Tuesday, May 21, 2024

IT Leaders Need New Solutions to Manage the Complexity of Hybrid Environments 

For IT departments across all industries, the future is hybrid.  

In recent years, high-performing organizations have embraced modern application stacks to speed up innovation in response to evolving customer and employee needs. But for all the buzz surrounding cloud native technologies, the reality is that the vast majority of organizations are still relying on traditional, on-premises technologies for a large part of their applications and they will continue to do so for years to come. 

In the latest research from Cisco AppDynamics, The Age of Application Observability, 92 percent of technologists state that hybrid environments are here to stay. And this means that IT teams are having to find ways to manage an ever more sprawling and fragmented IT landscape spread across cloud-native and on-premises technologies.

Unfortunately, this shift to hybrid environments presents significant challenges within the IT departments with technologists struggling to get to grips with spiraling levels of complexity. Most IT teams currently don’t have the right tools in place to manage dynamic and highly volatile hybrid environments. This means they can’t optimize application availability, performance, and security to deliver the seamless digital experiences that customers now demand at all times. 

IT leaders are therefore recognizing that traditional approaches are no longer fit for purpose and exploring application observability to ensure their technologists are able to effectively manage applications within a hybrid environment. 

Complexity in hybrid environments and the consequences of failing to deal with it 

The shift to hybrid environments brings with it massive complexity for IT teams. To start, it leads to an expansion of attack surfaces which can make organizations increasingly vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. With application components running across a mix of cloud-native platforms and on-premises databases, visibility gaps are quickly exposed, and the risk of a security event is heightened. 

Adoption of cloud-native technologies also means that technologists have to deal with an overwhelming volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) data which are constantly being spawned by microservices and containers.  

The worry is that IT teams simply don’t have the visibility they need to detect issues, understand root causes, to address them efficiently. Therefore, applications are more likely to suffer from disruption, downtime, and security breaches. With people’s expectations for seamless digital experiences higher than ever, the potential consequences of this are profound – customers turning their back on brands, tarnished reputations, and lost revenues.    

But the implications of increased complexity within hybrid environments are also being felt more personally within the IT department. Technologists are operating under unrelenting pressure, constantly firefighting to identify and resolve issues. Silos are emerging between IT teams and morale is being eroded. Indeed, 36 percent of technologists claim that silos and ineffective collaboration are already leading to technologists leaving their organization, and 46 percent believe that churn within their IT department will increase if silos persist.   

IT leaders need to act quickly to address these issues. They simply can’t afford any slip-ups when it comes to application performance and security; nor can they afford to be losing their best technologists because they haven’t got the right tools, structures, and culture in place to operate within a hybrid environment. 

Making the shift from traditional application monitoring to application observability to cut through complexity  

The starting point for any IT leader to tackle the complexity challenge must be to ensure that their teams have full visibility across their entire IT estate. In order to gain a comprehensive understanding of how their applications are performing, technologists need visibility across multiple layers. This includes visibility at the application level, as well as the supporting digital services (such as microservices or Kubernetes) and the underlying infrastructure-as-code (IaC) services obtained from their cloud providers. Only 21 percent of technologists report having achieved this level of visibility today. 

The problem is that most organizations are still deploying separate traditional application monitoring tools for on-premises and cloud-native technologies which means that IT teams don’t have a clear line of sight of the entire application path where components are running across cloud-native and on-premises environments. Many of these tools just can’t cope with the volatile nature of modern application stacks – in fact, 78 percent of technologists report that the increased volume of data from multi-cloud and hybrid environments is making manual monitoring impossible.  

This is why IT leaders are looking to progress from traditional application monitoring approaches to application observability, to provide their teams with unified visibility across both cloud native and on-premises environments. By implementing an application observability solution, IT teams can get real-time insights into IT availability and performance up and down the IT stack, from customer-facing applications right through to core infrastructure. They can also integrate security into the development lifecycle from day one, speeding up innovation and resulting in more robust applications. 

Crucially, application observability delivers a single source of truth for all IT teams, providing a platform for greater collaboration across the IT department and for technologists to come together around a shared vision and common goals. It allows technologists to get back on the front foot and take a more strategic approach to innovation. 

As complexity continues to soar within IT departments, there is now widespread recognition of the need to move from traditional monitoring to an application observability approach. Encouragingly, 53 percent of technologists report that their organization is already analyzing application observability solutions, and 44 percent report that they will do so in the next 12 months.   

Ultimately, where application observability links IT performance data with real-time business metrics, technologists can pinpoint and prioritize the issues that matter most. They can cut through complexity within their hybrid environments to deliver maximum impact for the business. 


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