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    September 21, 2023

    Looking to Lead IT Modernization? 3 Lessons SREs Can Take from Trollhunters

    How do you spend a long weekend with your nine year old, while avoiding traffic jams and airport delays?

    For me, the answer was to spend quality time catching up on an animated superhero series Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia. I was able to have my child explain the series’ virtual world, one with super-complex concepts that make me feel like our real-world problems are so small.

    Trollhunters is a great series that shows not only the protagonist and his friends as a bunch of cool kids, but also as responsible individuals. I was struck by many things I found analogous to topics we frequently discuss involving AIOps and observability from Broadcom. Here are three analogies.

    1. Don’t think, become

    ESD_FY23_Academy-Blog.Looking to Lead IT Modernization - 3 Lessons SREs Can Take from Trollhunter.Figure 1

    Credit: Pinterest

    With the magical amulet in hand, the human trollhunter is shown thinking about the changes the amulet will bring. Once he decides to accept the amulet, he realizes that he must be well-equipped to be successful. He starts his training with Blinky, the guardian trollhunter, whom he is lucky to have as an ally. Over time, new team members with unique strengths join and, importantly, commit to the shared goal of working together to save the world. This team is a mix of humans, trollhunters, and eventually even some trolls as well. 

    ESD_FY23_Academy-Blog.Looking to Lead IT Modernization - 3 Lessons SREs Can Take from Trollhunter.Figure 2

    Credit: https://wall.alphacoders.com

    Their journey is similar to the journeys of our AIOps and observability customers as they pursue digital business transformation or develop new digital experiences for their customers. None have the crystal ball that alerts them to the challenges they will face. The important first step is to focus on desired outcomes and ensure these align well with enterprise-level business goals. Often, there are already existing tools and people focused on monitoring different aspects of applications, infrastructure, networks, and mainframes. Nevertheless, it becomes important to “organize” them in the way that will help teams to relate IT health with business outcomes. Organizing related monitored entities around business and IT services is an approach often embraced by teams employing the site reliability engineering (SRE) concept.

    2. Take care of your back, young Atlas

    The human trollhunter’s teacher often fondly addresses him as “Young Atlas,” associating his habit of “carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders” with the Greek hero’s role. Here is another analogy I could draw: DevOps, and sometimes IT monitoring teams, often shoulder their burdens alone. They typically work separately in domain or technology silos.

    This is where services and service observability can help. Service observability and its adoption is consistent with agile best practices. This approach can be expanded in phases as teams gain clarity and come together, focused on business outcomes to “deliver as one.” With service observability, teams create a dynamic organizer for monitoring end-to-end and across technologies. Armed with knowledge of topological relationships, they also quickly and naturally identify cross-domain impacts.

    Having a services orientation creates a framework for siloed teams to come together. In addition, the SRE can leverage DevOps and IT monitoring teams to reduce mean-time-to-triage and to automate the mundane, repetitive tasks associated with resolving common issues.

    ESD_FY23_Academy-Blog.Looking to Lead IT Modernization - 3 Lessons SREs Can Take from Trollhunter.Figure 3

    Credit: DevianArt

    3. Triumbric Stones make the amulet more powerful

    The trollhunter learns that the magical amulet will become more powerful if he finds and adds the Triumbric Stones to it. During his quest to search for the Triumbric Stones, he never stops fighting the trolls. His vision keeps him focused and aware of his progress. He starts with simple things, learns, corrects, and expands his knowledge, while acknowledging there are unknowns that he and his team have yet to encounter or address.

    This approach relates very well with the principles of adoption, especially for service observability. The key is to start simple: Establish your vision and steadfastly commit to business-aligned outcomes. It is also important to stay grounded with realistic expectations and then adapt over time with a phased approach. Embracing service observability and SRE is a mindset, one that grows as teams come together to deliver as one.

    In my next blog on service observability in DX Operational Intelligence, I will cover the foundational elements of service observability. I’ll look at how to get started and the value you can unlock for your organization. Stay tuned!

    Sheenam Gupta

    Sheenam Gupta, Product Manager for AIOps and Observability from Broadcom, works extensively with enterprise customers and prospects for solution success. Having joined Broadcom in 2016, Sheenam collaborates with customer-facing technical and business teams as well as Broadcom Solution Engineering, Development, Sales,...

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