In this episode of the Futurum Tech Webcast, I’m joined by Susan Sharpe, from Dell Technologies Product Management team, to talk about developments in AIOps software and Dell’s CloudIQ offering.
This was an incredibly timely conversation. Our research shows that IT organizations have long been trying to do more with less, and even more so now given the challenging macroeconomic conditions and ongoing labor shortages and skill shortages. Business environments are scaling, distributing, and getting more complex, and the challenges sometimes seem never-ending. So how do organizations and their IT handle all of this without losing their sanity? This is exactly what Susan and I discussed.
Our conversation covered:
- Dell’s solution to address the challenges to IT leaders and teams today and the role AIOps can play to help alleviate those challenges
- The benefits of proactive monitoring and predictive analytics, which are part of Dell’s Cloud for AIOps offering, and which combines human intelligence of expert engineers with the machine intelligence of AI/ML to provide customers with more insight. Efficiency plus proactivity are key parts of the value prop here, and one portal for visibility throughout the enterprise is also key.
- The value of being able to anticipate business needs rather than always being reactive, and the role CloudIQ can play on that front, providing things like capacity full prediction, capacity forecasting, and capacity anomaly detection, to name a few.
- What the secret sauce is that makes Dell’s CloudIQ different from other infrastructure monitoring and management tools.
- How the Dell CloudIQ solution actually delivers on the “do more with less” front.
- And one of my favorite topics, security. Susan walked us through how Dell’s CloudIQ allows an at-a-glance view of issues across your environment, allowing you to see the most pressing risks, then take quick action. It also features machine learning and predictive AI to help customers zero in on problem areas and assesses whether infrastructure security configurations adhere to policy, identifies problem areas, and recommends actions to keep data safe. I’m going to flat out admit that this is one of my favorite features, hands down.
- Last but never least, Susan shared some thoughts on what’s ahead for Dell CloudIQ and what we can expect moving forward. If you’re exploring AIOps and how they can help you do more with less, this is a conversation you’ll want to make time for.
You can view the video of our conversation here:
Or grab the audio on your streaming platform of choice here:
For more information on Dell’s CloudIQ offering and how AIOps can deliver for you, check out our research brief, which you’ll find here: Dell CloudIQ: Using AIOps to Make Digital Transformation and Multicloud Journeys Smarter
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Shelly Kramer: Hello and welcome to the Futurum Tech Webcast. I’m Shelly Kramer, principal analyst here at Futurum Research, and I am joined today by Susan Sharpe with the Dell Technologies product management team, and we’re going to have a conversation about developments in AIOps software. Our research here at Futurum shows that IT organizations are trying to do more with less. If you’re in IT, chances are good you’re nodding along about now. We’re seeing IT leaders navigating labor shortages, skill shortages, environments are scaling, distributing and getting infinitely more complex. So how do organizations handle all of this? Well, that’s what Susan and I are going to be talking about today. Susan, welcome to the show.
Susan Sharpe: Thank you very much. Happy to be here.
Shelly Kramer: So AIOps, let’s talk about Dell’s solution to address AIOps.
Susan Sharpe: Well, there’s two main factors here. So first has to do with what we already built into the products, into the infrastructure itself, such as intelligent storage that can optimize for performance and efficiency or servers that can automate deployment or switches with zero touch deployment. So that’s one key aspect that’s built right into the products here at Dell.
The other key aspect is the AIOps product CloudIQ, which I’m responsible for, and that product is a SaaS application that proactively identifies potential issues in the environment and provides recommended remediations for how to eliminate the risk those potential issues pose.
Shelly Kramer: What I really like about this solution is, you touched on it a little bit, but the proactive monitoring, the predictive analytics, things that are working for you while you don’t even know it, and then combining the human intelligence of expert engineering and the machine intelligence of AI and ML. All of this provides customers with greater insight, more information at your fingertips, and it allows you to be not only more efficient but more proactive. And I think that to me, peace of mind comes with proactivity rather than reactivity, and I think I would guess that your customers feel the same way.
Susan Sharpe: That’s so true. Customers have definitely said that this is a key benefit that CloudIQ provides for them, going beyond just standard reporting on metrics and really taking the next step forward in the advanced analytics. Some of those, for instance, are the capacity anomaly detection where we identify a sudden and unsustainable surge and capacity consumption and what might be causing it. Similarly, performance anomalies and impact analysis where we use advanced analytics to be able to identify where there are deviations from normal performance behavior and also where we can correlate performance metrics to identify and really hone in on actual performance issues.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. I feel like I’m always looking for silver linings, and I feel like a silver lining in my worldview that has come as a result of navigating a global pandemic for two years plus is just the understanding by organizations and leaders and IT leaders that anticipating needs, business continuity, business resilience, all of those things are so important, and technology solutions that can help you address those things came to the forefront as a result of the pandemic. So I see a move toward AIOps and understanding the value that they deliver as something that’s the silver lining that’s come out of the past couple of years. Do you see that as well?
Susan Sharpe: I definitely do. When we’ve asked customers how they’re using CloudIQ and how CloudIQ is benefiting them, they’ve told us that CloudIQ enables them to solve issues. And again, part of that is proactively identifying them and remediating where they actually impact two to 10 times faster than without CloudIQ, and I think that’s a real benefit.
Shelly Kramer: I think that’s a solid value prop.
Susan Sharpe: Yes.
Shelly Kramer: So what makes CloudIQ different from other infrastructure monitoring and management tools that allow you to get to these results? What’s the secret sauce there?
Susan Sharpe: Well, the secret sauce in part was what I was talking about earlier in terms of those advanced analytics where we are able to provide, I like to say providing the needle in the haystack for the user, so the user doesn’t have to go compare days and days and weeks and weeks of charts and try to do eyeball correlations and things like that. We’re providing that right to our users right there in the interface. And so I think that is a tremendous time savings. And we like to say enabling humans can opt to be able to offload to the machines what machines do well so that humans can spend time and energy and more productive and more meaningful tasks. So those advanced analytics I’ve talked about in terms of the performance and capacity, anomaly detection, the fact that we have a proactive health score that identifies those potential vulnerabilities and with them, the recommended remediation to expedite that time to resolution, those are some of the real key capabilities that we have in CloudIQ, and we’re continuing to build on those.
Shelly Kramer: I think of it as letting the technology solution do the heavy lifting, and do the heavy lifting, do the onerous tasks and do it much more quickly generally speaking than humans could, and allow the rest of us to focus on what it is that other things that deliver significant business value. I think to me, that’s an important part of the value proposition there.
Susan Sharpe: That’s exactly right. And I’ll just give an example, another survey. We asked our customers, what kind of time savings is CloudIQ providing for you? And they said, on average, nine hours a week. I like to say that’s a workday for some people. That’s not a workday, but we’ll call that a full workday per week. And I think that’s a tremendous benefit as well or value prop.
Shelly Kramer: Oh, I agree. I was just having a conversation with a colleague and he made the mention of people talk about a four-day work week. I feel like I need four more days in each week. And so to me, getting those nine hours, I’ll take it. It’s not a workday for me, but I’ll take those nine hours anyway I can get them. So I think that’s amazing.
So from a do more with less standpoint, I feel like some of the functionality that I see that I feel is incredibly attractive or would be attractive to me is the fact that you can access CloudIQ from a browser or by way of a mobile app on your phone. So anywhere I go, I can get the information I need. And then CloudIQ is hosted on Dell IT Cloud, so that means my team doesn’t have any software to install or to maintain or updating infrastructure or personal devices. Everything is just a few clicks away. I find that personally incredibly appealing. What other parts of the do … and that’s how I look at do more with less, just easier access, fewer things to do, fewer things to worry about. What is in your mind when we talk about being able to do more with less?
Susan Sharpe: Well, I’m glad you included the mobile app. That was a really key aspect of that. In addition to the mobile app, we also allow users to customize the email notifications that they receive. And I know for some people, email is old school, so for people who are a little bit more contemporary, we also have the ability to integrate any of those health issue notifications to integrate that with other applications through a web hook API.
Shelly Kramer: That’s great.
Susan Sharpe: And they tie that into communications channels like Slack or Teams. They can tie this into their ticketing systems like ServiceNow. And we even have users who are starting to build those notifications into predefined workloads. So talking about doing more with less with the click of a button, they can take the remediation they need to and they very quickly remediate the issue, not to mention also reduce or remove the human element out of that, the human error element I should say. When you’re trying to find something in a UI and click on the right device that you need to delete or expand, being able to have all that integrated in a predefined workflow and all you have to do is click to approve I think is really huge. So I think those are examples as well.
Shelly Kramer: I love it. So one of the last things I want to talk about is actually one of my very favorite topics, and I think it’s incredibly important here. Let’s talk about security. How does that fit in?
Susan Sharpe: So security is essential. Our customers have absolutely said this is a top priority for them. So we first introduced cybersecurity analysis for some of our storage systems. We recently added in for PowerEdge servers, and that was an enormous step forward because if you think about the span of number of servers in a given environment and just the overhead of having to ensure security settings for those and the number of times, let’s say it takes you 10 to 15 minutes to manually check security settings on every server, I think that’s probably realistic, and then you multiply that by hundreds or thousands of servers in the environment really build without CloudIQ-
Shelly Kramer: Overwhelming.
Susan Sharpe: Overwhelming to say the least. Yes, daunting for sure. And so with the CloudIQ cybersecurity support for servers, now users can create a given template for their servers or number of templates, however they want to do that. They define what those settings need to be. They apply that to some or all of the servers depending on those settings in their environment. And now CloudIQ is proactively scanning, eliminating those manual steps across those hundreds and thousands of servers, taking out that overwhelming and daunting task by automating that by use of the cybersecurity supported PowerEdge servers.
Shelly Kramer: Well, I love that. And the application here of machine learning and predictive AI, which is all about helping customers zero in quickly on those problem areas and assessing infrastructure. One thing that I like that stood out to me is that the platform assesses whether your infrastructure security configurations adhere to your policy and then quickly identifies the problem areas that you have and then recommends actions to help keep data safe. Those are all, to me, onerous tasks that are time consuming, and so relying on the technology to be able to do that for you I think is a massive lift.
Susan Sharpe: Definitely. That’s the way we see it too, but I’m glad to hear you say it.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So what’s ahead? What can we expect in the future from CloudIQ, Susan?
Susan Sharpe: Well, we want to build on some of these capabilities that we have. So we’ll continue to expand our cybersecurity support for the rest of the products in the portfolio. We’ll continue to hone the proactive health and start to bring in some customization into that. We will start to add to the performance analysis that we’re performing or providing today and really zero in on more end to end correlation and intelligence and what I like calling connecting the dots across that. And then also, continue to provide more intelligence in terms of capacity prediction and analysis and identifying, again, the fastest and best recommended ways to remediate those potential capacity issues in the environment so users don’t get that 2 AM phone call.
Shelly Kramer: Nobody wants those 2 AM phone calls, ever, never ever. Well, Susan, this has been a fantastic conversation. I am all in on CloudIQ and the benefits that the AIOps software can deliver, and I so appreciate you spending time with us today here and walking us through the platform and the benefits and everything else. For our listening and viewing audience, know that we recently published a research report, a short research brief on this topic. I’ll include that in our show notes here for you, and I will include a link to Susan’s LinkedIn profile in case you want to reach out to her. I’ll include a link to the Dell website where you can learn more about CloudIQ and get any questions that you have answered. But with that, Susan Sharpe, thank you so much for spending time with us today and I’m sure we’ll be talking again soon.
Susan Sharpe: Thanks so much for inviting me and I look forward to talking again in the near future.
Shelly Kramer: Absolutely. We’ll see you.
Susan Sharpe: Bye-bye.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”