Features, Insight, Opinion

The five must-haves of an effective application observability solution

By: Gregg Ostrowski, CTO Advisor, Cisco AppDynamics

Faced with soaring levels of complexity that comes with hybrid and multi-cloud deployments, IT teams across the region are realising they need to move beyond traditional application monitoring approaches to manage and optimise these increasingly fragmented and volatile environments.

Against this backdrop, application observability is now being seen as a strategic priority for organisations in all industries. In fact, according to recent research from Cisco AppDynamics, The Age of Application Observability, 64% of surveyed UAE technologists claim that their organisation is already analysing application observability solutions, and 35% report that they will do so in the next 12 months.

With pressure mounting on technologists to accelerate innovation and always deliver flawless digital experiences, it is essential IT teams are able to identify the right application observability solution, one that can meet current and future requirements.

Interestingly, 92% of technologists across the Emirates report their organisation’s expectations around application observability solutions are increasing. Businesses are looking at application observability to address some of their biggest strategic challenges, from embedding innovation into their everyday operations, through to breaking down the organisational silos that exist between people, processes and data.

IT teams have firm ideas about what application observability should deliver and they identify five critical characteristics they’re prioritising when choosing a solution for their organisation:

The ability to integrate application performance and security monitoring

92% of UAE technologists report that the shift to hybrid environments is leading to an expansion of attack surfaces and heightened vulnerability to cybersecurity threats. With application components running across a mix of cloud native platforms and on-premises systems, visibility gaps are being exposed and the risk of a security event is rising.

As such, application observability solutions need to integrate application availability and performance with security monitoring so that IT teams can understand how vulnerabilities and incidents could impact end users and the business. Business transaction insights enable IT teams to measure the importance of threats based on severity scoring, factoring in the context of the threat. This means that they can prioritise threats that could damage a business-critical area of the environment or application. Technologists can cut through the data noise caused by high volumes of security alerts and focus on the things that really matter.

Technology teams want an application observability solution that leverages automation and AI to automatically detect and resolve issues across the application landscape. AI should be deployed for continuous detection and prioritisation, so that security exploits are identified and blocked automatically, without human intervention, maximizing speed and uptime while minimizing risk.

Opportunity to justify investments in cloud native technologies

IT teams are coming under tremendous pressure to validate the impact of investments in cloud technologies and digital transformation, yet 89% of technologists across the Emirates admit that they struggle to align cloud costs with business performance.

It is precisely for this reason that technologists want an application observability solution which correlates IT data with business metrics. This enables IT leaders to generate business transaction insights in real-time, and then to view them in business-level dashboards. They can measure and demonstrate the value that their innovation programs are generating.

An effective application observability solution should allow IT teams to make insight-driven decisions around investment. Indeed, 93% of surveyed UAE technologists claim that application observability with business context will enable them to be more strategic and spend more time on innovation.

Ability to reduce complexity in managing multi-cloud and hybrid environments

86% of UAE technologists cite increased complexity with microservices and containers and 78% cite more silos as challenges associated with managing hybrid and multi-cloud environments. IT teams are being bombarded with overwhelming volumes of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) data from microservices and containers.

This makes it essential that application observability solutions are able to simplify complexity, cutting through data noise to provide all IT teams with key insights on application availability, performance and security. Technologists need a solution which offers complete visibility across the application landscape to easily understand how applications and digital services are performing in real time.

Provide one source of truth for all availability, performance and security data

Since the majority of IT departments still deploy separate tools to monitor cloud native and on-premises technologies, technologists don’t have a complete line of sight up and down the application path where components are running across a hybrid environment. Teams are working with their own data, reinforcing siloed working practices and cultures.

IT teams are therefore looking for an application observability solution which provides a single source of truth for all availability, performance, and security data. Application observability should provide a platform for much closer collaboration between developers, operations, and security teams, paving the way for a DevSecOps approach in the IT department. Technologists want application observability to unite all IT teams around a common purpose and shared vision.

Leverages OpenTelemetry

Given the marked shift towards modern application stacks, OpenTelemetry is essential for IT teams to manage and optimise availability and performance within dynamic cloud native environments.

For this reason technologists point to the need for an application observability solution which can ingest the massive volumes of data they get from OpenTelemetry and combine it with data from other data points that they derive through agents and data coming in from public cloud environments, such as Kubernetes.

Specifically, technologists want a unified application observability solution which can extract business transactions from OpenTelemetry data. This allows IT teams to generate business context throughout the overarching application flow to drive seamless digital experiences at all times.

Given that application observability is now a strategic priority for 91% of organisations in the UAE, IT leaders will be looking to develop a holistic and future-proof strategy for their organisation. This means finding a solution which provides flexibility to span across both cloud native and on-premises technologies, to provide IT teams with the real-time insights they need to manage and optimise application performance across hybrid environments.

The bottom line is that organisations need an application observability solution which meets the current and future needs of all technologists, enabling them to accelerate innovation and deliver seamless and engaging digital experiences to both the organisation and external customers.

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