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Automated incident response in ITOps: Here’s everything you need to know

If you’re like most IT leaders, you realize that automating repetitive, low-level incident response actions is key to unlocking enhanced workforce productivity, improved IT services, minimized downtime, better user experiences, cost savings, and the freedom to focus on innovation.

Yet you don’t know where to start – or maybe aren’t sure of the best approach.

We’ll discuss everything you need to know in this article, from the basics of applying automation in incident management, tips and tools, and how to overcome common challenges. Read on to discover:

  • Challenges of incident response in IT
  • What is an automated incident response in IT operations?
  • Benefits of automated incident response
  • Challenges to automation in IT Operations
  • Overcoming the barriers to effective automation
  • Choosing tools to automate the incident response process
  • Example of automated incident response
  • Automate more of your incident response with BigPanda and Red Hat® Ansible®

Challenges of incident response in IT

IT operations face considerable challenges in incident response. IT teams are under immense pressure from the sheer volume and complexity of incidents and high expectations for system uptime. Rapid technological advancements and the integration of diverse systems add layers of complexity, making quick and accurate responses more difficult.

Organizations struggle to effectively manage this influx of alerts, often leading to delayed response times and potential system downtimes. Efficiently addressing these incidents is crucial for maintaining system reliability and ensuring uninterrupted business operations, highlighting the need for advanced, automated solutions in incident management.

What is an automated incident response in IT operations?

Automated incident response is the automation of the IT incident management process. In this context, an incident refers to any event that disrupts normal service or application operation or performance.

During the automated incident response process, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are used to automate the analysis, detection, investigation, triage and response of incidents.

Benefits of automated incident response

Automating incident response in IT operations is crucial for rapidly addressing issues, reducing human error, and ensuring consistent, efficient management of system disruptions.

  • Faster detection and proactive issue prevention: When an incident is detected, automated incident response systems can send real-time alerts and notifications to relevant IT personnel or teams. This ensures the right people are informed promptly, facilitating faster response times. This helps reduce downtime and expedite the overall incident resolution process. This rapid detection allows you to address issues before they become full-blown incidents.
  • Efficient notification and alerting: Automated incident response systems can send instant notifications to the right IT personnel at the right time to reduce downtime and speed up incident resolution. In addition, automatic incident triage adds critical business context, which shortens the incident management lifecycle by simplifying the triage phase.
  • Orchestration and workflow automation: Another important benefit of automated incident response is that the tools can create predefined workflows for common issues. This automates the coordination of various tasks and actions, ensuring a seamless and standardized response to incidents. These workflows guide the system through a series of actions to contain, mitigate, or resolve the incident, reducing the time to address problems. What’s more, you can customize them to match your specific processes and procedures.
  • Prompt containment and remediation: Automated incident response tools also include built-in capabilities for automated remediation. They can execute predefined actions or workflows to address, contain, and even eradicate common issues. Additionally, these can apply temporary fixes—without human intervention—to limit the impact of the incident.
  • Detailed data analysis for continued learning: Modern automated incident response systems have robust data analytics to analyze incident data effectively. This way, you can better understand the nature of incidents, identify trends, and improve your organization’s overall security posture. Machine learning components can further enhance the automated system’s ability to adapt and respond to new threats.
  • Enhanced operational maturity: Automating incident response also elevates the overall operational maturity of IT teams. IT professionals are equipped to handle more incidents and ensure response consistency. This also gives them more time to focus on complex tasks requiring creative problem-solving.

Benefits of automated incident response

Challenges to automation in IT operations

When you set out to integrate automation into your IT operations, you’ll likely encounter several roadblocks. The lack of automation expertise on most IT operations teams is a significant one. Your IT team may be proficient in traditional IT operations, but automation requires different skills.

Another challenge is the complexity of monitoring and observability stacks. Often, these systems are layered and interwoven, making it difficult to identify where automation can be most effectively applied. With so many incident management tools available, the risk is automating multiple processes without a clear strategy, hoping one will magically solve all problems.

Data silos present another hurdle as information stored in isolated repositories prevents the unified visibility that is needed for effective automation. The quality of monitoring and data can also be a concern. Poor data quality or inadequate monitoring systems can lead to automation that is ineffective or, worse, harmful.

Overcoming the barriers to effective automation

To navigate these challenges, a strategic approach to automation is needed.

  1. Address the expertise gap: This can involve training your existing IT personnel in automation skills or hiring specialists. It can also mean leveraging the right automation tools that minimize the need for retraining altogether.
  2. Minimize monitoring system complexity: Streamline and integrate your tools. Choose platforms that can interact seamlessly and comprehensively view your operations. Some AIOps platforms excel in consolidating alerts and data from multiple monitoring systems.
  3. Break down data silos: Implement solutions that can aggregate data from various sources, ensuring a holistic approach to automation.
  4. Boost monitoring and data quality: Invest in robust systems and establish stringent data governance policies. Look for platforms with advanced algorithms and robust automation capabilities to enhance the quality of monitoring and data governance for accurate and reliable data.

An example of automated incident response using AIOps and automation

When a server goes down, AIOps can detect the issue either through a specific alert indicating the server’s status or by correlating multiple alerts that together suggest a service disruption. If the organization’s policy is to automatically restart the server in such cases, AIOps can trigger an automated response.

This is where automation tools come into play: they receive the incident information from an AIOps platform and can execute the restart process. The status of this automated remediation can then be updated in the AIOps platform, which can tag the incident to reflect the action taken.

The results of the remediation, whether successful or not, can then be recorded in the incident feed. This entire process is documented and monitored, typically displayed in dashboards that provide insights into the effectiveness and value of these automated operations.

This example is how automated incident response works with BigPanda AIOps and Red Hat® Ansible® Automation together.

Automate more of your incident response with BigPanda and Red Hat® Ansible®

BigPanda goes beyond incident detection and categorization, offering a suite of automation features that significantly reduce manual processes, improve collaboration, and streamline incident response workflows. This holistic approach enables IT teams to respond more quickly and effectively to critical incidents, ultimately enhancing the resilience and performance of their IT operations.

Enhance and expedite incident response processes using the BigPanda with Red Hat® Ansible® Automation Platform, which empowers ITOps teams to concentrate on critical tasks.

Through certified integrations and Content Collections designed for Red Hat® Ansible® Automation, combined with event-driven automation®, IT Operations are equipped with a secure, intuitive framework. This setup quickens and streamlines incident response and effectively reduces Mean Time to Resolution.

  1. Automatically resolve individual alerts and incidents
  2. Automatically update existing incident tag values based on remediation outcome
  3. Record and document automation outcomes from Red Hat® Ansible® in BigPanda

By leveraging automation, organizations can significantly reduce manual IT tasks, enhance operational efficiency, and introduce auto-remediation capabilities. Get a demo to learn more about BigPanda-powered ITOps automation.