The journey to observability delivers benefits for the entire the IT department

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The journey to observability delivers benefits for the entire the IT department

Across all industries, IT departments are moving from traditional application monitoring approaches towards full-stack observability. Rapid adoption of cloud native technologies has led to spiraling complexity and exposed the limitations of the Application Performance Management (APM) tools being deployed by IT teams.

This is why, according to Cisco research, observability is now a strategic priority for 85% of organizations around the world. Observability provides IT teams with full and unified visibility across all domains - whether on-premises or in the cloud - enabling them to identify, understand and resolve performance and security issues in a timely way.

However, it’s important for IT leaders to recognize that the move from traditional monitoring to observability isn’t an overnight process. It’s a journey that will often take two to three years for large enterprises and requires a considered, incremental approach. It’s about a lot more than simply implementing a new technology solution; the bigger challenge is driving the cultural and structural change that is essential for organizations to maximize the benefits of observability.

When building out their observability strategies, IT leaders must not overlook the importance of winning over hearts and minds across the IT department. They need to overcome resistance to change and demonstrate to all technologists (whether they’re developers, operations or security professionals, and whether they’re specialists in cloud native or on-premises environments) how full-stack observability will deliver benefits for them in their everyday work. And how each new capability will alleviate pressure, reduce firefighting and enable IT teams to focus on more fulfilling and high value work.

The observability imperative

IT leaders are recognizing the need to implement full-stack observability as the only way to manage an increasingly sprawling and volatile hybrid IT estate. They know that they can’t afford any slip ups when it comes to digital experience, not when consumers now have zero tolerance for brands whose applications fail to meet their expectations.

Traditional APM tools are very much domain-specific and the problem is that these siloed tools don’t provide technologists with a complete picture of the application and its underlying infrastructure. When an issue arises, IT teams struggle to pinpoint the root cause and understand dependencies where components are running across cloud native and on-premises environments. As a result, metrics such as Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR) are going in the wrong direction, and the chances of organizations suffering a revenue and reputation-impacting incident are growing significantly.

Full-stack observability enables IT teams to cut through the complexity of their hybrid environments and provides the visibility and insights technologists need to ensure that applications and supporting infrastructure are operating at peak performance at all times.

But while the need for new solutions and approaches to manage IT performance is evident, the fact remains that no technologist ever likes to be told which tools they should and shouldn’t be using. Many feel that their current APM tools still serve the specific needs of their domain team and enable them to hit their KPIs.

This is why it’s vital for IT leaders to choose an extensible observability platform which embraces open standards, so that IT teams can continue to use their preferred tools. An open platform can bring in and correlate signals from any tool, and this makes it a much easier ‘sell’ for CIOs looking to introduce observability across the IT department. They can gradually add new capabilities to their observability platform based on the most pressing business needs and, with each step, prove the value that is being delivered.

Showcasing the benefits of observability to every IT team

While every organization will take a different path to achieve full-stack observability, there are some major milestones that they will all navigate along the way. And these will bring some pretty game-changing benefits. The job of IT leaders is to effectively communicate these benefits to the relevant teams to secure buy-in and support. Here are three examples:

  1. Expanding visibility across domains

By adding infrastructure visibility (such as Kubernetes and hosted environments) and network visibility, IT teams can look beyond the application layer and monitor the different domains that support the application. This allows them to quickly identify the domain specific area where a problem is occurring, bridge visibility gaps where application components are running across hybrid environments and, ultimately, to reduce Mean-Time-To-Resolution (MTTR).

For technologists working in DevOps, NetOps or InfraOps, domain visibility brings huge benefits. It puts an end to the constant firefighting - trying to understand the root cause of issues - and allows them to adopt a more proactive and strategic approach to their work.

  1. Building security into observability

By adding security monitoring into their observability capabilities, organizations can ensure complete protection for applications, from development through to production, across code, containers and Kubernetes. This is becoming mission-critical for organizations in many sectors who are having to manage ever more sophisticated threats.

Crucially, integrating security breaks down long-established silos and enables much greater collaboration between security and application teams, facilitating the shift to DevSecOps methodologies. This new approach allows developers to embed robust security into every line of code, resulting in more secure applications and easier security management, before, during and after release.

  1. Generating a customer perspective on digital experience

By implementing digital experience monitoring (DEM), organizations can analyze application performance through a customer lens, understanding and optimizing the experience that end users are encountering when interacting with applications and digital services. Functionality such as Session Replay enables operations teams to visualize how customers are behaving and interacting with their applications, and this insight is hugely valuable given the extent to which consumers are now demanding world-class digital experiences at all times.

Other milestones on the journey to observability include integrating cost insights, enabling CloudOps teams to analyze and optimize the costs of their cloud workloads, and automated rightsizing of cloud workloads to drive efficiency and digital experience.

It’s also essential for IT leaders to add business context into their observability strategy in order to correlate IT data with real-time business metrics. This ensures that every IT team can identify the most important issues, based on potential impact to customers and the business, and prioritize their resources in these areas.

Ultimately, observability provides a single source of trusted data for all IT teams, establishing a platform for more collaborative and productive ways of working across the IT department. As well as ensuring that organizations can deliver seamless and secure digital experiences, observability also provides a platform for technologists to transform their careers. They can embrace new ways of working, learn new skills and forge new partnerships across the IT department, setting them up to thrive in a hybrid future.