Council Post: Full Stack Observability: Optimizing Application Experiences in the Modern World


Matthew J. Morgan Vice President of Marketing; Cisco Strategy, innovation and application.

During spring break this year, I took my sons on a wonderful camping trip to Mount Shasta. Of course, there was also an important business meeting that week. As with many modern workers, this fact did not cause anxiety. It was when I had a meeting in the wilderness using remote access and wireless internet technology in my campervan. The meeting was productive and went without problems.

Just five years ago, this ‘daily collaboration’ would have been difficult to imagine. It’s all part of an experience innovation that has created all kinds of new possibilities for hybrid work, learning, commerce, healthcare and more.

Wi-Fi 6, 5G, and satellite internet connectivity are important, but cloud and SaaS apps have been a real boost to the camper experience. However, while these experiences can appear seamless, they add complexity to the team that supports them. A meeting at Mount Shasta involved much more than just launching an app. Each video call, screen sharing, and document collaboration relied on multiple clouds, IT stacks, security solutions, and teams to function efficiently. Any glitch, no matter where you are, can disrupt meetings and result in lost business.

Today, apps are business. Therefore, disruptions due to downtime, latency, or security breaches can mean lost revenue and erosion of brand loyalty. Moreover, these experiences will only become more complex as so-called multicloud composite apps accelerate the transformation of experiences to the next level. Organizations that fail to optimize this experience will fall behind.

This is why full stack observability is important. This is the only way for teams to gain visibility, insight and action in a highly complex ecosystem to deliver what digital services have to offer and pinpoint where problems are occurring and who is responsible for solving them.

Today’s app experiences are based on a set of skills and teams. If the problem is, it could be networking, security, infrastructure, storage, web services, or many other players. Your organization may have a developer, IT, or security team. In the age of monolithic apps, no team is unfamiliar with solving problems together because one team is focused on one problem.

Apps today are not monolithic. They are highly distributed. However, many teams are isolated. The multicloud environment has enabled a spectrum of “not my problem” excuses, where teams sometimes blame each other when things go wrong or external players like SaaS, web providers, etc.

In fact, poor apps are everyone’s problem. (app is Business, remember?

This is why point solutions fail in this complex new environment. Gone are the days when teams had to monitor only a single computer, storage, and network layer. Now they have to look at heterogeneous and connected architectures that include a variety of technology, people, and infrastructure components.

So, is full-stack observability suitable for all of this?

To fully answer this question, we have to go back to the 90s. The IT department has started monitoring to make sure the app is healthy. The advent of cloud-based apps required an additional level of observability, along with the ability to see on-premises or in the cloud and apply solutions such as root cause analysis to identify where problems are occurring.

It was fine until the highly distributed world of multi-cloud emerged and followed by the aforementioned silo of teams. Full Stack Observability (FSO) takes advantage of modern AI and machine learning to remove this layer of complexity. It also gives teams the ability to see everything in the ecosystem, analyze problems, clarify how they can solve problems, and decide which teams need to work together.

In short, FSO comes down to visibility, insight and action. These capabilities are essential to keep pace with today’s app-centric experience innovation.

I believe they will be much more critical in the future. As we evolve from on-premises to cloud and multi-cloud environments, app optimization has become more complex at every level. We can expect that complexity to accelerate exponentially over the next few years.

Because apps are becoming more and more integrated. Take health care as an example. Clinicians need to get data, medical records, and insights from multiple sources in real time. For this to work seamlessly, multiple apps, clouds, data sources, IT stacks, security solutions, and more must be more integrated than ever before, and it seems invisible, with the AI ​​and machine learning innovations making it possible. All end users, also referred to as doctors, will see one seamless, easy-to-use app experience.

Beyond healthcare, these highly integrated app experiences could transform support for distributed energy grids, self-driving cars moving over local networks, complex retail interactions, and more. But for all of this to thrive, full stack observability will be key. This is the only way to achieve an intuitive, end-to-end view of a highly complex and integrated app experience.

Full stack observability is still in its infancy, but more and more companies are starting to adopt it with a rapid return on investment. To begin, we recommend that organizations look at their overall monitoring strategy and evaluate how teams can best align their approach to integration processes and tools for all applications.

After all, app-based experiences are good or bad. And the ability to keep these apps as amazing, fast and enjoyable as we all expect will continue to be new differentiators for businesses.


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