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AiThority Interview with Vijay Kurkal, CEO at Resolve Systems

What are some of the biggest challenges faced by today’s IT teams?

Today, IT teams are managing an exponential increase in IT complexity, as well as exploding data volumes created by infrastructure growth and digital transformation. Operational IT data has far exceeded the human capacity to analyze it; there is simply too much data coming in from too many systems.

New technologies like Automation and AIOps are the only way IT teams can cope with this complexity; not doing so puts critical infrastructure at risk at a time when uptime has never been more important – and prevents IT from being able to move beyond simply “keeping the lights on,” which still consumes roughly 80% of all IT resources.

The current COVID-19 pandemic has further added to the burden on IT teams who now face a myriad of new challenges in addition to their existing workloads. These include the need to support an army of remote workers who made the shift to working from home literally overnight, fluctuations and reductions in IT staff, and pressure to ensure business continuity at all costs. CIOs and their teams are under more strain than ever before.

How can IT teams improve overall IT efficiency with AIOps?

AIOps, or Artificial Intelligence for IT operations, applies Machine Learning to aggregate, analyze, and contextualize immense amounts of infrastructure data from a wide variety of sources.

Right out of the gates, AIOps offers relief to IT teams by providing a single pane of glass into dynamic, complex IT environments, bringing data together from multiple places to facilitate analysis.

Additionally, AIOps tools perform advanced event correlation and reduce alarm noise, highlighting real problems and intelligently grouping events so that IT teams know where to focus their attention. Further accelerating incident resolution, these solutions use advanced analytics algorithms to pinpoint the root cause of outages, eliminating the need for costly (and painful) IT war rooms and instead rallying only those resources required to fix the underlying issue behind all those alarms.

AIOps solutions also offer auto-discovery and dependency mapping capabilities that deliver powerful visibility into devices and their dynamic relationships with business-critical applications. This enables IT teams to quickly evaluate the business impact of infrastructure outages and to identify which business applications are at risk.

Furthermore, infrastructure maps make it easy to visualize the root cause of issues within complex, hybrid environments. When an issue inevitably occurs, IT staff can spend less time hunting for the cause and move right to action, while notifying business owners

How can automation help IT leaders bridge the skills gap in general – and the gap left by retiring IT workers?

In a recent Gartner survey, 63% of senior executives indicated that an IT talent shortage was a key concern for their organization and additional studies show there are as many as one million IT jobs that will go unfilled in the United States alone in coming years due to a lack of skills. This problem is compounded by approximately 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day. There aren’t enough talented IT people to meet the demand in the market.

Automation can help bridge the IT skills gap in several ways.

1. It enables organizations to do more with less by automating repetitive tasks and processes, which helps achieve the goal of decreasing the ratio of IT people to infrastructure under management.

2. IT leaders can ensure that valuable tribal knowledge is captured and encoded into automated processes to reduce the reliance on a small number of subject matter experts. This is important when facing a fluctuating workforce, either caused by unexpected events like the current pandemic or by planned activities like boomer retirement.

3. As Automation and AIOps start to transform IT Operations, this creates new roles within IT that are less dependent on deep technical skills and more focused on creative problem-solving.

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What are the biggest roadblocks for businesses looking to get started with IT automation?

One of the biggest roadblocks to Automation is a fear of change. In more traditional organizations, we see some hesitation around introducing Automation and AIOps because employees are concerned that their jobs will be replaced by machines. In reality, given the skill shortage, we rarely see job elimination in the IT department. It may mean fewer additional resources have to be hired, but in rare cases are jobs eliminated.

Instead, we see that Automation and AIOps offer great opportunities for IT pros to upskill and take on new roles, as well as to spend more time on strategic initiatives. Typically, we also see job satisfaction increase as monotonous tasks are automated and teams can achieve their KPIs, deliver better service, and have happier end customers.

How can businesses overcome these challenges?

For IT automation to succeed, you need more than just the right technology. You need to develop a culture that embraces automation and celebrates its transformational potential. You need champions lighting the way to shift the collective mindset and develop an army of automators who actively identify and execute on opportunities to automate processes throughout your IT organization.

As one of our customers is fond of saying, you have to put the humans at the heart of automation. Your workforce is the best place to find inspiration to maximize the potential of automation – after all, who is better equipped to tell you where inefficiencies exist than the people tasked with performing the repetitive tasks?

Where can IT teams get started with Automation?

It’s important to start with some quick wins when it comes to automation. We always recommend that organizations jumpstart their automation initiatives by identifying common use cases that would clearly benefit from automation. Once people see the benefit of automating a handful of tasks, you can move on to more complex processes.

Essentially you want to adopt a crawl-walk-run approach to automation. That said, the real ROI and eye-popping metrics usually come as organizations ramp to automating more complex processes that move beyond simple tasks. At that point, there’s a hockey-stick effect when you graph the number of man-hours saved by automation.

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What are some tips for getting started with AIOps?

There’s a lot of buzz around AIOps right now, and separating the hype from reality can be a challenge. One area where we see teams consistently getting immediate value is by starting with auto-discovery and application dependency mapping. In addition to providing instantaneous, in-depth visibility into complex infrastructure, these capabilities also ensure that your CMDBs are up-to-date and accurate, which sounds simple but we find is still a major challenge for many organizations.

With the ability to actually see what’s going on in their environment and have reliable data around inventory, device relationships, configurations, and versioning, teams can streamline their operations, fix issues faster, make changes more confidently, and even improve compliance.

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How are businesses evolving to make way for automation?

Automation is on the agenda of most CIOs at this point and we’re starting to see org structures evolve to ensure its potential is maximized. An increasing number of enterprises are creating Automation Centers of Excellence, which centralize automation initiatives across IT silos and business departments.

Gartner estimates that by 2025, 90% of the Global 5000 will have established centralized automation functions under the direction of automation architects – and this is exactly the trend we see in our customer base.

What new roles are emerging as automation becomes more common in the workplace?

According to a LinkedIn report, SREs (Site Reliability Engineers) are among the top 15 emerging jobs of 2020, with a 34% annual growth rate. SREs are responsible for bringing the wisdom of both software engineering and IT systems management to an organization. It’s their job to balance technical work while maintaining the leadership skills that are necessary to help their organization scale. Automation is one of the key technologies that SREs leverage to drive smarter, more efficient ways of working.

Additionally, some of our customers, like Fujitsu, have been able to promote service desk agents to automation and analytics roles. Since these front line service agents were already familiar with how the manual processes were performed, many of them have successfully leaped operational roles to more strategic ones focused on building automation content, analyzing business processes, and developing orchestration workflows.

What are your top three tips for IT leaders looking to embrace automation and AIOps in 2020?

– Get your IT Operations house in order by starting your AIOps journey with auto-discovery and dependency mapping which is easy to get up and running, while offering almost instantaneous improvements in operational efficiency, incident response, change management, and compliance.

– When introducing IT automation, start with processes that can demonstrate automation’s value and move quickly to those that will have a meaningful impact on streamlining operations, infrastructure resilience, and business continuity, which will all be key success factors for IT leaders in 2020.

– Identify visionaries within your organization who can help advocate for automation and AIOps and ease the transition for those who are hesitant to make that change.

Thank you, Vijay! That was fun and hope to see you back on AiThority soon.

Vijay Kurkal serves as the Chief Executive Office for Resolve where he oversees the strategic growth of the company as it helps maximize the potential of AIOps and IT automation in enterprises around the world. Vijay has a long history in the tech industry, having spent the last twenty years working with numerous software and hardware companies that have run the gamut from mainframe to bleeding-edge, emerging tech.

Before joining Resolve, he held leadership positions at IBM, VMware, Bain & Company, and Insight Partners, playing a critical role in accelerating the growth of a wide array of technology companies and introducing state-of-the-art product lines. Vijay has a passion for helping IT organizations achieve digital transformation by embracing new technologies and for bringing innovative solutions to market. He frequently speaks and writes about topics related to the journey to automation in modern enterprises. Vijay’s own foray into technology began with a degree in electrical engineering, followed by an MBA from Columbia University.

Resolve Systems logo

Resolve helps IT teams achieve agile, autonomous operations with an industry-leading, enterprise automation and AIOps platform. By combining insights from artificial intelligence with powerful, cross-domain automation, Resolve handles a wide array of IT operations – from dependency mapping, event correlation, and predictive analytics to intelligently automating actions based on those findings. Purpose-built to address challenges posed by increasing IT complexity, Resolve enables organizations to maximize operational efficiency, optimize costs, reduce alarm noise, quickly troubleshoot and fix problems, and accelerate service delivery. See why the Fortune 1000, leading MSPs, and the largest telcos on the planet trust Resolve to power more than a million automation every day.

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