AIOps and SASE – A Match Made in the Cloud

Elana Marom
February 16, 2021

Imagine handling a vacation booking at The Venetian without the right hotel management software. It’s hard to even picture the time, effort and resources needed for basic actions like verifying a room’s availability, knowing when a room is clean for early check-in, granting guests independent access to hotel facilities without key cards, calculating the cost at check-out, etc.

Now picture an IT team equipped with legacy tools, trying to manually control an enterprise network in a multi-cloud environment, with physical datacenters, global branches, numerous employees working from everywhere and on any device, and huge volumes of data constantly being generated. Sounds out of control…

The analogy is clear: Just like The Venetian can’t be managed like a small inn from the previous century, today’s IT Operations (ITOps) can’t be effectively run with traditional tools designed for a different type of network, and different era. The needs of today’s digital business – especially with a global crisis in the background – call for some heavy-duty automation.

According to Gartner, the notion of ITOps becoming smarter and “independently” automated, is already here and available. And it’s called AIOps.

AIOps to the Rescue

The objective of Artificial Intelligence for ITOs (AIOps) is to empower IT to regain control of network and security in today’s complex, challenging environment via artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) techniques that automate ITOps. AIOps continuously learns the patterns of an enterprise’s network, operations, and remediation actions, in order to expedite and improve processes, decision making and overall business performance.

The effect of AIOps is across the board, resulting in highly productive employees, happier customers, and better bottom line. Gartner defines Artificial Intelligence for IT operations (AIOps) as “the application of machine learning and data science to IT operations problems,” and predicts that exclusive use of AIOps for monitoring applications and infrastructure will rise from 5% in 2018 to 30% in 2023. In fact, according to Gartner “the long-term impact of AIOps on IT operations will be transformative.”

Transformative is a word with great significance. As is the word transformational used by Gartner to describe SASE. Is it merely a coincidence that today’s hottest subject – SASE, and AIOps, share the similar quality of being so impactful on the network and security industry? And what makes AIOps worthy of such a title? Let’s find out.

Transforming the Way IT Manages Enterprise Assets

When faced with network issues that need to be addressed, IT must identify what the problem is, but just as important, IT needs to understand how the problem can affect the business. Understanding this is crucial for moving from a reactive mode to a proactive mode.

With AIOps, the process of pinpointing and addressing a problem can be done on the spot, and many times even before the problem occurs. For example, preventing performance degradation or mitigating outages so that the customer experience isn’t affected. This is where AIOps brings ITOps to a whole new level.

How does this magic happen? Gartner defined three major qualities of AIOps:

  • Observe: Gathering and monitoring data.
  • Engage: Understanding and analyzing the data.
  • Act: Automating actions and responding to problems.

 

Gartner AIOps

By analyzing the data from AI/ML based platforms, IT extracts accurate, actionable insights to automatically detect and respond to problems in real-time, and ahead of time. Analysis and decision-making are “offloaded” to an artificial brain that is able to process data, identify threats, make correlations, alert, and respond faster and more accurately than the manual brain.

AIOps with a SASE Twist

To truly deliver on the transformative promise of AIOps and reap the benefits, the right underlying infrastructure is needed. This means a transformational network infrastructure that enables visibility into all of the enterprise’s data, alongside the ability to deliver continuous insights across all IT platforms and tools.

Full network visibility is dependent on a converged, cloud-native architecture. And Gartner’s Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is exactly that: the convergence of all networking functions and security into a unified cloud service, based on edge identity, combined with real-time context, and security policies.

Unfortunately, a network built on disparate point solutions with traditional technological silos can’t utilize AIOps to its full potential. In today’s complex network environment, a root cause of a problem can stem from various factors or a combination of some. It can be a problem in a specific branch, cloud datacenter or related to a service or an event; it can be a problem at the network level, application level or device-related. And, if AIOps is dependent of a fragmented infrastructure, finding, remediating, and preventing a problem becomes extremely challenging and significantly less effective.

The Great Responsibility that Comes with AIOps

On a personal note, and unlike a vendor offering boxes, we talk from experience when we say that delivering on the promise of AIOps comes with the great responsibility of having to act quickly and accurately without negatively affecting the customer.

Being the first true SASE vendor means that our infrastructure affects our many customers, and there’s no room for mistakes. This is why we built a global private backbone of 60+ PoPs, with self-healing capabilities that ensure ongoing, uninterrupted service. Our SASE platform enables us to implement the three requirements of Gartner for AIOps:

  • Gathering and monitoring data, stored in our big data repository (observe).
  • Applying AI and ML algorithms to understand and analyze the data and identify the root cause of a problem (engage).
  • Preventing and responding to problems automatically and accurately (act).

With SASE as the underlying network, customers benefit from AIOps without having to plan complicated strategies, make adjustments to their infrastructure, or hire AIOps experts.

AIOps presents a real boost to the modern digital business. We recognize this. Customers realize this. It’s exciting! But AIOps is too huge to cover in one blog post. Stay tuned for future posts, where we’ll share real stories, and explain the magic behind the SASE-based AIOps use cases.

 

Elana Marom

Elana Marom is a full stack marketer with over 20 years of experience in both startups and enterprises. As Director of Product Marketing at Cato Networks, Elana is passionate about raising awareness for SASE and helping customers leverage its value to prepare their business for whatever is next.