Monday, May 20, 2024

Four Major Challenges for Technologists Managing Hybrid Environments – And How to Overcome Them 

Across all industries, IT departments have embraced no-code and low-code platforms to accelerate release velocity to meet the evolving needs of customers and employees. These modern application stacks offer speed, agility, and resilience, driving innovation forward. Despite the obvious benefits, managing hybrid environments is a challenge and the transition to cloud-native technologies won’t happen overnight, and in some cases, it won’t happen at all due to the unique data sensitivities. Ongoing economic challenges and rising costs are also causing many businesses to pause or slow down cloud migration. 

In the latest research from Cisco AppDynamics, The Age of Application Observability, 92 percent of technologists state that multi-cloud and hybrid environments are here to stay, and, on average, they predict that 63 percent of their applications will be running within hybrid environments in five years. This is why it’s essential for IT teams to ensure they have the right tools and insights to oversee and optimize application performance across hybrid environments.  

Here are four key challenges that technologists need to address to optimize application performance within their hybrid environments and deliver accelerated innovation on a sustainable basis: 

1.  Expansion of attack surfaces and cybersecurity vulnerabilities 

More than anything else, technologists emphasize that the most significant challenge in handling multi-cloud and hybrid environments is the expansion of attack surfaces, affecting 89 percent of organizations. The presence of application components running across various cloud-native platforms and on-premises databases reveals visibility gaps, leading to an increased risk of security incidents.  

To address this challenge effectively, IT teams should consider adopting a DevSecOps approach, where application security and compliance testing are incorporated into the software development lifecycle from day one. 

The shift to DevSecOps requires new tools and relies heavily on automation to identify and mitigate security concerns during runtime, embedding Artificial Intelligence (AI) into application security processes. Equally crucial is the required cultural shift to built-in security, where ITOps and security teams operate side-by-side, supporting, understanding, and appreciating the other’s contribution. 

DevSecOps makes security a shared responsibility and forces developers to identify and prioritize security issues at every step. It results in more secure products and better security management before, during and after release.      

2.  Addressing visibility gaps for optimal application performance  

With the rapid adoption of cloud-native technologies, technologists are having to manage microservices and containers that spawn a massive volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) data every second.  

78 percent of technologists report that this increased volume of data is making manual monitoring impossible. Traditional application monitoring tools can’t handle this level of data noise, meaning technologists can’t detect issues and pinpoint root causes in a timely manner. Most organizations are still using separate monitoring tools for cloud native and on-premises technologies which means that IT teams don’t have a clear line of sight to the entire application path. This makes effective troubleshooting extremely difficult, impacting metrics such as Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR). 

Ultimately, organizations are facing far greater risks of disruption and downtime to their applications, something that customers and employees simply will not tolerate.

By implementing an application observability solution that has the flexibility to span across both cloud native and on-premises technologies, technologists can get unified visibility across their hybrid environments. IT teams can access real-time insights into application availability and performance, enabling them to swiftly resolve issues.  

3. Aligning cloud costs with business performance 

81 percent of technologists state that they’re coming under increased pressure to validate the impact of their cloud investments, while 84 percent admit that they struggle to align cloud costs with business performance within their hybrid environments. As the economic slowdown continues through 2024, this is an issue that IT leaders need to address quickly in order to maintain their digital transformation budgets.  

That is why it’s essential for IT departments to deploy an application observability solution that correlates IT data with real-time business transactions so that they can track, measure, and report on the value that their investments are delivering to customers and the business.  

4. Relentless pressure, firefighting and silos in the IT department 

IT departments have introduced new teams, such as Site Reliability Engineers (SREs), DevOps, and CloudOps, to drive the adoption of cloud-native technologies. However, in many cases, these teams have not been seamlessly integrated with existing teams managing legacy, on-premises applications. Consequently, 80 percent of technologists report an increase in silos between IT teams when managing multi-cloud and hybrid environments.  

At the same time, all technologists are operating under intense pressure, stuck in firefighting mode, grappling with overwhelming data. They face the constant worry that an issue might go undetected and result in poor application performance or a security breach.  

Research reveals the impact this is having within IT departments, with 36 percent of technologists reporting that silos and increased pressure have driven some technologists to leave their organizations. Moreover, 46 percent predict that churn within their IT department will increase if silos persist.   

By shifting from monitoring to application observability, organizations can break down silos between people, processes and data within the IT department. Application observability provides all IT teams with a single source of truth for availability, performance and security data, with unified visibility across cloud-native and on-premises applications. It means that teams can be brought together around a shared vision and organizational goals. 

Application observability empowers technologists to adopt a more controlled, proactive approach to managing IT performance and enhancing digital experiences. In fact, 88 percent believe that it will enable them to be more strategic and spend more time on innovation. 

The shift from traditional application monitoring to application observability is now a strategic priority for most organizations, as technologists urgently look for ways to manage an increasingly complex and fragmented IT estate. The challenge now is for IT leaders to develop and execute the right strategies to manage this transition, equipping their technologists with the tools, culture and processes they need to thrive in a hybrid environment for many years to come. 


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Joe Byrne
Joe Byrne
Joe Byrne is Executive CTO Advisor at Cisco AppDynamics.