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, which usually reports to the chief information officer (CIO). It is 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.
AI capabilities such as natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) models are being used to automate ITOps tasks like collecting and aggregating huge volumes of data, separating, and prioritizing significant event alerts from the noise of IT operations data, and correlating data to identify root causes and propose solutions.
Whether it’s the financial industry, telecommunications or retail, today’s businesses and their customers rely on immediate access to applications and expect seamless customer experiences. This requires optimal performance from applications and the supporting IT resources that the applications run on, such as public cloud and private cloud infrastructure, data, networks and services. Even a brief IT outage can have a significant impact on business operations and quickly become costly. The primary role of IT operations is to ensure the smooth performance of IT and business technologies so that business operations can proceed uninterrupted.
The responsibilities of ITOps include:
ITOps is often confused with IT operations management (ITOM) since both are closely involved in keeping IT services up and running. While ITOps refers to the people, roles and tasks related to IT service management, ITOM refers to the management processes and tools used to maintain the technology components, computing requirements and business processes companies use each day. ITOps teams oversee the services within the IT environment as well as the availability of all resources and IT applications, whether this is in day-to-day tasks or longer-term strategic planning. ITOM, a subset of ITOps, comprises the routine processes that ensure the overall quality, efficiency and end-user experience of IT resource delivery and the tools used to accomplish this goal.
DevOps aims to speed the delivery of higher quality software by automating and integrating the efforts of development and IT operations teams. By linking these previously siloed units, organizations can build a software development and delivery process with continuous communication, collaboration and shared responsibility. The end result is faster workflows and streamlined processes that meet software users’ ever-increasing demand for frequent, innovative new features and uninterrupted performance and availability.
In the DevOps model, IT teams support the software development and testing process by providing configuration, installation and troubleshooting support, database management and network infrastructure management. They also ensure the infrastructure is meeting the needs of the development team. One way this is accomplished is by leveraging Application Resource Management (ARM) tools to guarantee applications have the resources they need, when they need it.
Throughout the DevOps lifecycle, both IT and development teams work to identify dependencies and test for issues, often using automation. DevOps and ITOps use Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and observability tools to automatically analyze the root cause of issues and receive immediate feedback at each step of the software delivery pipeline when deploying new code or making changes to the system. This collaboration allows continuous delivery and deployment pipelines to flow smoothly and efficiently, enabling faster time to market for new applications and enhancements.
AIOps is the application of artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, such as natural language processing and machine learning models, to automate and streamline operational workflows. AIOps not only creates opportunities for automation and efficiency, but also directly addresses a significant challenge facing IT teams today. 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. Gartner estimates that the average enterprise IT infrastructure generates two to three times more IT operations data every year.
To better manage and leverage this data, IT operations teams are relying less on domain-based IT management tools and manual monitoring and intervention, and turning increasingly to data-driven, AI-powered automation.
AIOps enables IT operations teams to be more agile and responsive by helping to:
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