Analytics and visualization techniques have long been used in scientific research to help professionals discover meaningful insights into large volumes of data. Analytics apply statistics and mathematical modeling to the vast amount of operational data generated by IT systems, including databases, applications, networks, security systems or cloud services. By integrating analytics capabilities into system management tools, IT professionals can more quickly perform capacity planning, performance optimization, scenario planning and risk analysis. Analytics can even enable predictive management where IT managers can anticipate potential problems before they happen by factoring in past system occurrences.
Analytics are becoming critical to the IT department’s decision-making process. They enable the consolidation of large amounts of data from various systems and highlight patterns that can lead to improved performance. Analytic systems can correlate data to determine problem areas by looking at historic trends and near-real-time data.
Enterprise systems are becoming too complex, too numerous and generate too many metrics to enable individuals to manually understand where problem areas lie. The need to bring machine intelligence to the system management task is essential, as the business demands placed on IT systems continue to increase. Analytics represent the next generation of IT problem-solving. This is one of the key technologies that will help rescue users who are drowning in data.
A Picture Tells the Story
A few people can look at a page of numbers and see meaningful patterns but many find the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” accurate. Graphics allow us to quickly and intuitively understand data in a way that isn’t possible with printed metrics. With modern visualization techniques, system performance metrics can be represented in graphical format to enable the quick understanding of problem areas and the discovery of potential solutions. Graphical representations can bring about more rapid root cause analysis in time-critical situations. It also enables less technical personnel to understand complicated problems and intuit potential solutions.
Companies prefer using management tools delivered through a thin-client user interface accessed through a Web browser. Today’s technology allows Web applications to behave like installed applications but with the advantages of easy access and zero distribution and maintenance on desktops. Dashboards are a simple and powerful way to quickly assess status, providing a starting point to zero in on problems more quickly.
A Web application can deliver network performance charts, including real-time network flow analysis data and historical network growth data. It can also provide system and application performance charts.
Best of all, performance management capabilities can be delivered to mobile devices, letting on-the-go professionals receive system alerts and status updates via graphical smartphone and tablet apps. System performance data and analytics are taken from the back-end management systems and displayed as intuitive graphics on PCs or mobile devices in a browser using standard compliant HTML.
These visualizations can reduce the time it takes to understand performance data, find relationships between various sets of transactional data and make informed decisions about how to address problems.
The advantage of Web or mobile apps is the amount of information displayed to the user at any one time. Traditional text-based management systems often deliver too much information without filtering the information and delivering the needed information in context in a visual manner that allows the end-user to immediately recognize a potential issue affecting critical applications.
Analytics and visualization help automate the increasingly complex task of managing the vast and varied interconnected systems that make up today’s IT environments. They also give IT staff the types of apps and user experience they’ve come to expect from their graphical Web and mobile applications.