Would it be better to treat IT issues that appear again after some time? Well, it happens when you do not get to the underlying cause of an IT incident and only treat the symptoms. Many businesses have paid a heavy price for ignoring root cause analysis. If root cause analysis is not performed, the same IT incidents can result in system failure or downtime. A system failure has negative impacts on service availability and business continuity.
Since business organizations depend heavily on software systems and multimedia devices, it is essential to monitor their performance. Application performance monitoring is never complete without root cause analysis. Read on to know the applications of root cause analysis in IT and its importance.
Understanding Root Cause Analysis in Detail
RCA (Root Cause Analysis) is a reactive activity that is done after an IT incident is discovered. It involves getting to the depth of an IT incident and stopping it from happening again. RCA is essential for stopping device failures and performance issues that degrade service availability. RCA is concerned with three steps that are:
- Determining the IT issue that has occurred
- Determining the cause for any IT incident
- How to prevent the IT incident from happening again?
If business organizations fix only the symptoms of IT issues, they will appear again. You can be fully assured of your device performance only when you conduct root cause analysis. The results obtained after root cause analysis are used to prevent the IT incidents from happening again. One must not confuse RCA with application performance monitoring. RCA and application performance monitoring are used together to boost service availability. IT incidents are discovered only when rigorous application performance monitoring is performed. Once an IT incident is discovered, RCA is performed to discover the cause of any IT incident.
Applications of RCA in the Industry
Gone are the days when RCA was only used in the IT industry. At present, root cause analysis is used in several fields to get to the bottleneck of an issue/failure. The latest field to use RCA is the medical field. Medical experts are using RCA to find the cause of symptoms that appear in the patient. Besides treating the symptoms, doctors are using RCA to treat the real problem of the patient. Some of the industry applications of RCA are listed below:
- In the manufacturing industry, machine failures can decrease production power. RCA is used to find the real cause of machine failures.
- Failures in the robotics and engineering industries are treated with RCA to reach the bottleneck of issues.
- Quality control officers also use RCA to find the shortcomings of a product or service.
- Disaster management in the IT industry is treated with RCA. Incident analysis with RCA is effective as you know the underlying cause that has hampered the service availability.
- System failures, power outages, and capacity shortages in the IT industry can degrade service availability. RCA is used to reach the bottleneck of such issues by IT teams.
- RCA is also used for change, risk, and safety management.
- RCA is being used nowadays for pharmaceutical research.
Different types of RCA are performed based on the problem and industry sector. Construction firms use safety-based RCA to determine the reason for safety failures at construction sites. On the other hand, manufacturing firms use production-based RCA for effective quality control. The IT industry uses process-based, failure-based, and system-based root cause analysis. CXOs and system administrators in the IT industry should use RCA techniques to boost system health and service availability.
Challenges with Root Cause Analysis in the IT Industry
Conducting root cause analysis for IT incidents/disasters is never easy. A large amount of data is collected and analyzed to get to the bottleneck of system failures and IT incidents. RCA will not always provide you with a result. IT teams often waste more of their time in RCA and end up degrading the service availability. You may get a correlation between cause and effect which cannot define the actual problem.
If fixes to IT incidents are made without RCA, it may further increase the problem. Due to the increased complexity of software systems in the IT industry, RCA is tougher than ever. All the software systems of an organization are interconnected and, it is hard to find the one responsible for an IT incident. Low observability into software systems is a big challenge for RCA in the IT industry. IT professionals cannot collect ample data from software systems required for root cause analysis. Delay in RCA results in higher MTTD (Mean Time to Detect) which, ultimately decreases the service availability. Also, IT firms are finding it hard to decrease the time taken to perform RCA after an incident/disaster is encountered. Real-time root cause analysis is not possible with traditional analytics tools available in the market.
The Future: RCA with AIOps
With the increasing complexity of software systems, business organizations need a quicker solution for RCA. It is why AI automated root cause analysis solution is trending in the industry. With AIOps based analytics platforms, business organizations are conducting RCA in real-time. An AIOps-based RCA platform will study the relationship between data entities in real-time to identify the root cause of an IT incident. With AIOps based analytics platforms, IT teams can find issues before they impact the service reliability.
Gone are the days when low-level infrastructural errors were the root cause of power outages and system failures. At present, IT issues have moved up to the stack, databases, and cloud. IT infrastructures are dynamic and change according to the demands of the customers. All these changes have increased the importance of AI automated root cause analysis solutions. Real-time RCA is a basic feature of the best AIOps tools and products used in the IT industry. With better event correlation and predictive analytics models, AIOps can identify can reach the bottleneck of an IT issue quickly.
Due to the increased complexity of IT infrastructures, business organizations are forced to hire more system administrators. The manual burden on an SRE (Site Reliability Engineer) has also increased due to an increase in customer demands. By using AIOps, one can reduce the manual labor required for conducting root cause analysis. The installation charges for AIOps may seem high. However, it will help in slashing costs for incident/failure management in the long run. You will notice an immediate boost in service availability and reliability after using AIOps.
In a Nutshell
More than 20% of unplanned downtime in the industry occurs due to errors made by employees. If any errors occur during RCA, service availability will degrade. With AIOps, you can conduct real-time RCA to solve IT issues quickly.