Welcome!

Apache Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, John Mertic, Liz McMillan, Janakiram MSV

Related Topics: @BigDataExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo, Apache

@BigDataExpo: Article

Babies, Big Data, and IT Analytics

Machine learning is a topic that has gone from obscure niche to mainstream visibility over the last few years

Machine learning and IT analytics can be just as beneficial to IT operations as it is for monitoring vital signs of premature babies to identify danger signs too subtle or abnormal to be detected by a human. But an enterprise must be willing to implement monitoring and instrumentation that gathers data and incorporates business activity across organizational silos in order to get meaningful results from machine learning.

Machine learning is a topic that has gone from obscure niche to mainstream visibility over the last few years. High profile software companies like Splunk have tapped into the Big Data "explosion" to highlight the benefits of building systems that use algorithms and data to make decisions and evolve over time.

One recent article on machine learning on the O'Reilly Radar blog that caught my attention made a connection between web operations and medical care for premature infants. "Operations, machine learning, and premature babies" by Mike Loukides describes how machine learning is used to analyze data streamed from dozens of monitors connected to each baby. The algorithms are able to detect dangerous infections a full day before any symptoms are noticeable to a human.

An interesting point from the article is that the machine learning system is not looking for spikes or irregularities in the data; it is actually looking for the opposite. Babies who are about to become sick stop exhibiting the normal variations in vital signs shown by healthy babies. It takes a machine learning system to detect changes in behavior too subtle for a human to notice.

Mike Loukides then wonders whether machine learning can be applied to web operations. Typical performance monitoring focuses on thresholds to identify a problem. "But what if crossing a threshold isn't what indicates trouble, but the disappearance (or diminution) of some regular pattern?" Machine learning could identify symptoms that a human fails to identify because he's just looking for thresholds to be crossed.

Mike's conclusion sums up much of the state of the IT industry concerning machine learning:

At most enterprises, operations have not taken the next step. Operations staff doesn't have the resources (neither computational nor human) to apply machine intelligence to our problems. We'd have to capture all the data coming off our servers for extended periods, not just the server logs that we capture now, but any every kind of data we can collect: network data, environmental data, I/O subsystem data, you name it.

As someone who works for a company that applies a form of machine learning (Behavior Learning for predictive analytics) to IT operations and application performance management, I read this with great interest. I didn't necessarily disagree with his conclusion but tried to pull apart the reasoning behind why more companies aren't applying algorithms to their IT data to look for problems.

There are at least three requirements for companies who want to move ahead in this area:

1. Establish maturity of one's monitoring infrastructure. This is the most fundamental point. If you want to apply machine intelligence to IT operations then you need to first add instrumentation and monitoring. Numerous monitoring products and approaches abound but you have to get the data before you can analyze it.

2. Coordinate multiple enterprise silos. Modern IT applications are increasingly complex and may cross multiple enterprise silos such as server virtualization, network, databases, application development, and other middleware components. Enterprises must be willing to coordinate between these multiple groups in gathering monitoring data and performing cross-functional troubleshooting when there are performance or uptime issues.

3. Incorporate business activity monitoring (BAM). Business activity data provides the "vital signs" of a business. Examples of retail business activity data include number of units sold, total gross sales, and total net sales for a time period. Knowing the true business impact of an application performance problem requires the correlation of business data. When an outage occurred for 20 minutes, how many fewer units were sold? What was the reduction in gross and net sales?

An organization that can fulfill these requirements is capable of achieving real benefits in IT operations and can successfully apply analytics. Gartner has established the ITScore Maturity Model for determining one's sophistication in availability and performance monitoring. Here is the description for level 5, which is the top tier:

Behavior Learning engines, embedded knowledge, advanced correlation, trend analysis, pattern matching, and integrated IT and business data from sources such as BAM provide IT operations with the ability to dynamically manage the IT infrastructure in line with business policy.

Applying machine learning to IT operations isn't easy. Most enterprises don't do it because they need to overcome organizational inertia and gather data from multiple groups scattered throughout the enterprise. For the organizations willing to do this, however, they will see tangible business benefits. Just as a hospital could algorithmically detect the failing health of a premature infant, an enterprise willing to use machine learning will visibly see how abnormal problems within IT operations can impact revenue.

More Stories By Richard Park

Richard Park is Director of Product Management at Netuitive. He currently leads Netuitive's efforts to integrate with application performance and cloud monitoring solutions. He has nearly 20 years of experience in network security, database programming, and systems engineering. Some past jobs include product management at Sourcefire and Computer Associates, network engineering and security at Booz Allen Hamilton, and systems engineering at UUNET Technologies (now part of Verizon). Richard has an MS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a BA in Social Studies from Harvard University.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
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...
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...
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...
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.
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, 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.