrate stability, performance and security solutions into the development lifecycle, and to ensure compliance with service level agreements (SLAs) and industry and government regulations.
- Problem management: Problem management - also called incident management or event management - can be split up into two categories: preventative measures and reactive measures. Preventative measures anticipate and avoid the negative impact of changes to the IT environment. Reactive measures deal with outages, cyberattacks and other problems as they occur, and include implementation of disaster recovery and help desk services.
- Security management: Security is an integral part of IT service management (ITSM) and needs to be integrated with each of the before-mentioned responsibilities. This includes keeping the hardware and software secure, managing access control, implementing security within DevOps processes and ensuring security standards are met across the environment.
AIOps : The future of IT operations
IT infrastructure components, applications and performance monitoring tools generate huge volumes of IT operations data - volumes that increase rapidly as organizations undertake digital transformation and adopt cloud computing services and hybrid cloud environments. In fact, global research and advisory firm Gartner estimates that the average enterprise IT infrastructure generates two to three times more IT operations data every year.
In order to better deal with and leverage this data, IT operations teams are relying less on domain-based IT management tools and manual monitoring and intervention, and turning to increasingly to data-driven, AI-powered automation - launching what's now known as AIOps. According to Gartner (link resides outside IBM), which coined the term in 2017, “AIOps combines big data and machine learning to automate IT operations processes, including event correlation, anomaly detection and causality determination.”
AIOps enables IT operations teams to be more agile and responsive by helping them
- Separate significant event alerts from the 'noise' of the surrounding IT operations data
- Identify root causes of problems and propose solutions
- Automate incident management and response, including real-time responses and proactive resolutions
- Achieve the visibility and automation needed to support DevOps teams, without added management effort
- Learn continually to improve response to - and prevention of - future issues.
ITOps and IBM Cloud®
While IBM Cloud allows you to build and deploy across multicloud architectures and existing IT, IBM can also help prepare you for the future of IT operations with new automation tools. Enabling new AI-powered operations efficiencies can provide centralized visibility across all environments so your operations teams can diagnose problems and resolve incidents faster.
Any moves toward business-wide and IT-wide automation should start with small, measurably successful projects, which you can then scale and optimize for other processes and in other parts of your organization.
Working with IBM, you'll have access to AI-powered automation capabilities, including prebuilt workflows, to make every IT services process more intelligent, freeing up teams to focus on the most important IT issues and accelerate innovation.
Take the next step:
- Explore IBM Cloud Pak® for Watson AIOPs, which feeds insights and recommendations directly into your team workflows to speed incident resolution.
- Register to download the Gartner report and discover how to future-proof your IT operations with AI.
- Download the IBM Cloud infographic (PDF, 464 KB) that shows the benefits of AI-powered automation for IT operations.
Get started with an IBM Cloud account today.