Saturday, April 13, 2024

How full-stack observability with business context can reduce IT complexity


When the global pandemic took hold, companies had no choice but to pivot to remote work and digital-first business models to withstand the impact of COVID-19. Now, one year later, we’re seeing the unintended consequences of rapid digital transformation and focus on business continuity – the pressure on technologists has reached a boiling point even though the business has become so dependent on them.


After a constant battle to guide businesses through the initial shock of the pandemic, technologists are now expected to push their performance even further. Organizations are leaning on their proven expertise to guide them through the remainder of the pandemic and beyond. Implementing digital transformation projects faster than in any previous year was a burden and they now face the seemingly impossible task of leading innovation programs at even greater speeds over the next 12 months. 


As you might have guessed, failure to deliver on these goals is not an option and continuously accelerating digital transformation is taking a toll on technologists. As a result, many technologists are now experiencing crippling complexity across their infrastructure and the urgency to constantly innovate has led to an abundance of duplicative technology across on-premises and cloud architectures. 


This rise in IT complexity has significantly increased the amount of data created across the technology stack, from the application, through the infrastructure to the network and security. According to new research from AppDynamics, 85% of technologists state that cutting through noise caused by increasing volumes of data to identify performance issues will be a significant challenge in the year ahead. With 75% of those polled stating they are already struggling to manage overwhelming ‘data noise,’ technologists are eager to find a unified solution to enable real-time visibility across the entire IT estate.


The solution begins with full-stack observability


Technologists recognize the need to monitor the full technology estate, from legacy systems to new, hybrid cloud environments. Not having the luxury of retiring older technology, but forced in a position to have the new technology work seamlessly with the old causes challenges. These range from interoperability to staffing a team of engineers who understand the full spectrum from legacy systems to newer cloud technologies. This emphasizes the concept of full-stack observability – the ability to monitor the entire technology stack, from customer-facing applications down to core network and infrastructure. And it’s vital for technologists wanting to identify and fix performance issues before they adversely affect customers and the business. On its own, full-stack observability isn’t enough to tackle the complexities technology departments face.


Technologists need to quickly navigate through the flood of data to pinpoint the most critical information and contextualize performance insights with real-time business data. They need to observe what matters most by quickly understanding how it impacts the business. This will help them prioritize actions, innovations and investments based on the direct impact to customers and the business. Most importantly this earns the confidence of business leaders, which helps them realize that their technology teams are partners and not just support. 


The final puzzle piece: aligning IT with business performance


As a result of operating in our new digital world, a technology decision is now a business decision for every organization. This means business operations are now dependent on technology. For technologists, that means the ability to monitor the full technology stack is simply not enough on its own. They now recognize they need to observe what truly matters by applying a business lens to full-stack observability. Through this business lens, technologists need to see, understand and optimize what happens inside their architecture and beyond it.


This includes monitoring across infrastructure, network, security and the technology they don’t directly control, such as the public internet and cloud. They also need business context on every data point and decision so they can organize issues, alerts and incidents by what impacts the business and user experience most.


Here is where the magic happens, by being able to directly show the impact to the business and sharing performance details in terminology relevant to business leaders, a tight interlock can happen. You can almost think of this as full stack “collaboration.” For technology teams struggling with business cases for investing in the right tools and technology, partnering with business leaders so they see the direct impact helps lead to positive results fast.  


Implementation needs to happen now


Throughout the past year, technologists have demonstrated incredible levels of skill, commitment and resilience in response to the pandemic. They’ve worked longer and harder than ever before, operating under extreme pressure to implement digital transformation programs. Now, they’re being asked to drive innovation initiatives at a speed and scale never seen before.


It’s clear that the stakes have never been higher for technologists and their organizations to get the necessary support in place. By tying technology issues to tangible business outcomes, such as sales transactions and customer experience, technologists take action on what’s most important to the business. This is an important time for them, as they have a crucial role to play in our global economic recovery. But only full-stack observability with business context can help technologists control heightened levels of complexity, and ultimately enable them to succeed in their defining time.



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Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski is executive CTO at AppDynamics.