Enterprise Bulletin – Q3 2021
Top Emerging Observability Trends 2021
Building resilient systems that are available with high uptime is the end goal for any business: solutions all work towards achieving the unicorn status of Zero Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR). As enterprises manage increasingly complex application environments, observability is moving to the forefront of the IT monitoring market.
While monitoring tells you when something is wrong, observability enables you to understand why. Monitoring is a subset of and key action for observability. Monitoring tracks the overall health of an application. It aggregates data on how the system is performing in terms of access speeds, connectivity, downtime, and bottlenecks. Observability, on the other hand, drills down into the “what” and “why” of application operations, by providing granular and contextual insight using logs, metrics, and traces into its specific failure modes.
Monitoring provides answers only for known problems or occurrences, while software instrumented for observability allows IT teams to ask new questions in order to isolate a problem or gain insight into the general state of a dynamic system with changing complexities and unknown permutations.
Monitoring and Observability Challenges
With myriad technology initiatives, complex business drivers and a huge portfolio of services available, IT needs to be “enterprise-ready” to manage the growing needs of each department while at the same time deliver an optimal experience to its users. Their objective is to gain broader visibility, avoid downtime, and address problems before users discover. However, effectively monitoring of applications with legacy tools comes with its own set of challenges.
Lack of Infrastructure Visibility
Multi-generational, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments have become the norm today. With the rise of multi-cloud, containerization, IoT, and applications built on top of and integrated with old and new technology, it’s harder than ever before to get complete visibility using legacy tools. As per Gartner, downtime can cost a business $5,600 per minute and without visibility, IT teams cannot perform an efficient root cause analysis without the requisite end-to-end Digital Experience Monitoring services.
Each technology operates with its own data set and protocols. This often means that companies have to invest and operate multiple observability platforms and monitoring tools. Collecting, standardizing and consolidating data from different technologies for scalability, reliability or customization can inhibit legacy tools and impact their value to the organization negatively. With the amount of telemetry data increasing as system complexity increases, tools without the ability to scale their data model and ingest other sources of information are not suitable for today’s modern technology environments.
Inability to Manage Incidents
IT teams are looking for monitoring solutions that will also help them accelerate troubleshooting and reduce MTTR on escalated incidents. Achieving this goal requires seamless integration with a third-party service management tool. A legacy tool that fails to capture all alerts in the first place is at a disadvantage when integrated with an ITSM system, thereby increasing costs and additional business overhead. More importantly, we find that the job if runtime monitoring may not be addressed.
SaaS applications running in the expansive cloud space on the internet are vulnerable to security threats and attacks. According to Keysight Technologies’ “The State of Public Cloud Monitoring” research report, a vast number of organizations (87%) worry that not having enough visibility into the public cloud domain hinders their performance and ability to upgrade their security stack. Without having modern and advanced security incident and event monitoring tools, companies risk compromising their customer data and trust while pursuing their cloud destiny.
Stifled Change Management Process
More often than not, Legacy tools don’t integrate well with core DevOps tools including those for monitoring and understanding the impact of new code changes on end-users. Businesses need the right toolset and framework to help streamline the CI/CD pipeline, accelerate immediate response to customer needs, and business changes.
Maintenance and Upgrade Issues
The sophistication and growth of cloud services mean that IT teams must ensure that their monitoring tools can evolve too. This means constantly updating their toolset and needing advanced programming/scripting skills for maintenance. However, this strategy backfires for the IT executive team trying to reduce costs, employee overhead, and looking to resolve incidents faster. In a study conducted by Global Knowledge, less than 60% of decision-makers say their organizations offer formal training for technical employees, down 1% from the previous year.
Too much to monitor
The sheer volume of things to monitor in a distributed environment gets overwhelming quickly. Keeping track of what apps are part of the IT environment and their dependencies is already a challenge, not to mention monitoring the performance of the distributed system.
This complexity results in situations where it can be easy to ignore or overlook the need for true performance monitoring and relying solely on limited scope monitoring information that often is only covering a minuscule portion of the runtime environment.
New IT Initiatives
As businesses virtualize, containerize, consolidate, or migrate their data centers to the cloud, there is an expectation to improve flexibility, cost, and control. Businesses do not account for or expect to negatively impact application performance with the transition, but that is often not the case. When rolling out new applications or expanding existing deployments, it is critical to ensure that the performance required by the business will be delivered. It is also critical to plan, manage and predict the effects of such infrastructure or application changes on application performance. However, businesses often find themselves dealing with unforeseen performance problems and lack the ability to baseline performance and highlight deviations.
How 2020 shaped up Observability Trends
COVID has accelerated consumer expectations for seamless omnichannel experiences over a browser or mobile application. Consumers want to blend online and offline purchases freely, including making reservations, browsing product catalog, selecting and trying products, transferring loyalty points and purchasing goods and having them delivered swiftly. This requires frontend, middleware orchestration and backend supply chain and stock management processes to work seamlessly together. Successful and seamless execution of user experience requires an end-to-end view monitoring of technology stack and business transactions in real-time.
Public cloud services have been the one bright spot in IT spending in 2020, according to Gartner. The firm is predicting that IT spending on public cloud will only continue to increase this year. As companies accelerated cloud migrations and rushed out new apps to meet fast-changing consumer demands, Forrester is predicting that the global public cloud infrastructure market will grow 35% to $120 billion in 2021. Organizations will look to move a much higher number of workloads to the cloud, and will also begin monitoring a much larger portion of their overall application portfolio. The cloud providers are providing more ways to handle hybrid and multi-cloud environments, while simultaneously growing their individual IaaS and PaaS offerings. This will require a more automated approach to monitoring in general, which will open the door for easier to setup and maintain hands-off monitoring of any operating application.
The dramatic shift to a massively distributed and digital workforce in 2020 has required enterprises to understand how things like technical problems and application performance issues impact the productivity of employees and satisfaction of end customers. As more workers continue to adopt this new norm and spend most of their time utilizing SaaS application services, there is a need to embrace new monitoring practices and business performance indicators which give insight into the business impact of a blended objective measure like application response time and subjective measures like user sentiment.
As companies begin to adopt a remote hybrid work mode, existing infrastructure like routers, switches, and other network devices are strained to provide optimal capacity to continue to support this vast remote workforce. The need to adapt to a new monitoring model and invest in modern technology tools became the need of the hour. As per OpsRamp survey in Oct 2020, IT teams have increased virtual team meetings (58%), upgraded network technology infrastructure (56%) and expanded security investments (56%) in order to keep employees productive and collaborating during the pandemic.
The pandemic has made digital touchpoints a critical differentiator for customer interactions while resilient technology infrastructure remains a priority for employees working remotely. With digital initiatives being deployed in unprecedented timeframes, there’s no denying that organizations that fail to invest in technology during an economic slowdown will lose market share to digital-first competitors. In 2020, performance monitoring tools have played a vital role in pinpointing and addressing gaps in the customer experience area. Specifically, technology leaders used or plan to use these performance monitoring tools to ensure compelling customer and employee experiences:
- Artificial intelligence for IT operations (57%) solutions help technology practitioners maintain the uptime, reliability, and performance of technology services with contextual, actionable, and predictive insights.
- Digital experience monitoring (50%) tools put a clear spotlight on business transactions and customer journeys by surfacing end-user interaction insights for complex enterprise services.
- Network performance monitoring and diagnostics (50%) tools ensure responsive network infrastructure with instrumentation analytics and visualizations for device, flow, and packet-level data.
Monitoring and Observability Trends 2021
#1 Customer Experience is Everything
- Enterprises are spending trillions of dollars on digital transformation—$1.25 trillion in 2019 alone, according to IDC—and a huge driving force behind that investment is the desire to improve customer experience.
- Observability offers a unique opportunity for IT leaders to better align tech performance with digital objectives.
- When implemented correctly, Observability tools provide deep visibility into what the customer experience looks like when customers are interacting with a company on a technical plane.
- With consumers leveraging multiple channels and interacting with chatbots, IT teams must ensure that they have the proper solutions in place to be able to monitor and measure the user journey from user to device or device to device.
- The need to focus on improving user experience and app performance is more important than ever.
#2 AI Is Becoming A Mainstay
- Observability is about complete visibility across your systems and tying business metrics with technical data, Monitoring is about understanding if things are working properly, and AIOps is about getting meaning from that visibility. While it can exist separately, AIOps is technically part of observability.
- By taking an AIOps approach, APM will move beyond monitoring and gain the ability to understand what’s going on but also ability to drive the right intelligent action, automatically.
- The benefits of this are exciting (e.g. instant scaling of infrastructure resources in any environment, and the automatic changing of network policies based on customer and business insight)
- It’s important to note that successful AIOps is less about the solution and more about the need for technologists to trust APM solutions and to embrace automation.
#3 Analytics Is Powering Real-time Insights
- Enterprises need real-time, actionable insights into IT operations in order to achieve specific business outcomes.
- The notion of real-time data collection and analysis is rising and increasingly important for enterprise IT customers that are shifting more container and microservice-based workloads toward the public cloud infrastructures and PaaS models,” according to IDC.
- Monitoring and Observability vendors are integrating data analytics into their software to collect, analyze, and predict network and application trends for users.
- Harnessing the power of analytics to turn data into insightful information helps identify issues and decide when to update and release applications.
- It’s why, IDC expects, “Big data analytics will increasingly be paired with APM to provide developers, IT operations, and business analysts with important and actionable insights.”
#4 Solutions are Adapting to Hybrid Cloud Networks
- Cloud adoption continues to grow in all its forms: 68% of IT organizations are running hybrid transactions that span on-premises and public cloud applications. And public cloud traffic accounts for over 45% of overall network traffic.
- Monitoring hybrid cloud architectures can cause problems, including relying on multiple tools, being unable to predict resource utilization, and not being able to support dynamic environments.
- APM will have solutions to provide end-to-end visibility for business-critical applications. IT professionals need to have the capacity to monitor private, public, and hybrid clouds so that there are no performance issues between end-users.
#5 Performance KPIs Are Being Linked to Business KPIs
- Gartner analysts say there’s a “growing relationship between the health of the application and the health of the business” that’s increasing the importance of APM to the business.
- Connecting application performance to business performance is the ultimate goal for any enterprise. But today, this connection is usually disjointed.
- To bridge this visibility gap, leveraging observability software that can offer immediate, clear, actionable correlations between application performance, user experience, and business outcomes is key.
- More of this will be evident as organizations use APM to shift tracking application performance from mean time to resolution (MTTR) to time to business impact (TTBI).
#6 Observability is Shifting Left in the Release Cycle
- As businesses try to move more quickly to adjust to fickle market conditions with appropriate digital capabilities, software development teams will have to respond with faster release cycles.
- By utilizing observability tools in development and QA, many performance issues and bugs can be identified before they make it to production.
- Performance baselines can be set in QA and new builds can be compared to that baseline for potential problems.
- Giving developers access to performance details, applications logs, and errors enable them to better troubleshoot and validate problems in QA environments.
#7 Full-Stack Observability Is Breaking Individual Silos
- IT organizations should look for an Observability solution that can provide full or near full visibility into critical components of the enterprise stack.
- With containers and microservices becoming mainstream, they inherently make the enterprise IT stack more complex—and more difficult to monitor. It’s why IDC suggests Observability technology vendors will need to provide robust support for container and microservices-based applications in order to stay competitive in the coming years.
- Full-stack monitoring is able to correlate infrastructure metrics, application metrics, and transaction metrics to show IT teams the “complete” picture of what was going on during an incident.
- Rather than taking the time to analyze data from every area across your enterprise, full-stack solutions combine all the relevant metrics into one solid, actionable answer.