Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Stefan Bernbo, TJ Randall

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud

@BigDataExpo: Article

Detecting Anomalies that Matter!

Like needles in a haystack

As Netuitive's Chief Data Scientist, I am fortunate to work closely with some of the worlds' largest banks, telcos, and eCommerce companies. Increasingly the executives that I speak with at these companies are no longer focused on just detecting application performance anomalies - they want to understand the impact this has on the business.  For example - "is the current slowdown in the payment service impacting sales?"

You can think of it as detecting IT operations anomalies that really matter - but this is easier said than done.

Like Needles in a Haystack
When it comes to IT analytics, there is a general notion that the more monitoring data you are able to consume, analyze, and correlate, the more accurate your results will be. Just pile all that infrastructure, application performance, and business metric data together and good things are bound to happen, right?

Larger organizations typically have access to voluminous data being generated from dozens of monitoring tools that are tracking thousands of infrastructure and application components.  At the same time, these companies often track hundreds of business metrics using a totally different set of tools.

The problem is that, collectively, these monitoring tools do not communicate with each other.  Not only is it hard to get holistic visibility into the performance and health of a particular business service, it's even harder to discover complex anomalies that have business impact.

Anomalies are Like Snowflakes
Compounding the challenge is the fact that no two anomalies are alike.  Anomalies that matter have multiple facets.  They reflect a composite behavior of many layers of interacting and inter-dependent components.  Additionally, they can be cleverly disguised or hidden in a haze of visible but insignificant noise.  No matter how many graphs and charts you display on the largest LCD monitor you can find - the type of scalable real-time analysis required to find and expose what's important is humanly impossible.

Enter IT Operations Analytics
Analytics such as statistical machine learning allow us to understand the "normal" behavior of each resource we are tracking - be it a single IT component, web service, application, or business process. Additional algorithms help us find patterns and correlations between the thousands of IT and business metrics that matter in a critical service.

The Shift Towards IT Operations Analytics is Already Happening
This is not about the future.  It's about what companies are doing today.

Several years ago thought-leading enterprises (primarily large banks with critical revenue driving services) began experimenting with a new breed of IT analytics platform. These companies' electronic and web facing businesses had so much revenue (and reputation) at stake that they needed to find the anomalies that matter -- the ones that were truly indicative of current or impending problems.

Starting with an almost "blank slate", these forward-thinking companies began developing open IT analytics platforms that easily integrated any type of data source in real time to provide a comprehensive view of patterns and relationships between IT infrastructure and business service performance. This was only possible with technologies that leveraged sophisticated data integration, knowledge modeling, and analytics to discover and capture the unique behavior of complex business services.  Anything less would fail, because, like snowflakes, no two anomalies are alike.

The Continuous Need for Algorithm Research
The online banking system at one bank is different than the online system at the next bank.  And the transaction slowdown that occurred last week may have a totally different root cause than the one two months ago.  Even more interesting are external factors such as seasonality and its effects on demand.  For example, payment companies see increased workload around holidays such as Thanksgiving and Mother's Day whereas gaming/betting companies' demand is driven more by factors such as the NFL Playoffs or the World Series.

For this reason, analytics research is an ongoing endeavor at Netuitive - part driven by customer needs and in part by advances in technology.   Once Netuitive technology is installed in an enterprise and integrating data collected across multiple layers in the service stack, behavior learning begins immediately.  As time passes, the statistical algorithms have more observations to feed their results and this leads to increasing confidence in both anomalies detected and proactive forecasts.  Additionally, customer domain knowledge can be layered in to Netuitive's real-time analysis in the form of knowledge bases and supervised learning algorithms.  The Research Group at Netuitive works closely with our Professional Services Group as well as directly with customers to regularly review actual delivered alarm quality to tune the algorithms that we have as well as identify new algorithms that would deliver greater value in an actionable timeframe.

Since Netuitive's software architecture allows for "pluggable" algorithms, we can incrementally introduce new analytics capabilities easily, at first in an experimental or laboratory setting and ultimately, once verified, into production.

The IT operations management market has matured over the past two decades to the point that most critical components are well instrumented.  The data is there and mainstream IT organizations (not just visionary early adopters) realize that analytics deliver measurable and tangible value.   My vision and challenge is to get our platform to the point where customers can easily customize the algorithms on their own, as their needs and IT infrastructure evolve over time.  This is where platforms need to get to because of the endless variety of ways that enterprises must discover and remediate "anomalies that matter".

Stay tuned.  In an upcoming blog I will drill down on some specific industry examples of algorithms we developed as part of some large enterprise IT analytic platform solutions.

More Stories By Elizabeth A. Nichols, Ph.D

As Chief Data Scientist for Netuitive, Elizabeth A. Nichols, Ph.D. leads development of algorithms, models, and analytics. This includes both enriching the company’s current portfolio as well as developing new analytics to support current and emerging technologies and IT-dependent business services across multiple industry sectors.

Previously, Dr. Nichols co-founded PlexLogic, a provider of open analytics services for quantitative data analysis, risk modeling and data visualization. In her role as CTO and Chief Data Scientist, she developed a cloud platform for collecting, cleansing and correlating data from heterogeneous sources, computing metrics, applying algorithms and models, and visualizing results. Prior to Plexlogic, Dr. Nichols co-founded and served as CTO for ClearPoint Metrics, a security metrics software platform that was eventually sold to nCircle. Prior to ClearPoint Metrics, Dr. Nichols served in technical advisory and leadership positions at CA, Legent Corp, BladeLogic, and Digital Analysis Corp. At CA, she was VP of Research and Development and Lead Architect for agent instrumentation and analytics for CA Unicenter. After receiving a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Duke University, she began her career as an operations research analyst developing war gaming models for the US Army.

@CloudExpo Stories
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service. In his session at 19th Cloud Exp...
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, provided an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data professionals...
Internet of @ThingsExpo has announced today that Chris Matthieu has been named tech chair of Internet of @ThingsExpo 2017 New York The 7th Internet of @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Chris Matthieu is the co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, a revolutionary real-time IoT platform recently acquired by Citrix. Octoblu connects things, systems, people and clouds to a global mesh network allowing users to automate and control design flo...
You are moving to the Cloud. The question is not if, it’s when. Now that your competitors are in the cloud and lapping you, your “when” better hurry up and get here. But saying and doing are two different things. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, Robert Reeves, CTO of Datical, explained how DevOps can be your onramp to the cloud. By adopting simple, platform independent DevOps strategies, you can accelerate your move to the cloud. Spoiler Alert: He also makes sure you don’t...
President Obama recently announced the launch of a new national awareness campaign to "encourage more Americans to move beyond passwords – adding an extra layer of security like a fingerprint or codes sent to your cellphone." The shift from single passwords to multi-factor authentication couldn’t be timelier or more strategic. This session will focus on why passwords alone are no longer effective, and why the time to act is now. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Chris Webber, security strateg...
"We are an all-flash array storage provider but our focus has been on VM-aware storage specifically for virtualized applications," stated Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Redis is not only the fastest database, but it has become the most popular among the new wave of applications running in containers. Redis speeds up just about every data interaction between your users or operational systems. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dave Nielsen, Developer Relations at Redis Labs, shared the functions and data structures used to solve everyday use cases that are driving Redis' popularity.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their backend AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT - especially in the connected home and office. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Kocher, founder and managing director of Grey Heron, explained how Amazon is extending its reach to become a major force in IoT by building on its dominant cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strat...
"We are a custom software development, engineering firm. We specialize in cloud applications from helping customers that have on-premise applications migrating to the cloud, to helping customers design brand new apps in the cloud. And we specialize in mobile apps," explained Peter Di Stefano, Vice President of Marketing at Impiger Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
The idea of comparing data in motion (at the sensor level) to data at rest (in a Big Data server warehouse) with predictive analytics in the cloud is very appealing to the industrial IoT sector. The problem Big Data vendors have, however, is access to that data in motion at the sensor location. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave, discussed how as IoT is increasingly adopted by industrial markets, there is going to be an increased demand for sensor data from the outermos...
"Qosmos has launched L7Viewer, a network traffic analysis tool, so it analyzes all the traffic between the virtual machine and the data center and the virtual machine and the external world," stated Sebastien Synold, Product Line Manager at Qosmos, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes how...