VMware’s VMware vRealize Operations, VMware vRealize Log Insight, and VMware vRealize Network Insight enable Intelligent Operations. From the vRealize Operations Manager out-of-the-box dashboards and metrics, guided analytics-based root cause analysis with recommended remediation, integrated vRealize Log Insight providing context sensitive logs, vRealize Network Insights mapping of data paths across virtual overlay and physical underlay coupled to fully customizable dashboards, super metrics, prioritize alerting with actionable recommendations, policy-driven automation and policy-based, intelligent workload placement and best-fit re-balancing, proactively and predictively operating your private and even multi-cloud environments is within reach.
Why am I showing you these phones? Because this is a very familiar transition from something very basic, primitive to something highly functional, agile, powerful. Can you use a smart phone as a basic phone, just for calling? You can, but it wouldn’t be smart!
Unfortunately, many of the customers with which I’ve been working only use the basic out-of-the box capabilities of highly-capable products and use them in the same reactive way they’ve used their more traditional monitoring and troubleshooting tools. I’ll never forget the customer who was really excited about showing me how they had integrated vRealize Operations Manager into their Network Operations Center and were displaying dashboards on their big control screen. I had to temper my look of surprise when all they were displaying was red-yellow-green categorized alerts! I was expecting to at least see dynamic threshold-based trending for their critical application infrastructure based on the conversation we had just completed. This is a common behavior I’m seeing and hearing about from colleagues, customers currently using very basic vRealize Operations Manager while they could be and should be taking advantage of the vRealize Operations Manager capabilities enabling intelligent operations.
Your first thought may be, well doesn’t that point to overly complex products? Earlier in the product lifecycles, maybe, but not with the ease of use focus and associated improvements added in more recent releases. At this point, in my experience, it’s more about not having made the mindset shift from reactive to proactive in how these customers approach operations. I understand this as they’re all under constant pressure and falling back to how they’re used to working, reactively acting on issues and incident tickets as they arise, is within their comfort zone. But in the fast paced, ever changing world enabled by the software defined data center, this will increasingly become unsustainable.
Multi faceted approach
One way I’ve found to successfully address this is through a multi-faceted education approach. Education serves the dual purpose of teaching how to apply the features and capabilities of the tools but perhaps more importantly, it shows the “art of the possible.” In teaching how to use the tool it’s also showing how the tool, whether vRealize Operations, vRealize Log Insight, or vRealize Network Insight, as well as integration between tools can easily be used to proactively monitor, troubleshoot, and remediate issues before they become service or application impacting incidents.
By multi-faceted I mean a combination of “formal” and informal training. I put formal in quotations because this no longer means you must rely just on classroom-based training. I still encourage classroom-based training to gain a solid knowledge foundation, and VMware Education has some excellent foundational classes for the Intelligent Operations suite, there are additional education opportunities available to create an Intelligent Operations learning path. There is VMware TV on YouTube with VMware Cloud Management, VMware Education and Training, and VMware HOL channels to name but a few useful for learning more about Intelligent Operations. There are also e-learning classes from VMware Education as well as publicly available Hand-on Labs. And let’s not forget about the great resources available through the VMware Technology Network. You can put together a pretty thorough Intelligent Operations learning path with these resources – without having to pull people out of operations for extended periods of time.
Experiential knowledge transfer
But there is another facet to education that is almost always overlooked – experiential knowledge transfer. Experiential knowledge transfer can significantly accelerate productive use of knowledge gained. This is about working shoulder-to-shoulder with subject matter experts in your environment tackling day-to-day operations real-time. Whether this is accomplished purely internally by explicitly assigning and incentivizing your own subject matter experts to hands-on mentor others on the team or using outside resources like VMware or VMware partner subject matter experts embedded in your operations team for fixed periods of time with agreed mentoring objectives, this is the key step to completing anyone’s learning path. Sure, there is a cost, but the payback is enormous; you’re accelerating learning in the context of your operational environment while having the benefit of VMware’s or a partner’s subject matter experts helping in critical aspects of your day-to-day operations.
Enabling the mindset or cultural shift from reactive to proactive operations using VMware’s Intelligent Operations-focused suite of tools is critical for success in a VMware-supported environment. Education, both formal and informal can not only help but greatly accelerate this shift. Putting together a learning path that minimizes (but doesn’t do away with completely as foundational classroom training is pretty irreplaceable) taking people out of day-to-day operations is a highly effective way to accomplish the mindset shift you must make to be successful – both as a team member and the individuals on the team from a career perspective.
Kevin Lees is the field Chief Technologist for IT Operations Transformation at VMware, focused on how customers optimize the way they operate VMware-supported environments and solutions. Kevin serves as an advisor to global customer senior executives for their IT operations transformation initiatives and leads the IT Transformation activities in VMware’s Global Field Office of the CTO.