Technologists the world over have made an incredible contribution in their organizations’ response to the pandemic over the last 18 months. Across all industries, their skill and dedication have enabled businesses to rapidly innovate and launch new digital services to meet huge fluctuations in customer demands and allow entire workforces to operate from home during the pandemic.
But delivering this accelerated digital transformation hasn’t been easy. Our latest Agents of Transformation study, Agents of Transformation: The Rise of Full-Stack Observability, exposed that a large majority of technologists are working longer hours, operating under intense pressure and finding it increasingly difficult to switch off from work, constantly worried about making a costly mistake.
Much of this anxiety stems from the fact that IT Operations teams don’t have the 360-degree visibility across the application stack, they need to monitor health and performance across an increasingly sprawling IT estate, exacerbated by a seismic shift towards cloud architectures over the last 18 months.
Organizations have dramatically scaled up cloud migration and expansion initiatives to support their accelerated digital transformation agendas to face the pandemic and to embed agility and resilience into their operations; but IT Ops teams haven’t yet got the right tools, data& insights to optimize health and performance across their cloud environments.
The result is that technologists are constantly having to fire-fight issues because they can’t easily isolate and identify issues and most of the time, they don’t know where to prioritize their triage actions. Understandably, this is leading to increased levels of frustration and stress.
Now, 18 months on from the start of the pandemic and with adoption of cloud technologies set to accelerate even further over the next few years, it’s time for technologists to get back on the front foot.
Here are four steps for technologists to take the stress out of managing performance across the cloud:
- Get full stack visibility across the cloud environments
Many technologists report major challenges with full visibility into applications and underlying cloud infrastructures that support them for large-scale public cloud environments. They’re finding that traditional performance monitoring tools are of little use in dynamic, distributed, software-defined environments, where organizations are continually scaling up and down their use of IT, based on business needs.
Therefore, it’s essential to implement a platform that is purpose built and designed to deliver full-stack visibility across all cloud infrastructures, from customer-facing applications through to core infrastructure, such as compute, storage, network, and most importantly including the internet experience as well as run-time security.
Technologists need access to platforms that provide alerting, root cause and analysis of correlated MELT (metrics, events, logging, and tracing) data of the cloud to enable early and easy troubleshooting.
Look beyond the jazzy dashboards, for a platform, that truly links infrastructure (compute, storage and network) with the business critical application services they run on, so that when you have a compromised application experience, you can quickly zoom in and identify problematic areas within the application or across the infrastructure including the internet
This will relieve the need for firefighting, constant blame-game and panic, and help to restore some sense of calm in the IT operations.
- Link IT performance (in the cloud) to business results
Once you’ve got full stack visibility into cloud environments and the real-time health and performance of business critical apps, you now need to go one step further and link that performance data with real-time business metrics that matter to your customers, investors and other stakeholders.
Doing this allows you to cut through the massive amounts of performance data generated up and down the IT stack, and narrow down your focus to identify the issues that really matter the most to your customers and the business.
If you connect real-time IT performance insights (particularly in cloud environments) with business outcomes, such as customer experience KPIs, Business KPIs (like sales revenue, # transactions, user behaviour, churns, order to cash etc.), you immediately know which issues to focus on and can make better decisions in real-time. You can get your priorities right – putting business and user/customer impact first, every time.
Analyzing IT performance data through a business lens will make a massive material difference to how you manage your daily workloads and will make sure that you are focusing your time and effort on the activities which will make the biggest difference. It will provide genuine peace of mind.
- Invest in the right skills
This one is difficult because there is a finite pool of talent available to organizations when it comes to managing performance of the cloud. But it’s important, with 42% of technologists expressing concern about a lack of skills within their IT department to deliver a sophisticated level of IT observability across the stack and connect it to business data. Much of this skill gap relates to monitoring performance of the cloud which requires a whole new set of skills, as the shift to OpenTelemetry – an emerging observability data standard with a good fit for cloud-native software.
IT leaders need to do all they can to address this potential skills shortage, either through recruiting high quality talent or investing properly in upskilling their existing teams to transition to a cloud environment over time. This will ease the pressure on existing teams, and give technologists the skills and confidence to progress in their careers.
- Embrace AI so you don’t need to fret about the future
Even with the best observability solutions in place, there is a real danger that IT departments will eventually be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data that will be generated by accelerated digital transformation over the coming years.
IT Ops teams will start to struggle to dedicate the level of resource and skills required to manage and optimize performance across the IT estate. And most observability solutions will be unable to process the deluge of data and complexity involved in large-scale public cloud environments. Put simply, when looking to take the stress out of cloud monitoring, you need to think about tomorrow as well as today.
In order to pre-empt issues in the future, it’s worth considering how you can minimize the impact of a data deluge, by reducing your teams’ reliance on manual interventions to monitor health and performance and remediate issues.
Automation and AI will play an increasingly vital role in tracking health and performance across the entire IT estate, and particularly in large-scale public cloud environments, which are fast becoming the biggest headache for most IT teams.
By deploying AI/ML assisted technologies to identify and fix issues in real-time, technologists can spend less time firefighting thanks to a guiding hand. This will lead to increased job satisfaction and fulfilment and a better work-life balance.
The article has been written by Abhilash Purushothaman, MD (India & SAARC) at AppDynamics.