AIOps: The technology to combat IT employee burnout

IT systems run around the clock, and sometimes, so do the employees who support these systems. After all, our digital world is incredibly sensitive to system failures and downtime. But how does this perpetual stress affect IT professionals?

A recent study found that 83 percent of software engineers experienced professional burnout. And, the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated the issue with 81 percent of software engineers reporting elevated fatigue due to growing pandemic-related workloads. Technology doesn’t have to be the root cause for this burnout, and in fact, tech can actually combat these issues. Let’s dive into what’s causing DevOps and site reliability engineering (SRE) teams to get burnt out in the first place and how solutions like AIOps can alleviate some of their stress.

The problem: a day in the life

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DevOps and SRE teams maintain an increasingly large and progressively dynamic and ephemeral infrastructure. And as companies continue their digital transformations, these already elaborate environments are becoming infinitely more interconnected, layered and complex. This complexity also makes these environments more fragile.

DevOps and SRE teams must seamlessly implement software updates in such production environments and provide the latest and greatest technologies while ensuring continuous availability. And the pressure is on to prevent outages and poor service performance. If digital incidents occur, companies face significant ramifications: plunging sales, customer distrust and tarnished reputations.

Operating in this fast-paced, high-stakes environment requires next-generation tools. For example, without a modern observability platform, DevOps and SRE teams must attempt to detect signs of an imminent outage and then manually comb through a deluge of data to diagnose the problem. It’s often too much information for the human mind to sort, let alone fix. And meanwhile, time is ticking, and eroding the precious error budget.

If teams have an observability solution that isn’t quite up to speed with AIOps, then the tool surfaces alerts, but it doesn’t tell teams how to resolve them. As a result, overloaded teams are slow to resolve incidents.

No wonder stress and burnout plague an overwhelming percentage of IT professionals. So, how do we as IT leaders address this issue? Is it possible to reduce the risk of burnout and increase productivity?  

Observability platforms that incorporate AIOps can help. These tools improve service assurance by automating digital incidents’ detection, diagnosis and remediation. But for DevOps practitioners and SRE teams, the benefits of intelligent observability solutions are more profound, resulting in less stress and more teamwork.

Reduce toil through automation

Using observability solutions with AIOps, DevOps and SRE teams can automate mundane tasks that can otherwise hijack their workdays. Instead of human operators sifting through large volumes of data, intelligent observability platforms constantly monitor operational data from applications, cloud services, networks and infrastructures. When the tool detects early warning signs of an incident in the metrics and event streams, it notifies the team, providing anomaly detection and event correlation and offering insights into what action will remedy the issue. As a result, SRE and DevOps teams can quickly respond, often fixing incidents before they trigger major system failures.

Automating the toil out of work, intelligent observability solutions free SRE and DevOps teams from high-volume, low-value work. And by streamlining processes and minimizing unplanned fire drills, teams are free to pursue innovative initiatives, like building better technologies that keep pace with competitors and enhance the customer experience. Collaborating on such long-term engineering projects or planning for strategic future endeavors can reignite an employee’s sense of fulfillment and help prevent professional burnout.

Create a collective "we" culture

Observability with AIOps gives DevOps practitioners and SRE teams the transparency they need to share ideas and put their heads together to solve big problems. By looking at the tool, anyone from the team can get a complete picture of the system and drill down on the more granular details. This raised visibility unlocks the capacity to collaborate across teams, systems and tools, which is critical considering efficient cross-team collaboration is the speediest way to fix complex multi-service incidents.

The benefit of transparent workflows goes beyond professional collaboration -- transparency can also transform office cultures. By destroying silos, monitoring tools reduce the pressure on individual employees and shut down toxic, go-it-alone egos. And, importantly, it allows team members to recharge by taking paid time off, which is more important to most employees than pay raises. When someone goes on vacation, a colleague can seamlessly pick up the slack. Another benefit: basing insights on data over opinions eliminates needless finger-pointing and helps cultivate a blameless, team-centric approach to work.

The pressure on DevOps practitioners and SRE teams for continuous digital innovation has never been greater, especially as customers around the globe look toward technology for connection, remote work, entertainment and everything in between. As you lean on your teams for bigger and better technologies, make sure you also free them from the stress and toil that hampers this ingenuity. And create a culture that values collaboration and enables innovation to reach new heights. By giving your teams the right tools, employees will be able to work on meaningful projects in a supportive environment, boosting morale, reigniting passions and decreasing burnout.

Image credit: Lightspring / Shutterstock

As Moogsoft's chief evangelist, Richard Whitehead brings a keen sense of what is required to build transformational solutions. A former CTO and technology VP, Richard brought new technologies to market and was responsible for strategy, partnerships and product research. Richard served on Splunk’s Technology Advisory Board through their Series A, providing product and market guidance. He served on the advisory boards of RedSeal and Meriton Networks, was a charter member of the TMF NGOSS architecture committee, chaired a DMTF Working Group, and recently co-chaired the ONUG Monitoring & Observability Working Group. Richard holds three patents and is considered dangerous with JavaScript.

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