Expert Speak

Breaking Down the Barriers to Full Stack Observability

Written by David Noël, GVP, EMEAR at AppDynamics

Technologists in the UAE have spent more than a year digitally transforming their enterprises in response to the pandemic. While many can point to great successes during this period, they have also introduced complexities to their IT stack that, if left unchecked, have the potential to destabilize innovation and competitiveness.

In AppDynamics’ Agents of Transformation 2021: The Rise of Full-Stack Observability report, 79% of UAE respondents said pandemic-related digital transformation had created more complexity in the technology stack than they had ever seen in their organization. Without visibility of the tapestry of legacy and cloud technologies they now oversee, IT teams will be ill-equipped to keep customers happy and deliver flawless digital experiences.

Right now, the UAE’s technologists are using a series of monitoring tools, each of which may do a specific job well but fail to integrate with others, leading to an incomplete picture of the enterprise. The levels of complexity across an enterprise IT estate are too great for this approach to continue. 73% of UAE technology professionals told Agents of Transformation researchers that they can no longer afford to rely on their gut when it comes to technology performance; they need accurate, real-time data delivered in a single view.

Connecting performance with business metrics
Impactful action that brings positive business outcomes can only come from being able to efficiently locate the source of a performance issue. But two-thirds of the country’s technologists do not have the training or tools to comprehensively measure the business impact of their decisions.

So how can organizations make the transition from the tools they have now to the ideal, 360-degree view of their ecosystem that will allow IT stakeholders to deliver innovation across the business? For this to be possible, IT teams must be equipped with a platform that can connect enterprise-wide performance data with real-time business metrics. From this position, admins can sift out the most important issues and prioritize them, thus maintaining optimal experiences for customers.

The right observability platform will dial out the white noise and allow IT teams to observe what matters most and respond to the most urgent issues as they occur. That is why 97% of technologists in the UAE say having visibility across the whole IT estate is important. And 99% agree that having the ability to monitor each technical element in their infrastructure and link its performance to business outcomes will be critical during 2021.

No competitiveness without observability
These sentiments repeat across industries. And yet, despite 76% of UAE technologists believing that their organization needs to connect full-stack observability to business outcomes within the next year to remain competitive, 97% of them are experiencing barriers to the adoption of a viable observability solution.

The challenges these IT professionals face range from integration issues, to problems with implementation and scalability. They also find it difficult to convince line-of-business executives to advocate for such tools. Non-technical staff will often fail to connect technical issues with negative business outcomes or will not appreciate how available solutions can fix the problem in a way that yields an acceptable return on investment. Many of these challenges are exacerbated by the daily grind of coping with current issues. Evaluation, planning, and the petitioning of other business stakeholders take time, that may not be available.

This is where technology partners have a vital role to play in easing the pressure on technologists during this most challenging period and providing them with the support and information they need to build a business case and execute against a strategic implementation program.

The skills-gap problem
Technology partners can also bridge the stark skills gaps that exist in many enterprise IT teams. In the UAE, 44% of respondents to the Agents of Transformation study expressed concern about a lack of skills in their organization to deliver full-stack observability and tally it with business data. These concerns emanate largely from the new architectures that have cropped up during the past year’s rapid migration to the cloud. Because most IT staff have been trained to deal with legacy physical networks, any monitoring skills they have may apply only to such environments. When moving to the more software-defined cloud, a different skill-set is required.

This situation led to the establishment of standards such as OpenTelemetry, an open-source framework designed specifically for observability. Vendor-neutral APIs, SDKs and other tools come together to ease the collation of telemetry data from cloud-native applications and infrastructure.

Whether they outsource or recruit, IT leaders will need to address skills gaps before they compromise the ability to deliver high-quality user experiences. Attracting the right talent and upskilling existing staff will be vital in settling comfortably into a new home in the cloud.

Most UAE technologists know that full-stack observability does not come from simply installing a monitoring platform. And 73% say they are wary of misleading claims from vendors who are re-labelling monitoring as observability. Organizations must change their culture, build skills, and remodel workflows. IT teams need to take ownership of technology health across the digital estate and connect IT performance data with business outcomes. Whether alone or with partners, businesses need to find ways of delivering observability so they can unlock the value of their digital assets and deliver sustainable transformation.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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