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Why is planning and measuring for IT operations so difficult?

The IT Black Hole
By George Kucera

A decade ago I worked on solutions for the office of the CIO, including IT Portfolio Management and IT Financial Management. When it came to forecasting and performing cost allocation, the problem child was always IT operations. I had heard, "operations is a black hole" or that something was, "opaque to us" dozens of times. In the business proposals at major banks, they would use heuristics to staff and budget for applications in operations. This problem still exists, in spite of the improvements of DevOps and agile methodologies.

Why is planning and measuring for IT operations so difficult?
There are several reasons why planning and measuring for IT operations is so difficult, including the human bias circumstance Frederic Bastiat cogently described as, "that which is seen and that which is not seen." His point was economic, as is mine here. Humans tend to overestimate the visible functionality of a cool new feature and under appreciate the "unseen" robustness, or lack thereof, and other operational factors impacting the ultimate cost of the feature. Yet, IT operations is very complex. The people of IT deal with a lot of uncertainty, always changing conditions, and are provided too much, mostly non-actionable, information.

At PagerDuty, we are helping organizations with IT operations and avoid the operations blackhole.

How are we going about this?
We continually ask ourselves what can we do to make the lives easier for on-call engineers, incident commanders and ops managers. How can we make it easier for developers and operations engineers to prevent and resolve incidents? We continuously ponder innovative questions like this from three primary perspectives: people, data, and tools.

By people, we don't necessarily mean being easy to employ or offering amazing overall user experience - though we certainly do value those things and our offering reflects this. By people, we look at how to optimize the engagement of people in the prevention and resolution processes. This means recruiting the right people at the right time within the right context. No alert fatigue! No 30-minute team assembly! No dropped issues! ITOps people work hard, let's engage them when we need to.

By data, we look at how to leverage the massive amount of data related to the event streams, alerts and incidents to improve the information quality for ITOps practitioners. Whether you are triaging an alert or working to resolve an incident, it is beneficial to have your solution present all the information that could be relevant to classify and resolve incidents as quickly as possible.

By tools, we focus on making sure that leveraging PagerDuty should be seamless and empowering. Seamless means you can easily employ PagerDuty within the context of your existing monitoring, collaboration and IT process automation tools. With 150+ native integrations and our API that enables you to create your own custom integrations, extending PagerDuty to suit the needs of your environment is easier than ever.

These three perspectives are core to our thinking. We work on both what is seen in our product and the unseen resiliency we continually work to maintain.

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PagerDuty’s operations performance platform helps companies increase reliability. By connecting people, systems and data in a single view, PagerDuty delivers visibility and actionable intelligence across global operations for effective incident resolution management. PagerDuty has over 100 platform partners, and is trusted by Fortune 500 companies and startups alike, including Microsoft, National Instruments, Electronic Arts, Adobe, Rackspace, Etsy, Square and Github.

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