A lesson from the mango farm: Get under the skin of problems early! By Jothi Nagarajan

The Infra Innovation Circle was released in December 2015, if you haven’t read it yet I encourage you to take a look.

Over the last few week’s I have been spotlighting some of the feature articles. Here is the one from our Expert Jothi Nagarajan that talks about the lessons on the ‘Internet of Things’.

The right amount of water, the optimum soil conditions, the perfect skin thickness. There are many variables when cultivating the perfect mango. Especially when you’ve got a whole farm to manage with over 20 varieties being grown. This may seem like a strange analogy for managing your data center, but not for Jothi Nagarajan.

From his home in Bangalore, Jothi manages the health of his mango farm – located in a village over 250km away. To help the farm’s novice caretaker yield the best crop, Jothi has installed prototype automations that allow him to monitor the mango trees online. He can see which trees need watering and automatically pump in the right amount of water, based on real-time analysis of humidity levels (and other parameters) measured by sensors in the trees. And he knows exactly when his mangos are ready for picking, because he can view them up-close and check their ripeness – from the comfort of his sofa – via a swarm of robotic bees!

A simple principle of prevention 

This use of intelligent analytics, the Internet of Things, data pattern matching, and next-generation robotics is helping the mango farm to thrive. Jothi is applying a fairly simple principle: understand the root cause of future problems and address them as early as you can, in the most effective way possible. Why walk around the entire farm checking each individual tree, when your personal robotic bee can do the hard work?

In fact, he’s been applying this principle of using technology to make things easier throughout his professional life – because Jothi is not just a mango farmer. He’s worked in IT Infrastructure Management Services for over two decades.

Career highlights include the creation of a Service Automation Platform for a successful start-up company, which delivered 30–40% efficiencies by automating routine tasks and processes. He’s also created a ‘finishing school’ that provides aspiring IT professionals with the equivalent of four years of knowledge in just four months of training! This uses automated production simulations of different IT service environments, and allows professionals to test themselves in over 100,000 exercises. You can see a trend here: using innovations in technology to simplify, streamline, educate, and accelerate human endeavors.

Proactive insight to liberate staff

Today, as Vice President of IGO-Data Services at Capgemini, Jothi is putting those principles at the heart of his engagements with corporate clients – helping them to address data center problems proactively.

Just like the health of a mango crop, there are many variable factors that impact the performance of enterprise IT. Imagine if those variables could be managed in a similar way to the farm, with proactive insight that allows skilled personnel more time to focus on value-add tasks.

Think about one of the main causes of inefficiency in the data center: staff battling to respond to IT failures (many of which happen again and again) and breaches in SLAs. They are often busy keeping systems up and running and fixing incidents, when they could be exploring new opportunities for the business. Or, to put it another way, they could be preparing the ground for a new plantation instead of tending to parched soil and over-ripened fruit.

Problems are more than skin deep

Jothi believes that Proactive Problem Management is needed to get under the skin of these repeated incidents. He is helping clients go beyond data analytics to get to the actual root cause of their problems. This will allow data center managers to permanently reduce errors and failures, and release their teams to focus on more valuable projects. This is achieved via a unique algorithm developed for each client (based on analysis of their IT and Enterprise Service Management frameworks) that enables preventative workflows to be integrated into their infrastructure.

Of course, this is not a fully automated process. It requires the right mix of people, processes, and technology to make it happen – just as Jothi’s mango farm needs skilled farmers, pioneering technologists, and a connected infrastructure.

But who knows where the future will take us? Perhaps Jothi’s mango trees will become even more advanced, with the ability to proactively detect and fight fungal infections. Perhaps the next phase of Proactive Problem Management will bring us IT systems that heal themselves.

Jothi Nagarajan is Vice President of IGO-Data Services at Capgemini, based in Bangalore, India. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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