A Proactive Approach To Monitoring the Health of IT Can Help Maximize Efficiencies, Reduce Costs, and Enhance Customer Satisfaction
By Mike Morris, IT Director of Customer-1, NetApp
Any company that has gone from a startup to a global player knows the pains in keeping up with the infrastructure required to support large-scale business operations. As companies continue to grow, the need for synergy among all levels of IT operations becomes more critical when provisioning applications and systems to keep up with the expanding business.
When NetApp was going through a period of hyper-growth, the infrastructure required to support global business operations evolved rapidly. This growth ultimately lead to an architecture comprised of different legacy hardware and software systems, which caused inefficiencies across IT operations and placed IT teams in a reactive rather than proactive state.
This scenario brings to mind the old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well, this saying doesn’t apply just to one’s health—it also applies to the health of IT operations. Rather than react to symptoms as they occur, it’s important that IT take a proactive approach to maximizing operational efficiencies and system uptime.
A storage-based preventive-care program can help. Ours is called Customer Fitness, a set of methodologies and tools that enables our IT organization—which we call Customer-1—to manage costs by sustaining maximum uptime. We started by assigning our storage engineers specific lines of service. For example, one engineer is responsible for data protection, another for storage performance and capacity, and so on. Dividing-up responsibilities gives them more time to focus on proactive maintenance and write processes for the operations team to follow in the event of an operations incident.
Proactive maintenance should be a priority of any IT shop. Before you establish a process, first identify which tasks are most important to work on. At NetApp IT, we achieve this via our AutoSupport tool, which takes inventory of every storage controller in a given environment, continuously checks on health, and identifies risks for a particular system.
Each week, results appear in a personalized, secure web portal called “My AutoSupport” that recommends to our service-line engineers which conditions in a customer’s system should be addressed first and the proactive steps needed to avoid issues.
Recommendations are based on diagnostics that are continuously updated from our internal NetApp systems and are correlated with the diagnostics gathered from our customer installed based, providing insight into what needs fixing right away. This feedback allows us to be proactive. Sure, this type of updating (or “mining,” as some would call it) is “big data analytics,” but it’s applied only to the specific systems we have—and that’s valuable insight that no organization could replicate on its own.
Our efforts over the past six months have resulted in a 90 percent drop in “priority one” issues. We have also eliminated 800 staff hours per year in issue-remediation and have saved 160 staff hours annually by automating storage inventory. By freeing-up staff time, our IT teams can focus on enhancing customer satisfaction, as well as increasing their skill set through the NetApp Learning Center.
Preventive care is a process of continuous improvement: You don’t work out once and say “I’m healthy”; you keep working out several times a week, and the benefits grow over time.
Read the success story, “An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Benefits with New NetApp Fitness Storage Preventive Care,” to learn how NetApp institutionalized proactive maintenance via the Customer Fitness Program.
The NetApp-on-NetApp blog series features advice from subject matter experts from NetApp IT who share their real-world experiences using NetApp’s industry-leading storage solutions to support business goals. Want to view learn more about the program? Visit www.NetAppIT.com.