Features, Insight, Opinion

What the shift to cloud-native technologies means for digital transformation strategies

By: Gregg Ostrowski, Executive CTO, Cisco AppDynamics

There is widespread consensus in the IT industry across the region, that we’re entering into an exciting new era of innovation. Technologists are beginning to turn their attention from constant fire-fighting — as required during the pandemic — to a more proactive and strategic approach to innovation.

This is supported by findings from the latest Cisco AppDynamics, ‘Agents of Transformation 2022’ report, that explores the changing role of technologists across a wide range of industries, as countries like the UAE move on from the worst of the pandemic and organisations move forward into what is still a hugely turbulent and unpredictable marketplace. It identifies the key tools, skills and support that technologists will need to thrive in the future, and to deliver on their organisations’ digital transformation objectives.

According to the research, quite interestingly, 25% of all businesses have already switched back to a strategic approach to digital transformation, and more than half are now in the process of making this shift.

Organisations across all sectors are recognising that, in order to meet constantly evolving customer and employee needs, they must find ways to embed the required speed and scale of innovation into their everyday operations. Technologists are starting to take a longer-term view on digital transformation and are looking to implement new technologies, platforms and processes which will help them to deliver rapid digital transformation on a sustainable basis.

Reimagining applications with cloud-native technologies

As several organisations continue to offer remote and hybrid working options, global technologists agree that there is a need for organisations to reimagine applications over the next 12 months to meet the changing needs of customers and employees.

And for most part, these digital transformation initiatives will require an accelerated shift towards modern application stacks, based on cloud-native technologies, which can provide the speed and scalability of innovation that is now required to compete. Indeed, Gartner predicts that cloud-native platforms will serve as the foundation for more than 95% of new digital initiatives by 2025.

However, while the shift to cloud-native technologies offers businesses huge potential benefits, technologists are understandably concerned about incorporating these new technologies into what is already a fragmented and increasingly complex IT environment. Many IT teams are already struggling to manage IT availability and performance across a hybrid IT estate, without the full and unified visibility they need to identify issues quickly and fix problems before they impact end users. Technologists are being inundated by performance data from every corner of the IT estate — 66% admit they feel overwhelmed by data noise — and they can’t cut through the noise to make informed decisions.

Now the situation could become a lot worse. Cloud-native technologies are built on highly distributed systems which rely on thousands of containers and produce a huge volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) telemetry every second. Most IT teams don’t have the tools to cut through this crippling data noise when troubleshooting application availability and performance problems caused by infrastructure-related issues that span across hybrid cloud environments.

Digital transformation success requires cloud-native observability

Against this backdrop, it is essential for technologists to implement a cloud-native observability solution, to simplify the complexity of cloud-native application architectures and provide visibility into highly dynamic and complex cloud-native applications, landscapes and architectures. If technologists are to truly understand how their application is performing, they need visibility across the application level, into the supporting digital services (such as microservices or Kubernetes) and into the underlying infrastructure-as-code (IaC) services (such as compute, server, database and network) they leverage from their cloud providers.

Evidently then, as organisations look to reimagine their applications and accelerate their digital transformation plans, they need to ensure that they are providing their IT teams with the tools that they need to manage availability and performance, in a sustainable way, and deliver the world-class digital experiences that end users now expect at all times.

This will mean investment in a number of areas, from application security and application availability and performance, through to building a resilient and agile IT infrastructure and linking IT performance to business outcomes.

Encouragingly, technologists are acutely aware of the critical need to implement observability solutions for cloud-native applications and infrastructure in order to future-proof their organisations’ digital transformation plans. The research finds as many as 85% of technologists stating that full-stack observability is now core to sustainable transformation and innovation in their organisation.

These are extremely exciting times for technologists as they finally move beyond the firefighting and relentless pressure of the last two years and think about the incredible possibilities that lie ahead. However, a word of caution — before IT teams rush head-long into new innovation initiatives, and in particular wholesale adoption of cloud-native technologies, they should ensure they have the tools they will need over the coming years as the next era of innovation gathers pace. This will avoid serious problems down the line and enable them to deliver maximum impact for their organisations.

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