Over the last year digital transformation projects across the Middle East have dramatically accelerated, as the pandemic pushed businesses to shift to remote work and a digital-first mindset almost overnight.
These initiatives typically involve migration to cloud services and deployment of new communications tools. The resulting complexity has increased the need for more sophisticated application performance monitoring (APM) programmes that can foster what is known as “observability” — the ability of a system to provide a high-level overview of IT infrastructure as well as granular metrics, to allow for efficient network and security management.
According to Harish Dunakhe, IDC research director, software and cloud, while many META CIOs may have de-prioritised some of their more long-term initiatives at the start of the pandemic, they brought forward those that ensured business continuity by enabling implementation of critical systems such as business collaboration. As time went on, they then began to look at IT architectures, factoring in changes like flexible working, which has become part of the ‘new normal’.
With this in mind, most CIOs are refactoring their business applications and driving app portfolio modernisation initiatives says Dunakhe. AI, big data and analytics are some of the biggest priorities, but “while the objective is to respond faster to the changing market needs, it’s definitely increasing IT complexity,” he notes.
Pandemic increases IT complexity
A recent study by AppDynamics, a maker of APM and performance management software acquired by Cisco in 2017, backs up this view. Over two thirds (79%) of UAE technologists questioned reported that the pandemic had created more IT complexity than ever before. Key contributors included acceleration to cloud computing, new sets of priorities and challenges, multiple, disconnected monitoring solutions, technology sprawl and a patchwork of legacy and cloud technologies.
This complexity is taking its toll on IT teams — the survey also noted that 90% of UAE respondents felt under immense pressure at work and 77% were already struggling to manage overwhelming ‘data noise’. Approximately 85% said they were frustrated with the situation and struggling to turn off at the end of the day.
A need for real-time visibility of the IT estate
To get a hold on this spiralling complexity, the majority (97%) of IT professionals questioned agreed they need more than just monitoring capabilities; they need real-time visibility across the entire IT estate.
Furthermore, without full visibility, there can be difficulties in prioritising IT innovation, organisational silos can appear, and revenue and customers could be lost due to technology performance issues.
“In my conversations with customers they talk about wanting to ‘connect the dots’ up and down the stack. This goes from customer or employee-facing applications all the way down to the lowest level infrastructure – compute, storage, network and public internet,” notes David Noël, AppDynamics’ regional vice president, Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa.
AppDynamics is one of a wide range of vendors offering a variety of systems metrics, tracing and management applications, including Dynatrace, New Relic, BMC, Compuware, LogicMonitor. IT professionals know what they need, but there’s a degree of confusion regarding the solutions available for full system observability.
AppDynamics’ report noted that almost two thirds (73%) of those questioned are wary of misleading claims from vendors who are re-labelling monitoring as observability. In addition, 67% said it’s difficult to distinguish between monitoring and observability tools.
Why full-stack observability?
Noël advises organisations to focus on full-stack observability solutions, as these facilitate visibility and control of the IT environment and can help organisations go beyond traditional system monitoring.
“Monitoring individual elements of the IT stack – applications, databases, services etc is critical, but for modern, digitally-focused organisations in the UAE, the stakes just got much higher, and monitoring alone just isn’t enough anymore,” Noël says. “Technologists now require complete and real-time visibility across the entire IT estate and the ability to monitor and correlate data across the stack. To achieve this, they need full-stack observability.”
Observability affects business performance
IT teams need a single platform that enables them to monitor the full IT stack and quickly navigate through the data deluge to pinpoint the most critical data and contextualise IT performance insights. By applying a business lens to full-stack observability, they can find and analyse the most important data and take action accordingly.
“They can proactively improve system uptime and availability, reduce unplanned downtime of critical systems,” said IDC’s Dunakhe. “Once the availability of critical systems increases, so can revenue and profitability.”
“Full-stack observability is the need of the hour,” Dunakhe concludes. “We believe it has the potential to enable sustainable growth and success in the digital initiatives without burning out the IT resources.”