Only a few years ago when we were installing monitoring tools (and more specifically Data Warehouses) a common limiting factor was the storage capacity needed. However over the last few years and with the advent of cloud and very cheap storage the problem has shifted. The issue now is how companies can make sense of the deluge of operational data that they are receiving.
This is where Analytics comes in. This blog will discuss how Netcool Operations Insight (NOI) can help, how you can get it and how you can look at the product before deciding.
What is Netcool Operations Insight?
NOI helps to streamline operations and combine the infrastructure and performance management data. How does it do this?
- It is based on (and powered by) Netcool OMNIbus which enables consolidation of many events into a small number of actionable problems. NOI comes with Netcool OMNIbus version 8.1 but older versions of OMNIbus continue to be supported within NOI until their normal EoS. However for full NOI functionality the ObjectServer, WebGUI and Impact servers will need to be upgraded at some time. Probes can be upgraded later as there is the usual full version interoperability.
- NOI includes Event Analytics by identifying common problems and diagnosing Root Cause by up to 15% quicker for most organisations.
- NOI provides cross-domain correlation, enrichment and consolidation of millions of alerts and alarms and operational data into a single operational view.
- It integrates data from IBM and non IBM solutions across a modern, mobile dashboard.
- It extends events by offering a search capability including Seasonal Event Analytics to identify regularly occurring events sorted by confidence and frequency.
What does all this mean? Essentially NOI helps to reduce the number of generated events into much smaller subset of actionable problems. It does this in both a real-time and a historical perspective further helping drive efficiencies.
So let’s take a look at some of these new features.
An Improved Dashboard
The dashboards have moved on from the Tivoli Integrated Portal (TIP) with a new modern dash boarding framework and an updated user interface. Dashboard Application Service Hub (DASH) provides a single console for administering IBM products and related applications. DASH is the UI for Jazz for Service Management. These dashboards are easier to create with the ability to drag and drop out of the box widgets and gauges and customise widgets for your business needs. This means IBM has seen a 60% faster creation of custom dashboards.
At long last the dependency on Java plug-ins is being removed (not quite there yet) but there is now a non-Java Event Viewer. One large North American bank who are leveraging the Event Viewer for their operators instead of the previous client have estimated that they will save up to $120,000 annually just by not having to update and manage the large number of Oracle-Java vulnerabilities that come out. The new Event Viewer has all the right-click tools that you have been used to in OMNIbus in the past.
And another side effect of this non java framework is that it allows the same dashboards you create for the desktop to automatically be rendered for Smartphones and tablets.
The last capability of DASH worth mentioning is the ability to more easily integrate performance KPIs or other types of 3rd party metrics into the dashboard.
The second new component included in NOI is Search Analytics. This is used in 2 different ways:
- Firstly from the Active Event list within Netcool Operations Insight, you can right-click launch into the Event Search capability. This allows you to very rapidly search all the events that are flowing through NOI, and index them and make them searchable. It also allows you to use new Search Dashboards to easily find hotspots in your environment, or to detect devices in your environment that are generating lots of alarm.
- Secondly there is a Guided Search which is a step-by-step process that takes you through various searches and views within the search capabilities to highlight common areas where you can look for efficiency gains within your environment.
If you are using ITNM then the search capabilities have been extended to make Search network path aware. This means not only can you search on the events in the historical archive, but you can also apply search to the network path information that comes from a network management capability.
Seasonality Analytics or seasonal event identification has been in NOI for over a year. This feature allows you to detect events that are reoccurring regularly at a particular “hour of day”, “day of week” and “day of month”. The Seasonality function works by analysing the historic event archive (REPORTER schema in the Tivoli Data Warehouse) and looking for individual events that occur with any sort of degree of regularity.
Claranet, who are one of Europe’s leading managed service providers, have so far reduced non-service affecting event alarms by 46% using this feature.
So how does all this help?
- You can analyse the event history to identify seasonal events sorted by confidence level and frequency.
- You can drill down to show time distributions of events and investigate peaks so that you can trace the root cause of reoccurring seasonal events.
- You can better align thresholds to seasonal peaks which further reduces events.
Domain Grouping Analytics
As we all know sometimes a failure can lead to a flood of events. An example of this could be an air conditioner failing in a specific Data Centre which could then lead to a large number of events from systems in this Data Centre which could fail due to overheating.
Another way of looking at this is “if something fails and creates events, and other things are affected by that failure and generate resulting events, these things can all be considered to be within the same scope”. NOI introduces a way to define and set this scope in the event set by setting the ScopeID of an event.
IBM have added this domain expertise into packs within NOI for out of the box event relationships. So far they have concentrated on technologies within the telecommunications space( e.g. Nokia and Huawei) and so far they have been able to reduce the number of events presented to the operator by close to 90%.
Related Event Analytics
The previous section describes a framework for grouping events based on a scope relative to a time window. But what if your event data has no easily definable scope?
The analytics-based Related Event Grouping function analyses the Tivoli Data Warehouse (REPORTER schema) looking for groups of events that always occur together and within the same time window.
Once the analytics engine has performed this analysis the administrator can look through the resulting groupings that are found in the portal and if the grouping is valid they can then either:
- Watch – the system will continue to gather statistics about the grouping until further notice.
- Archive – the system will store the grouping away for later reference
- Deploy – the system will automatically group these events together in the Event Viewer if any of the events are seen again in the future
This too helps further reduce events with very little operator work.
So how do you get it?
NOI is not a free upgrade from Netcool/OMNIbus however it is also not a completely new purchase. Essentially to get the product you need to understand the licenses you already have and then pay a slight uplift on the renewal of the products you already own. IBM says this is to reflect the increased value that you get from these products.
The licensing has been simplified too with several (what I think) are improvements:
- No BASE licences required for OMNIbus or Impact capability
- You do not need to count separately for High Availability as Netcool Operations Insight has High Availability embedded*
- Ops Insight is licenced only by the managed environment
The HA change is for Netcool Operations Insight only and customer’s on the old license structure still require base licenses and separate entitlement for high availability.
This table shows exactly what the changes are when working out the new costs.
|New Metrics||Old OMNIbus and Impact metrics|
|Managed Virtual Server||Device RVU,EMS RVU|
|Managed Virtual Network Device||Device RVU,EMS RVU|
|Managed Client Device||Basic Device RVU|
|Connection||Data Exchange,Event Forwarding ,Gateways,DSAs|
|No requirement||OMNIbus Base,Impact Base|
There are also some other licensing advantages to NOI with regards to other products:
The search capabilities leverage another IBM product called Logfile Analytics. If you have licenses for NOI then you have unlimited entitlement to search events as previously discussed however you can also use it to search across other data types up to a daily limit of 2-gigabytes. Anything beyond that will need an extension to the license.
Predictive Insights is a performance-based analytic tool that analyses performance metrics. It learns the normal behaviour of your performance management metrics and if there a deviation from that norm it will issue an anomaly event. This integration into NOI is an out-of-the-box integration however no licenses are included for free.
If you would like to know more about the product itself or the licensing then don’t hesitate to contact us. We also have several offering in this place:
- A 2 hour On-site workshop to talk through the product and the licensing so that you can get an idea how much it will cost for your organisation and the benefits it will bring.
- Off-site analysis of your event data from your OMNIbus archive. We will analyse your data using a cloud Netcool Operations Insight installation and then come back to you with the results.
- A free 1 day Netcool Operations Insight technical workshop or training class in which we will go through the features described above in more details and let you see how they work yourself.
If you are interested in any of these offerings then please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org