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What's your Mean Time To Innocence – the time needed to prove that mess is not your problem

ServiceNow reckons it can shrink it with integrated cloudy observability

In a multicloud world in which IT teams are asked to manage their own infrastructure and apps as well as help out when lines of business buy and then break their own tech, ServiceNow thinks you might wish to consider shrinking Mean Time To Innocence (MTTI) – the amount of time it takes to prove that a problem isn't your fault.

Ben Sigelman, who came to ServiceNow in 2021 with acquisition of the observability startup he co-founded – LightStep – jokingly told The Register MTTI comes into play in sudden meetings called staged to triage outages.

"How long can you get off the conference bridge because it is not your fault" he asked.

Such calls are sadly prevalent in a multicloud world – because apps have become so complex it's hard to know how to address issues.

"The problem we see with customers is that there are teams responsible for managing Sev-0 and Sev-1 events at a corporate level, but those teams often have almost no visibility into the cloud estate."

The result is triage efforts that spend a lot of time figuring out what needs to be fixed – and who owns the problem code and/or infrastructure – before any effort to fix it can start.

Complicating matters further is that siloed apps have siloed observability tools.

"I think, for a lot of organizations, that data is going off to some vendor that was decided upon by a line of business application that was not integrated into central management," Sigelman opined. "That creates a lack of visibility which further hampers the instant response process."

ServiceNow's approach to improving that mess – and reducing MTTI for the innocent – is unsurprisingly … more ServiceNow.

At its Knowledge conference this week, ServiceNow announced that LightStep has morphed into ServiceNow Cloud Observability. That tool can ingest observability data from a great many sources, including devices and services that employ the Open Telemetry project Sigelman co-created. In true ServiceNow style it will then ingest that data and file it in a configuration management database (CMDB), making it possible to route work to the right people at the right time.

CMDBs are a common tool used when developing an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which is itself an input to an organization's IT service management (ITSM) plan.

ITSM is where ServiceNow cut its teeth, so in theory the integration of LightStep will make it easier for ServiceNow users to figure out what's wrong with an app, and for the people who own it to get the job of sorting it out in their to-do lists.

With that under control, the rest of an organization gets shorter MTTI. Then they only have to worry about MTTA, MTTR, and MTBF – respectively Mean Time To Acknowledge a problem, Mean Time To Respond, and Mean Time Between Failures.

And once the latter ticks over, it's time to measure MTTI again! ®

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