Like it or not, when you outsource your IT operations you cede control and the ability to perform effective IT oversight. While the prevailing logic is something like ‘as long as I achieve my service level targets, why should I care about how the sausage is made?’, for all their benefits, outsourcing arrangements create many risks for IT and business stakeholders. The good news is that technology advances now let you take back control and mitigate these risks without losing the benefits of outsourcing. All it takes is a relatively small investment in AIOps.
So, what are these risks and how can AIOps help?
Negotiating SLAs in the Dark
Because most IT operations outsourcing today is “black boxed”, one major risk is a lack of visibility to your data and transparency about your outsourcer’s proprietary process. Even if your outsourcing partner is meeting service-level targets, you should still understand what exactly you are getting for your money and whether there is a better, more cost-effective way to achieve IT goals. You may have agreed to service-level terms based on potentially outdated assumptions about what is possible and reasonable, perhaps based on your own experience managing a largely manual process. As a result, you may have set a performance baseline that is inherently based on low expectations – and that only benefits outsourcers. Further, if you grade service providers purely on contracted service-level attainment without any real ability to exert IT operations oversight or control, your outsourcing partner has no incentive to innovate and raise the bar. You end up defaulting to that oft-used proxy for control and oversight – the RFP at contract renewal time.
In contrast, AIOps provides a window into IT operations performance that IT leaders can leverage to empower themselves with the insights to keep their services partners honest. Visibility and insight into IT operations processes and their underlying performance data and metrics gives you the basis to negotiate continuous improvement in SLAs and year over year cost reductions – whether at renewal time or in the middle of the contract term. For example, you can push back on demands to add server capacity if you can show that existing resources are not being utilized efficiently. With AIOps you are no longer powerless. You can drive a fact-based discussion to make reasonable demands from your service partner – reasonable because your outsourcing partner can benefit from the same insights to drive continuous improvement for you without needlessly sacrificing margins.
Maintaining Service-Level Continuity Through Transitions
What happens if you decide to transition to another outsourcer or bring IT operations in house? This could be precipitated by your service provider’s poor performance, an M&A event, or even a strategic change such as a decision to insource. It can be problematic if your outsourcer has implemented proprietary processes and tools – often done with the hidden agenda of making switching costs prohibitive in order to lock you in and maintain account control. It’s highly unlikely that your provider’s proprietary tools (or even their proprietary implementation of SAP’s Solution Manager) are AI-based and contain any behavioral profiles or insights – and whatever data that is collected is either not portable or will require a lot of manual effort to transform into other formats or to analyze. As a result, you have no established baselines for “before and after” Known Good States. You have no way to achieve continuity in service levels. You are starting from scratch.
With AIOps software from an independent vendor like FogLogic, usage isn’t reliant on an outsourcing partner. Changing outsourcers will not result in either data loss or learnings and insight loss. With AIOps, you not only build and preserve system and performance behavior history, your AIOps system gets smarter over time.
Minimizing Business Disruptions and Achieving Service-Level Goals
AIOps is both a window into IT operations performance and a tool for improving it. Insisting that your service providers use your chosen AIOps platform to modernize operations is a win-win for you and your outsourcing partner. You get the visibility, oversight and control benefits while reducing risk to the business, and you both enjoy the benefits of AI and machine-learning technology for anomaly detection, incident contextualization, and proactive resolution to drive continuous improvement in system availability and service levels. Service providers can maintain their profit margins even as they help you reduce operational costs and increase customer satisfaction.
One of the unintended consequences of outsourcing IT operations is that you are largely at the mercy of your outsourcer during contract negotiations and budgeting exercises because you have relinquished control of a vital IT function. The vice grip will get tighter over time as your outsourcer takes measures to increase account control with proprietary practices and tools. With AIOps, you can continue to enjoy the economic benefits of outsourcing while mitigating the risks. You can get back into the driver’s seat rather than being taken for a ride.