The face of success: key takeaways from BigPanda’s “IT Ops Ready” virtual summit

Over 700 professionals from some of the most prominent enterprises in the retail, financial, technology, pharma and manufacturing industries attended our two-day “IT Ops Ready” virtual conference

They viewed:

    • Two stellar opening keynote sessions featuring Mike Rowe and Hulu
    • Six breakout sessions over two days with NTT Data and AWS, Fanatics, Wiley, Jackson Healthcare and Insight Partners, Waste Management and WEC, Ulta Beauty and BlackRock3. 
    • A closing keynote session with Genworth and Rent-A-Center, followed by 
    • An inspiring fireside chat with Jocko Willink

Our 18 guest speakers, all experienced IT operations leaders in their respective domains and companies, shared their experiences and insights into the transformation of their businesses and the challenges they are facing in these complex times, and how BigPanda partners with them to help them succeed.

Here are selected highlights from these sessions.


Hulu: Scaling for growth.

In this session Aaron Johnson, Senior NOC Manager at Hulu, discussed how Hulu keeps their services available and performant as they gain new subscribers at a pace beyond their wildest projections.

Aaron shared his personal story, the challenges he faced in building an operations team from scratch and the thoughts behind the tools and processes the team put into place. Hulu has a unique organizational structure  – which includes the NOC, the resilience advocacy team which deals with change and problem management, and the operational reliability engineering team which is in essence an SRE “development branch”.  When Aaron explained how these teams work together, the conversation expanded to discuss the tools they use, and Aaron provided insights into how they chose them: 

“In the past, we weren’t  flexible enough to be resilient to a tool change… so the first thing we were looking for was tool agnosticism. The second thing was usability by different types of people with different types of technical acumen… and third – the ability to capture data trends, so that we know the tool is actually helping us…We eventually decided to go with a solution that has all these features and is a leader in the industry. We decided to roll with BigPanda” 

As the discussion focused on BigPanda, Aaron explained that one of the platform’s biggest appeals was its ease of use, or in his words: “how much of it I could do personally on my own without needing to leverage a bunch of different development resources from other teams”. Summarizing the decision made by Hulu – Aaron stated that:

 “You’re not the only guys in the space, but you’re definitely the ones that we needed”.

Aaron also discussed BigPanda’s custom tagging abilities that allow data normalization, the analytics capabilities which allow KPI tracking and more. 

For these insights and many more – we invite you to watch the complete session or experience the whole summit on demand.


NTT Data and AWS:  Putting agility to the test

In this session, Karthik Ranganathan, Chief Enterprise Architect at NTT Data, and Aditya Muppavarapu, Global Segment Leader of DevOps from AWS, shared the common themes they are seeing in organizations who are scaling these days at an unthinkable pace, specifically regarding AI and automation that support business agility and speedy transformations. 

The session began with Kathrik and Aditya discussing cloud migration and modernization – how they see their customer journeys and what they do to assist them. It was very interesting to hear their unique perspectives – having accompanied so many enterprises in their transformations: how long these journeys usually took, how companies coped with the hybrid mode they created as they moved more and more of their infrastructure to the cloud, how teams were handling the transformation on a personal and professional level, and what tools they were using to help the process. 

This led to one of the focuses of the session:  adopting AI and ML to assist the transformation, both technically and from a business value angle. Karthik then went on to describe how they found working with BigPanda beneficial for their customers’ AIOps journeys, relying on BigPanda’s rapid time to value: 

“A couple of years back we had clients that were early adopters of AI and ML… they usually invested 1-2 million dollars into a six-month proof of concept that didn’t result in immediate value. These days, the way we’re approaching AIOps in our partnership with BigPanda, is based on identifying business value in 12-week time blocks. That way we can identify opportunities per quarter, and based on success – create a business case that matches investment in the following quarter, and so on. What our IT executives now have is quick validation that allows them to say  ‘Yep, this makes sense. I want to be able to move forward’“

The discussion then continued on to automation and its important role in their customers’ journeys, then to implementing DevOps/SRE operation models and more. For these and more unique business insights – watch the complete session or experience the whole summit on demand.


Fanatics: Supporting growth with compassion

Sarah Stephens, Director of Site Reliability Engineering, and Caitlin Norgard, Senior Director of Technology and Process, sat down with us to discuss how the combined engineering and tiered production support groups in Fanatics work together to streamline incident management and automate workflows, providing the business teams confidence to move fast.

Sarah and Caitlin discussed the rapid growth the company has seen in the past months, despite the fact that sporting events were few and far between. Recently, the company raised $350 million and signed long-term ecommerce and merchandising deals with major sports properties around the globe. As COVID hit, Fanatics HR rolled out wellness programs globally, the manufacturing teams quickly started producing face coverings for sale on Fan Shop by Fanatics, and the facilities teams reconfigured warehouses so that employees could continue working in a safe environment. By mid-April, Fanatics launched the ALL IN Challenge, the world’s largest digital fundraiser, whose proceeds went to feed those in need. Among the many other commercial activities, Fanatics also signed up to offer a  “Buy Now, Pay Later”  point-of-sale payment service.

Throughout all these activities, Sarah and Caitlin’s teams worked hard to make sure everything kept working smoothly. Sarah’s SRE team is responsible in Fanatics  for event management, and BigPanda plays an important role in the process, as Sarah explains: 

“We make sure that all of our monitors and alerts for our business-critical systems are in place and feeding back into our event management system, which is BigPanda. We work with Splunk, New Relic, Akamai and many more monitoring and observability tools, and we really wanted to bring all of those events into one place, to combine the information, with the ultimate goal of being able to understand the big picture.”

By using BigPanda as a single pane of glass, Fanatics can see when the alerts started, in what order they appeared, exactly where they were taking place (application, infrastructure, network, database) and much more. This combined information allows them to determine the root cause quickly and easily. Fanatics also uses BigPanda metrics to detect hotspots and fine-tune their alert thresholds. 

Sarah also complimented BigPanda’s Root Cause Changes feature:  

“Now, when we get a set of alerts, they also detail their related changes, for example what changes were recently logged in ServiceNow. So we can immediately determine if a change is the cause of the alerts. We really love that feature, it’s been really helpful”.

Sarah goes on to talk about how Fanatics integrates business logic into their processes using BigPanda, and many more unique insights which you can learn about in the complete session from the summit.


A lot more goodness 

Each and every session in the summit was filled with unique customer experiences that provided valuable observations and information.

Want to hear how Wiley uses BigPanda Open Box Machine Learning for alert correlation?  

Or how Waste Management utilizes BigPanda normalization and enrichment as a basis for their incident management automation? 

Maybe learn how Ulta Beauty correlates alerts and automates team notifications with BigPanda? 

All these and many, many more insights can be found in the summit sessions recordings on demand.