Analytics – transforming IT departments into true business partners

'Without the insight and visibility that analytics provides, the planning, demonstration and measurement of any migration project will only ever be subjective'

 Analytics – transforming IT departments into true business partners

Data analytics are becoming increasingly essential in the management of ever more varied and complex IT environments, and the making of informed business decisions.

CIOs and IT managers are provided with important operational and business data – in real time – and, by analysing this data, will then be equipped with clear and full visibility of the performance of their organisation’s IT infrastructure. This analysis will, in turn, help them to improve its security and allow them to make more sound business decisions.

The insight and intelligence that can be gleaned from using analytics in this way can transform the IT department from being a cost centre within a business to being a true partner.

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The following three examples demonstrate how IT analytics can be deployed to solve some of the key challenges faced by today’s CIOs.

Insight into intrusions

As seen in the headlines each day, large, high-profile companies are regularly being compromised by external hackers and malicious insiders. Where once such attacks were carried out simply for prestige or revenge, they can now lead to significant financial, reputational and legal damage, from which it can be hard to recover.

Worryingly, most organisations aren’t aware that they’ve been compromised until corporate or private information appears online or falls into the hands of a competitor.

All such attacks share two common aspects. Firstly, the organisations in question finds out too late that it’s been compromised, often weeks or even months after the first intrusion. Secondly, that first intrusion can always be traced back to the actions of an end-user, deliberate or otherwise.

There is a clear lack of visibility therefore into these actions and, as a result, little means of anticipating breaches of an organisation’s security.

This lack of visibility, at a time when attacks are becoming more sophisticated and complex, means that traditional, signature-based detection methods have become less effective.

ITOA, however, by focusing on behavioural patterns and understanding the wider context behind them, can provide IT teams with clearer insight into any unusual activity. In allowing them to more quickly identify and isolate an intrusion, they will be better able to avoid complex, damaging and potentially expensive situations.

Meaningful context

IT analytics can be used to automate the discovery of applications used within an organisation, not only by listing those currently installed, but also by providing a full context of their use based on criteria such as location, department and job role.

The relationships between devices, servers and communication ports can be revealed, for example, along with their dependence on the infrastructure, providing IT managers with a meaningful qualitative and quantitative context.

From this, the volume of traffic, the number of connections and their duration can be analysed for a real-time snapshot that allows intelligent business decisions to be made.

Analysing data in this way can also allow for more methodical ways of successfully planning and executing IT projects. Budget requirements can be more easily verified, and deadlines assessed to ensure a more positive outcome for end-users, the IT team and the overall business itself.

Perhaps most crucial to a project’s ongoing success, are the improvements that IT analytics offer over traditional methods of measurement, which can often be time-consuming, potentially inaccurate and costly.

Encouraging end-user adoption

Migration projects are one particular instance when the perspective of the end-user is crucial before, during and after. By deploying analytics, IT departments will be able to understand the context of where and how applications currently connect, and to ensure that these connections are maintained in any subsequent iteration.

This context is important to help ensure that all workstations are ready and able to support the new version, and any new configurations such as patches, and updates to operating systems, that will affect disk space and health status.

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IT analytics are also valuable in encouraging the adoption of any new versions of business applications by end-users. IT departments will be better able to convince end-users of the benefits of the new version if they’re able to demonstrate the improved quality that it promises. One way of doing this, for example, would be to use IT analytics to offer a comparison of indicators such as the number of crashes or freezes before and after the migration.

Ultimately, without the insight and visibility that analytics provides, the planning, demonstration and measurement of any migration project will only ever be subjective.

Today’s environment is faster, more agile and more intelligent than ever before. Providing valuable and accurate insight in real time, enabling fast information sharing within the IT department and the wider business, and ensuring the security of business transactions, IT analytics is now a necessary and integral part of any company’s success.

 

Sourced from Vincent Bieri, Nexthink

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