Increasing Operational Efficiency for MSPs with AIOps

OK – let’s face it. Every Managed Service Provider (MSP) in the world is feeling the pressure to continuously improve their business. They need to be competitive. To be innovative. To be efficient and so on. In this post I will explain how Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps) helps MSPs to tackle their biggest challenges.

MSP Challenges

Based on customer experience, I have listed the top three challenges of MSPs:

1. Staying Competitive

A challenge for MSPs is the increasing commoditisation of the industry. With the rise of cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft and Google it has become more difficult for managed service providers to differentiate their service offering. As an end-user, why should I choose for a MSP instead of AWS?

2. Deliver High-Quality Services Across A More Complex Environment

With new technologies such as cloud, containers and microservices, managed service providers are challenged with a growing complexity of their IT landscape. This complexity can be defined across three dimensions:

  • Volume: rapid growth in data volumes generated by the IT infrastructure and applications

  • Variety: there is an increasing variety of data types (for example, metrics, logs, events and changes) generated by machines and humans

  • Velocity: the increasing velocity at which data is generated as well as the increasing rate of change within IT architectures

This growing complexity makes it more difficult for MSPs to deliver the same quality of service to their end-users. 

3. Productivity and Efficiency

Handle more customers, with less resources. That’s what every MSP wants, right? Here at StackState we’ve seen two MSP challenges that are efficiency-related:

  • First of all, we've seen customers who are having a hard time with the on-boarding of new applications. It's a painful process for them to know what systems are running where at the customer side and how to merge it with their existing IT landscape.

  • Secondly, it’s hard to realize a quick time-to-value from new employees. New hires at MSPs have no idea what the IT landscape looks like and how systems across customer environments are connected.

Increase Operational Efficiency With AIOps

To stay relevant, MSPs need to demonstrate that they can consistently deliver high-performance solutions for their customers. In addition to this, it's important that they can scale the amount of systems and customers without increasing headcount.

And that's where AIOps enters the picture.

AIOps stands for Artificial Intelligence for IT Operations and is a new categorie defined by Gartner. AIOps platforms combine big data, machine learning and topology visualization to accelerate and automate IT operations functions with proactive, personal and dynamic insight across the entire IT landscape. 

To illustrate the power of AIOps, we've defined 3 different categories. As a MSP, the ultimate goal is to achieve sub-linear growth, which means that you're able to exponentially handle more complexity and more customers with the same or even less headcount.

MSPs are using multiple monitoring tools to manage and monitor customer environments. Each tool serves a different need and monitors a different part of the IT landscape. As the complexity of your IT landscape grows, the volume and variety of data will also grow. How do you stay in control, without increasing headcount?

Steps towards AIOps

The first step is to consolidate your current IT monitoring and management tools in one place and create context around the data that's ingested. That context is topology. A topology visualization will help humans to better understand what's running where and how systems across customer environments are connected. This is what we consider as "Next-Gen Monitoring". The second step is all about letting Artificial Intelligence (AI) do the heavy lifting for you. With AI you're able to automate human tasks and make your teams more productive. One example is anomaly detection. At MSPs, there is an overwhelming amount of data to track, making it extremely time-consuming to manually set static thresholds. That's where anomaly detection comes in. It helps to auto-identify anomalies based on all the data that matter for your particular customer environment. Now your teams can focus on delivering high-quality services, instead of wasting time managing rules and thresholds.  

AIOps Use Cases For MSPs

AIOps platforms play a critical role in reducing the complexity of a MSP IT landscape. AIOps enables you to consolidate different datasources into a single place, and scale it to understand your customer environments from every possible angle. We've seen the following and most popular AIOps use cases at MSPs worldwide: 

  1. Reduce complexity. Monitor your customer’s cloud, on-prem and hybrid IT landscape in one place. By visualizing the topology of your entire IT landscape, you are able to understand dependencies across customer environments.

  2. Improve service quality. Be transparant towards your customers and provide them with dashboards that provides full-stack visibility. In addition to this, AI helps you to understand issues that affect your service quality and identify them before they cause a costly disruption for your customers. 

  3. Increase operational efficiency. Auto-discover components from customer environments and get a real-time understanding of its architecture. Having an understanding of what's running where will help to reduce the time to on-board new customer environments.

  4. Scale and optimize human resourcing. On-board new employees quickly and realize a fast time-to-value. Create a shared understanding across teams and tools for efficient resourcing.

StackState AIOps for Managed Service Providers

StackState is a vendor that is able to provide Next-Gen Monitoring and AIOps capabilities that help managed service providers to become more productive and improve their service-quality. If you want to learn how Vancis, one of the biggest VMware-based cloud providers in the Benelux region, uses vendor StackState to get real-time insight across their customer environments, then please download our customer case study. If you want to learn more about vendor StackState and its capabilities for managed service providers, feel free to request a guided tour.