The old adage about plumbers being too busy to fix their own leaky tap is just as relevant to a CIO: both have the same challenge to keep everything running as their priority (water flowing) and make sure they are laser-focused on the business priorities (getting that new outlet installed). Yet system errors and data problems (drips) continue to plague IT Operations as they are too difficult to solve and only get addressed when the proverbial ‘hits the fan’ – and the plumbing backs up.

Wouldn’t it be good to find all the drips across your IT systems and platform, ensuring no leakages or blockages compromise your quality of delivery?

Every CIO knows it is no longer tenable to have 70% of the IT budget assigned to “keeping the lights on”, leaving only 30% to support business and innovation agendas. Nevertheless, we continually see funds allocated to existing platforms and technologies, and reaffirmation of existing alliances with vendors because the effort to change is too great.

CIOs typically prioritise against innovation and transformation agendas in favour of short-term cost savings. However, we believe that organisations can achieve significant efficiencies and financial benefits by looking inwardly at the 70% and identifying the persistent ‘drips’ that affect internal data quality across the IT operational systems and platforms.

It’s common for a CIO to inherit a complex and disparate suite of applications and services (“it wasn’t me! My predecessor made those decisions!”). Over time, we tend to build functional silos across IT operations to specialise against a specific domain. For example, most large organisations will have teams focused on most (if not all) of the following areas:

        • Infrastructure
        • Cloud Services
        • Service Management
        • Security
        • Development
        • Business Intelligence
        • Quality and Testing
        • Network Management
        • Asset Management
        • Project Management
        • Forecasting and Planning
        • Procurement and Billing

These specialisations will usually be supported by a specific technology platform with best practices developed by the relevant team to ensure optimal service levels. The ITIL process library for Service Management, the new 19770-1 compliance for IT Asset Management and Cyber Security Risk Methodology (CSRM) are prime examples. In fact, every teams within each functional silo will naturally tune to optimal performance through a combination of best practices, specialist technology, and people who have deep domain experience across the specialisation.

However, a significant challenge exists when these teams need to interact or participate in a higher-level IT Operational process. This hurdle becomes more acute where inter-dependencies exist between groups. Even where technical integrations are deployed, these exchanges frequently break down because each silo has its own ‘system of truth’, and none can agree on the most accurate data set.

This, in a nutshell, is the CIO’s ‘Leaky Tap’ problem. Any IT operational process that spans across functions is compromised by diverse teams’ sole reliance upon data from their own systems. There is little to no understanding of what might be missing from their data, how this data might be incorrect relative to an authoritative source, and whether their data is, in fact, out of date.

For example:

  • The Service Management team might consider their CMDB the enterprise source of truth.
  • The Security team rely upon their own discovery solution to understand the endpoints that need protection.
  • A Forecasting Team might rely upon inventory information from the Asset Management group, yet this data is out-of-date as the last scan was three months ago.
  • The Billing team responsible for monthly infrastructure outsourcing invoices might depend upon incorrect data from various sources, or worse still, ignore it altogether and simply pay the invoices as they cannot trust any source of data for completeness.

You can easily imagine how much confusion, inefficiency and waste ensue from such a situation.

Unfortunately, most CIOs are blind to the real and complete state of their IT Operations. This frequently happens because they’re relying upon too many conflicting sources of information. While the individual dashboarding metrics may indicate that each component of their technology stack appears to be accurate and running efficiently, the true reconciled picture is often very different as no team is working from a single source of truth.

So, how do we fix this ‘Leaky Tap’? AirTrack can do this quickly and efficiently through a managed process to aggregate and compare each of the existing system data across the silos. In this way, previously invisible inefficiencies and dependencies are easily discovered. By unifying all data sources into a single complete, current, and correct view across IT operations you can efficiently identify where your drips and leaks are.

The below diagram depicts an example of multiple silos and the devices they manage. You can clearly see the disparities across each representative source platform – a significant problem. However, when you merge all the data and intelligently normalise and aggregate the values using AirTrack’s unique IT data quality management platform, you derive a most accurate view of Total Unique and Active Devices across the environment.

All the systems have their own representation of the truth – AirTrack fixes this through a process of aggregation and rationalisation to define a complete, current, and correct view of the IT assets

With this new view of Total Unique and Active devices – all sourced from real and current data – we can start to understand why gaps and anomalies exist across each of the silos and remediate the issue(s) that might be driving inventory out of alignment.

For example, this new AirTrack view might highlight numerous areas of the fleet not covered by the Threat and Vulnerability Assessment. These may include:

  • Identify non-production machines within the CMDB that are being billed full rate by an infrastructure outsourcer.
  • Find devices that are missing the SSCM agent and thus unable to be updated with new patches.
  • Correct forecasted spending models by supplying an accurate state of the current IT investment.

In fact, with this new foundational data, many of the existing inefficiencies across IT Operations will disappear. Each team can now align their ‘system of truth’ to the new complete, current, and correct view. While the CIO might find some initial resistance across her teams; this is typically a short-term hurdle. Each IT operational area will soon understand the enormous benefits of aligning to this new data view. The advantages of working from a common source of aggregated data will inevitably convince even the most change-averse stakeholders.

Some immediately valuable (and more specific) outcomes that this newly reconciled data can achieve include:

  • Complete coverage of security threat and vulnerability tooling – ensure protection across all the fleet and identify the real-time impact of an exposure event (e.g., log4j)
  • Understand attribute gaps in the CMDB that affect the Incident, Problem, Release and Change Management processes (e.g., location not defined, owner incorrectly attributed, retired CIs)
  • Reconcile service provider billing statements – don’t just pay blindly. Have an up-t0odate, accurate view of what you are being billed for
  • Build accuracy into your Software Asset Management initiatives by thoroughly understanding the foundational elements upon which audits depend
  • Manage migration from legacy to new platforms – understand the infrastructure dependencies and post-deployment utilisation

As more and more customers deploy AirTrack we continually see new value delivered and improved collaboration and efficiency across functional teams – sometimes well beyond what we originally envisaged. We’ve detailed some of the most common use cases on our website (https://airtrack.io) and have incredible feedback from our customers as they achieve a new level of visibility and control across their IT teams.To conclude the CIO’s ‘Leaky Tap’ analogy; think of all the cases where internal data quality across your systems and platforms is ‘leaking”. How much avoidable manual work is currently being performed to patch IT operational processes where data moves across the enterprise? When you have the answer, chances are you’ll understand how much value AirTrack can deliver to your organisation.