Exploring Assisted Intelligence for Operations (AIOps)

May 25, 2023

In today's digital era, the complexity and scale of operations have significantly increased, making it challenging for organizations to effectively manage and troubleshoot issues. Assisted Intelligence for Operations (AIOps) emerges as a promising solution, combining big data analytics, machine learning, and automation to assist operations teams in making sense of vast amounts of data and improving operational efficiency. Coined by Gartner in 2016, AIOps holds the potential to transform the way businesses handle operations by providing insights, automating tasks, and predicting and preventing issues.

Understanding AIOps:

At its core, AIOps leverages advanced algorithms and techniques to harness the power of big data and machine learning. It helps in processing and analyzing large volumes of operational data, such as logs, events, metrics, and traces, to identify patterns, detect anomalies, and provide actionable insights. The primary goal of AIOps is to enable organizations to achieve efficient and proactive operations management by automating routine tasks, facilitating root cause analysis, and predicting and preventing issues before they impact the business.

Key Challenges with AIOps:

While AIOps offers immense potential, there are several challenges that organizations need to address to fully realize its benefits:

  1. Limited Knowledge of Data Science: Implementing AIOps requires expertise in data science, machine learning, and statistical analysis. Organizations may face challenges in hiring and upskilling personnel with the necessary skills to effectively leverage AIOps technologies.

  2. Service Complexity and Dependency: Modern IT infrastructures are complex and interconnected, making it difficult to determine service dependencies accurately. AIOps solutions need to handle this complexity and provide a holistic view of the entire system to identify the root cause of issues accurately.

  3. Issue with Trust and Validity: Organizations often struggle with trusting AIOps systems due to concerns about the accuracy and validity of the insights and recommendations generated. Ensuring transparency and reliability are crucial to building trust in AIOps technologies.

The Good: Top Areas for AIOps Implementation:

While there are challenges, AIOps also presents several opportunities for improving operations management. Here are some areas where AIOps can deliver significant benefits:

  • Anomaly Detection: AIOps can help identify and alert operations teams about unusual patterns or outliers in system behavior, enabling faster response and troubleshooting.

  • Configuration Change Detection: AIOps can automatically detect and track configuration changes, providing visibility into the impact of these changes on the system and facilitating faster problem resolution.

  • Metrics-based Telemetry and Infrastructure Services: AIOps can analyze metrics and telemetry data to provide insights into the performance and health of infrastructure services, enabling proactive maintenance and optimization.

  • Suggesting Known Failures: AIOps can leverage historical data and patterns to suggest potential failures or issues that have occurred before, helping teams to proactively address them.

  • Predictive Remediation: By analyzing patterns and historical data, AIOps can predict potential issues or failures and recommend remediation actions, allowing teams to take preventive measures before the problems occur.

Examples of AIOps in AWS:

Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers several services and features that incorporate AIOps capabilities:

  • CloudWatch Anomaly Detection: AWS CloudWatch provides anomaly detection capabilities, allowing users to automatically identify unusual patterns or behaviors in their monitored data, such as CPU usage, network traffic, or application logs.

  • DevOps Guru Recommendation: AWS DevOps Guru uses machine learning to analyze operational data, detect anomalies, and provide actionable recommendations for resolving issues and improving system performance.

  • Predictive Scaling for EC2: AWS provides predictive scaling capabilities for EC2 instances, which leverages historical data and machine learning algorithms to automatically adjust the capacity of EC2 instances based on predicted demand, ensuring optimal performance and cost efficiency.

The Bad: Top Areas for Improvement:

While AIOps has shown promise, there are still areas that require improvement to fully realize its potential:

  • Complex Service and Relationship Dependencies: AIOps solutions need to better handle complex service architectures and accurately identify dependencies between different services to provide more accurate insights and root cause analysis.

  • Rich Metadata and Tagging Practices: AIOps heavily relies on metadata and tagging practices to contextualize data. Organizations must maintain comprehensive metadata and adhere to good tagging practices to ensure accurate analysis and effective troubleshooting.

  • Long-Term Data for Recurring Patterns: AIOps systems can benefit from long-term historical data to identify recurring patterns and anomalies effectively. Organizations need to ensure data retention and build data repositories to leverage this capability.

  • Services You Don't Know, Control, or Instrument: AIOps may face limitations when dealing with third-party services or components that are outside the organization's control or lack proper instrumentation. Integrating such services into AIOps workflows can be challenging.

  • Cost vs. Benefit: Implementing and maintaining AIOps solutions can be resource-intensive. Organizations need to carefully evaluate the cost-benefit ratio to ensure that the insights and automation provided by AIOps justify the investment.

Examples of AIOps in AWS:

To address some of these challenges, AWS offers services like:

  • Distributed Tracing with AWS X-Ray: AWS X-Ray provides distributed tracing capabilities, allowing users to trace requests across microservices and gain insights into the dependencies and performance of different components, aiding in troubleshooting and performance optimization.

  • AWS Lookout for Metrics: AWS Lookout for Metrics applies machine learning algorithms to time series data, enabling users to detect anomalies and unusual patterns in their metrics, facilitating faster troubleshooting and proactive maintenance.

Tips to Remember when Implementing AIOps:

  • Best Place to Tag: Tags should be added during the creation of a service or resource to ensure consistency and ease of analysis.

  • Use Human-Readable Keys and Values: Shorter tags with meaningful and easily understandable keys and values simplify parsing and analysis, enhancing the effectiveness of AIOps.

  • Consistency in Naming and Format: Establish consistent naming conventions and tag formats across services and resources to ensure accurate data analysis and troubleshooting.

  • Consider Infrastructure as Code: Embrace infrastructure as code practices to maintain consistency and repeatability, enabling easier integration of AIOps capabilities into the development and deployment processes.

Must-Haves: Design Thinking for Engineers:

To effectively utilize AIOps, engineers should adopt a design thinking approach that encompasses the following:

  • Known Knowns: Utilize analogies, lateral thinking, and experience to solve known problems efficiently.

  • Known Unknowns: Build hypotheses, measure, and iterate using AIOps tools to explore and resolve previously unidentified issues.

  • Unknown Knowns: Engage in brainstorming and group sketching sessions to leverage the evolving AI features to uncover insights from existing data.

  • Unknown Unknowns: Embrace research and exploration to identify and address new and emerging challenges that current AIOps capabilities may not fully address yet.

The Ugly: Automatic Root Cause Analysis:

Despite the progress made in AIOps, fully automated root cause analysis remains a challenge. AIOps can assist in narrowing down the potential causes, but human expertise and investigation are still required to determine the definitive root cause in complex systems.


AIOps presents a powerful approach to managing and optimizing operations by harnessing the capabilities of big data analytics, machine learning, and automation. While challenges exist, AIOps can deliver significant benefits, including anomaly detection, configuration change detection, predictive remediation, and providing insights into infrastructure services. Organizations should carefully evaluate the implementation of AIOps, considering factors like service complexity, metadata management, and cost-benefit analysis. By combining human expertise with the capabilities of AIOps, organizations can unlock greater operational efficiency and proactively address issues before they impact their business.

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Victor Leung, who blog about business, technology and personal development. Happy to connect on LinkedIn