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Analytics comes to IT service management

Analytics comes to IT service management

ManageEngine, a division of Zoho, is looking to leverage its IT management domain expertise to offer a self-service IT analytics solution to help IT better utilize the data it generates.

To help the IT function better understand the data it generates, real-time IT management specialist ManageEngine today took the wraps off its new self-service IT analytics solution, Analytics Plus.

"One of the things that we've realized and our customers have realized is that, ironically, as big data has become a major talking point and major point of interest for customers, IT has lagged in that area in terms of using analytics solutions to better understand and optimize IT management," says Raj Sabhlok, president of ManageEngine, a division of Zoho.

"This announcement that we're making is a reflection of that," Sabhlok says. "IT probably generates the most machine data, yet has spent probably the least amount of time analyzing that data. That led to our realization and our customers' requirement to get a better handle on that machine data or infrastructure data so IT can make better decisions."

The problem, Sabhlok says is too many organizations use too many IT tools to run their business. The tools may support IT users, infrastructure and business applications, but the data (and all the data formats) created by those tools are stored in silos. Getting at that data for visibility and insight often requires complex or expensive tools that need to be customized by experts.

Where's the payoff?

"Most companies want the IT analytics payoff, but few want to pay the steep IT analytics price," adds Sridhar Iyengar, vice president of ManageEngine. "We know IT management and how to make it both powerful and simple. We know IT admins, managers, CIOs and CEOs and what they expect in analytics-driven insights. And we know business intelligence and analytics thanks to the 10 years our sister division, Zoho.com, has spent refining those technologies, which we're leveraging in Analytics Plus."

[ Related: 8 ways IBM Watson Analytics is transforming business ]

Sabhlok notes Analytics Plus is designed for mid- to large-sized organizations and integrates with various data sources and tools. It can be installed and configured in minutes, and features a drag-and-drop visual studio for creating dashboards.

Features include the following:

  • Data blending, analytics and statistics. Analytics Plus lets you perform cross-data analytics and offers a "look up" model to merge different data sets using common fields. It provides pre-built analytical functions and an excel-like formula engine with an extensive library of mathematical and statistical functions.
  • Visual presentation and analysis. You can create reports and dashboards that include charts, widgets, KPI metrics, pivot tables and tabular view components. The dashboards let users visually slice-and-dice data, drill down into details and change the appearance using different chart types and pre-defined templates.
  • A single tool for unifying insights from various data sources.The Analytics Plus architecture lets users analyze data from a variety of data sources including spreadsheets, files and feeds, relational and non-relational databases, applications and Web APIs.
  • Sharing and collaborative working. Users can securely share reports and dashboards with others. Dashboards can be embedded in websites, intranets and other Web apps for wider access with fine-grained control.
  • Work seamlessly across Web and mobile. An Analytics Plus mobile app for Android and iOS tablets allows users to access and interact with the reports and dashboards they've already created.

Inside look at ITSM

Iyengar says that ManageEngine's domain expertise in IT management is what sets Analytics Plus apart from other analytics and visualization solutions. He points to Analytics Plus for ITSM, the flagship of the company's self-service IT analytics offerings as proof.

[ Related: 21 data and analytics trends that will dominate 2016 ]

It service management (ITSM) and the IT service desk have become the cornerstone of IT strategy over the past several years, helping organizations deliver high-quality IT services efficiently. Improving IT service delivery and efficiency requires even better ITSM processes, Iyengar says. And improving those processes requires analyzing data from service desk tools.

A service desk manager could use Analytics Plus for ITSM to analyze trends on incoming tickets, see how many are resolved, what service desk utilization trends look like and more.

"How quickly are you able to turn around and resolve tickets?" Iyengar asks. "What are the trends? Is responsiveness increasing? These are all use cases that would be important for any IT decision makers to understand."

It could also provide meaningful insight in other areas. If an organization provides employees with cell phones, it could use the solution to gain insight into the different phone models employees ask for. The data could be used to more effectively negotiate with phone vendors.

"It could help with software planning, forecasting, costing, budgeting," Iyengar says.

Beyond this initial offering, Iyengar says ManageEngine plans to expand Analytics Plus with more capabilities in the areas of ITSM analytics, IT operational analytics and IT security analytics, as well as advanced analytical capabilities such as predictive analytics. The solution will also grow to support ManageEngine and non-ManageEngine tools and products that are used by IT teams.

Analytics Plus is currently in beta. It will be licensed based on the number of users accessing it and will be available in two editions. The Personal edition will be free to use and the Professional edition will stat at an annual subscription cost of $1,995 per year, which includes two users and comes with a free, 30-day trial. Additional users will be priced under $200 per user, per year. The company says perpetual buyout license and OEM white-label options are also available.

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