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Visibility-as-a-Service: Transforming IT landscape

Marcus Session, VP- Information Technology, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA)
Marcus Session, VP- Information Technology, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA)

Marcus Session, VP- Information Technology, Hillsborough County Aviation Authority (HCAA)

Organizations are undergoing massive digital transformation projects for more efficient allocation of resources to new projects, streamlining the management of business operations utilizing technology. Elements of a productive digital transformation initiative would see technology projects like cloud, DevOps, SD-WAN, machine learning, and AI coordinated strategically with robust ‘visibility,’ which allows the organizations business units to work more efficiently and respond quickly to change.  Visibility helps companies take preventative measures by spotting patterns that precede failures, reducing downtime and costs. Also, it is a central pillar to the customer experience, which is an essential factor of a successful business.

Trends and Challenges in Today’s IT Landscape

At present, we are leaving behind several traditional methods of how we deliver IT services. Many organizations avoid migration to cloud or a co-located data center due to the requirement to re-train staff.  The traditional IT employees, working for almost 10-15 years, are facing friction in coping with the sudden digital transformation initiatives you see across the industry.  Technology leadership in organizations have to go through this transformation themselves in order to learn how to better develop the needed skills in their teams.  This is a challenge because many employees do not embrace change easily, especially if what they have been doing for years seems to be working fine.  Organizations are preparing for the future by retraining and adapting their culture to accept change more openly, and experimenting with new ways of working. In the present market scenario, it is vital for companies to have an open mind about the adoption of emerging trends and technologies because the market will demand flexibility and quick delivery of technology services.

Visibility-as-a-Service: The Emerging Trend

Visibility-as-a-service (VaaS) is continuously transforming the IT services arena. VaaS is based on the rapid deployment of right-sized toolsets to eliminate IT silos while reducing time and cost to operations. VaaS ensures consistent performance and security of network infrastructure at all times. In an organization, the internal IT teams have struggled to properly monitor and maintain the visibility of their services. For instance, if an organization installs several monitoring tools in different departments, the IT leadership needs to expend substantial manual effort to generate reports on visibility and monitor the reliability and performance of each system. Many technology organizations are still using spreadsheets to provide visibility to stakeholders, and manually use tools like Tableau to visualize the data.

  Visibility-as-a-Service is crucial to the performance and security of modern organizations​​  

VaaS implementations in organizations that have both cloud and on-premises deployments provide significant value.  If we can provide prebuilt streams of information for comprehensive visibility, it can be a game-changer for technology teams. Visibility-driven monitoring aids organizations in detecting patterns that could indicate malicious activity or anomalies on the network. Organizations can also speed up their ability to troubleshoot issues proactively and focus more on other value-adding tasks.

Recent Developments and Initiatives in IT Services

Tampa International Airport recently completed the first phase of our airport master plan, which was a $1 billion project.  We built a new automated people mover system that connects the main terminal to the economy garage and brand-new rental car center (RCC).  The people mover is fully controlled and managed by a technology-driven system that has full monitoring capabilities.  The project has provided airport guests with a unique benefit, they can check-in their luggage, get boarding passes, and drop their bags remotely at the RCC.  They then ride the people mover to the main terminal, which allows them to head directly to their gate.  This saves a lot of time, and instead of guests having to carry their luggage through the terminal they save time before going through security and settling in before their flight.

Some of the other projects that we are currently working on are based on visibility. We partnered with a company that was looking to get into the airport market. We built a predictive analytics solution with them for our airport operations team to provide the required visibility on day to day airport activities, so that business units can make informed decisions using data.  With any flight divergence, the predictive analytics solution provides information on the number of people getting off the diverted plane. It also provides a wide variety of information so that our airport operations team can proactively prepare for changing conditions, it’s an important aspect to providing a great customer experience.The airport operations team in this case is essentially using visibility-as-a-service because all of the information that was in separate systems before is now combined into one location.  This is an example of a technology tool delivered by IT solving a business problem, and the benefit is it has provided a roadmap to how this would be applied to other areas of the organization.

Advice for Technology Leaders and Organizations

Technology leaders should always be mindful of their alignment with the business and customer demands. As a people-based business, technology organizations must focus on training staff to think differently, prepare for change, understand business requirements, and predict ways to help the company reach its goals.  Leaders in organizations should be trained to think strategically rather than constantly focusing on the day to day tactical tasks.  Business goals should be understood, reviewed, and confirmed on a regular basis.  Then the need for utilizing technology to achieve those goals can be planned and executed, this is important because we have to make sure our teams understand “the why” when initiatives are brought forward.  If organizations can provide proper training on thinking differently and being open to change, the technology industry can achieve a higher adoption of initiatives that will enable the goals of the business to be realized quicker.

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