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Analytics of IT Systems: My Favorite Data-Driven Thoughts

Level 12

DataArrow.JPG

As we come to the end of this series on infrastructure and application data analytics, I thought I'd share my favorite quotes, thoughts, and images from the past few weeks of posts leading up to the PerfStack release.

SomeClown​ leads the way in The One Where We Abstract a Thing...

"Mean time to innocence (MTTI) is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek metric in IT shops these days, referring to the amount of time it takes an engineer to prove that the domain for which they have responsibility is not, in fact, the cause of whatever problem is being investigated. In order to quantify an assessment of innocence you need information, documentation that the problem is not yours, even if you cannot say with any certainty who does own the problem. To do this, you need a tool which can generate impersonal, authoritative proof you can stand on, and which other engineers will respect. This is certainly helped if a system-wide tool, trusted by all parties, is a major contributor to this documentation."

Karen:  Mean Time To Innocence! I'm so stealing that. I wrote a bit about this effect in my post Improving your Diagnostic and Troubleshooting Skills When there's a major problem, the first thing most of us think is, "PLEASE DON'T LET IT BE ME!"  So I love this thought.

demitassenz​ wrote in PerfStack for Multi-dimensional Performance Troubleshooting

"My favorite part was adding multiple different performance counters from the different layers of infrastructure to a single screen. This is where I had the Excel flashback, only here the consolidation is done programmatically. No need for me to make sure the time series match up. I loved that the performance graphs were re-drawing in real-time as new counters were added. Even better was that the re-draw was fast enough that counters could be added on the off chance that they were relevant. When they are not relevant, they can simply be removed. The hours I wasted building Excel graphs translate into minutes of building a PerfStack workspace."

Karen:  OMG! I had completely forgotten my days of downloading CSVs or other outputs of tools and trying to correlate them in Excel. As a data professional, I'm happy that we now have a way to quickly and dynamically bring metrics together to make data tell the story it wants to tell.

cobrien  NPM 12.1 Sneak Peek - Using Perfstack for Networks

"I was exploring some of the data the other day. It’s like the scientific method in real-time. Observe some data, come up with a hypothesis, drag on related data to prove or disprove your hypothesis, rinse, and repeat."

Karen:  Data + Science.  What's not to love?

SomeClown​ mentioned in Perfstack Changes the Game

"PerfStack can now create dashboards on the fly, filled with all of the pertinent pieces of data needed to remediate a problem. More than that, however, they can give another user that same dashboard, who can then add their own bits and bobs. You are effectively building up a grouping of monitoring inputs consisting of cross-platform data points, making troubleshooting across silos seamless in a way that it has never been before."

Karen: In my posts, I focused a lot on the importance of collaboration for troubleshooting. Here, Teren gets right to the point. We can collaboratively build analytics based on our own expertise to get right to the point of what we are trying to resolve.  And we have data to back it up.

aLTeReGo​ in a post demo-ing how it works, Drag & Drop Answers to Your Toughest IT Questions

"Sharing is caring. The most powerful PerfStack feature of all is the ability to collaborate with others within your IT organization; breaking down the silo walls and allowing teams to triage and troubleshoot problems across functional areas. Anything built in PerfStack is sharable. The only requirement is that the individual you're sharing with has the ability to login to the Orion web interface. Sharing is as simple as copying the URL in your browser and pasting it into email, IM, or even a help desk ticket."

Perfstackstacked.png

Karen: Yes! I also wrote about how important collaboration is to getting problems solved fast.

demitassenz​ shared in Passing the Blame Like a Boss

"One thing to keep in mind is that collaborative troubleshooting is more productive than playing help desk ticket ping pong. It definitely helps the process to have experts across the disciplines working together in real time. It helps both with resolving the problem at hand and with future problems. Often each team can learn a little of the other team’s specialization to better understand the overall environment. Another underappreciated aspect is that it helps people to understand that the other teams are not complete idiots. To understand that each specialization has its own issues and complexity.

Karen: Help desk ticket ping pong. If you've ever suffered through this, especially when someone passes the tick back to you right before the emergency "why haven't we fixed this yet" meeting with the CEO, you'll know the pain of it all.

SomeClown​ observed in More PerfStack - Screenshot Edition

"In a nutshell, what it allows you to do is to find all sorts of bits of information that you're already monitoring, and view it all in one place for easy consumption. Rather than going from this page to that, one IT discipline-domain to another, or ticket to ticket, PerfStack gives you more freedom to mix and match, to see only the bits pertinent to the problem at hand, whether those are in the VOIP systems, wireless, applications, or network. Who would have thought that would be useful, and why haven't we thought of that before?"

Karen: "Why haven't we thought of that before?" That last bit hit home for me. I remember working on a project for a client to do a data model about IT systems. This was at least 20 years ago. We were going to build an integrated IT management systems so that admins could break through the silo-based systems and approaches to solve a major SLA issue for our end-users. We did a lot of work until the project was deferred when a legislative change meant that all resources needed to be redirected to meet those requirements. But I still remember how difficult it was going to be to pull all this data together. With PerfStack, we aren't building a new collection system.  We are applying analytics on top of what we are already collecting with specialized tools.

DataChick's Thoughts

This next part is cheating a bit, because the quotes are from my own posts. But hey, I also like them and want to focus on them again.

datachick​ in Better Metrics. Better Data. Better Analytics. Better IT.

"As a data professional, I'm biased, but I believe that data is the key to successful collaboration in managing complex systems. We can't manage by "feelings," and we can't manage by looking at silo-ed data. With PerfStack, we have an analytics system, with data visualizations, to help us get to the cause faster, with less pain-and-blame. This makes us all look better to the business. They become more confident in us because, as one CEO told me, "You all look like you know what you are doing." That helped when we went to ask for more resources."

Karen: We should all look good to the CEO, right?

datachick ranted in 5 Anti-Patterns to IT Collaboration: Data Will Save You

"These anti-patterns don't just increase costs, decrease team function, increase risk, and decrease organizational confidence, they also lead to employee dissatisfaction and morale. That leads to higher turnover (see above) and more pressure on good employees. Having the right data, at the right time, in the right format, will allow you to get to the root cause of issues, and better collaborate with others faster, cheaper, and easier.  Also, it will let you enjoy your 3:00 ams better."

I enjoyed sharing my thoughts on these topics and reading other people's posts as well. It seems bloggers here shared the same underlying theme of collaboration and teamwork. That made this Canadian Data Chick happy. Go, everyone. Solve problems together.  Do IT better.  And don't let me catch you trying to do any of that without data to back you up. Be part of #TeamData.

25 Comments
rschroeder
Level 21

This article is beautiful.  Efficient, interesting, and accurate.

I'd also like to add:  incomplete.  Establishing MTTI is very nice to get the hot potato out of your hands, and hopefully into someone's who can correct the trouble.

But passing that hot potato to someone else isn't going the full distance in customer service in that a team might be guessing who truly owns the cause of the problem.

Monitoring tools like Solarwinds builds really can improve the efficiency of the hand-off to other teams by accurately diagnosing the root cause through the large single-pane-of-glass environment that Orion provides.  Once we know the problem is not the network, not the server, not the application, and IS the data base (sorry DBA's, I had to pick on someone), then we don't waste time giving the ticket to the SA's or Apps or SAN folks.

The end need for Support is to quickly resolve the issue; Orion's products allow us to minimize the number of hand-offs between the initial complaint and the final assignment to a team who can correct the problem.  Cutting out the middle-man is something at which Solarwinds products excel.

datachick
Level 12

Well, that was the point of his post.  And all of mine.  Anti-patterns in collaboration.

I'm hoping everyone will click through the links to read the quotes in context.  I'm still going to use MTTI in my work.  Love the snark.

vinay.by
Level 16

Wonderful article datachick

shuckyshark
Level 13

I think a lot of people are going to start using MTTI...

tallyrich
Level 15

Nice article. Your articles are always thorough.

datachick
Level 12

Does that mean "too long" ?  

tallyrich
Level 15

Not at all - it means good detail and explanation.

shuckyshark
Level 13

I wonder if Thwack should have a "deep thoughts" section...

datachick
Level 12

Love that idea.

tinmann0715
Level 16

He must be married... ;-)

datachick
Level 12

I wrote this 3 years ago.  And it still applies.

Data is Power

mtgilmore1
Level 13

Great article and insight.  Quotes for everyday.

gfsutherland
Level 14

Wow... nicely done datachick​ !!!!

It's always easy to blame the network.... Recently, thanks to NPM I was able to "inform" one of our software vendors that it was indeed their application with graphs, history and all while they were logged into my network remotely.

Data IS Power... Proof Rules!!!

zero_cool
Level 10

"PLEASE DON'T LET IT BE ME!"

Love it!

ecklerwr1
Level 19

This was a really thought out piece WOW!

gfsutherland
Level 14

Network Dictionary: Mean Time to Innocence - EtherealMind

(Full disclosure... had not heard the term "mtti" before.... but I will use it profusely going forward!)

This link kind of sums up the problem that datachick​ outlines.... and has happened to all of us at least 1000 times.

datachick
Level 12

Nice. Thanks for sharing this.

Jfrazier
Level 18

datachick​, as usual you bring together various thoughts, concepts, and ideas into a well written piece.

MTTI, now that is greatness in my opinion.  I will being using it.

designerfx
Level 16

I think it's important for people to understand the capability of the tools and not make assumptions without trying them.

I find that to be a problem in a lot of environments - legacy reasons, personal issues, etc where people just aren't open to "oh, a tool can make my life easier!"

tinmann0715
Level 16

My company looooooves data. They were one of the first 7 SAP customers to implement HANA for analytics. I, on the other hand, had to wait years before I could get any exec's attention long enough to notice what BI I was building in SolarWinds.

datachick
Level 12

Cobbler's children, all of us.

datachick
Level 12

Thank you.  I've already used it a couple of times!

goodzhere
Level 14

This is a pretty cool rollup

datachick
Level 12

Another frustration for me is people who think they are saving their company a lot of money by trying to do things with a collection of scripts and clicks.  They don't think having a mature, enterprise class tool will save the company money and help them server their end users better.

byrona
Level 21

I really appreciate you taking the time to write about this, it's been a great read!

About the Author
Data Evangelist Sr. Project Manager and Architect at InfoAdvisors. I'm a consultant, frequent speaker, trainer, blogger. I love all things data. I'm an Microsoft MVP. I work with all kinds of databases in the relational and post-relational world. I'm a NASA 2016 Datanaut! I want you to love your data, too.