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Why full-stack observability has become a mission-critical priority in 2022

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By Joe Byrne, executive CTO, Cisco AppDynamics

The transition to full-stack observability took off during 2021 as technologists across all sectors in the UAE looked to build on their existing monitoring capabilities and generate a more unified view on IT availability and performance across their IT estates.

The latest report from AppDynamics, The Journey to Observability, reveals a surge of organizations making serious moves to improve visibility within their IT environment. More than half of organizations in the UAE (55%) started out on the journey to full-stack observability, and a further 38% are planning to do so in the next 12 months. That means that a remarkable 93% of organizations in the Emirates will be somewhere along the journey to full-stack observability during 2022.

Interestingly, after several years of technologists calling for new solutions and approaches to manage and optimize availability and performance, talk turned to action in 2021. 96% of UAE technologists state that appetite for full-stack observability within their organization has increased over the last 12 months. And remarkably, just about all (99%) technologists in the Emirates report that the wider business has been supportive of their efforts to implement full-stack observability, in terms of providing the necessary budget and resources.

This represents a huge shift in attitude and behavior over the last 12 months. You only have to go back to late 2020 and we were regularly hearing from customers that it was a struggle to convince business leaders of the need for full-stack observability solutions and to secure the necessary sponsorship for implementation programs.

The research finds that there are now five key drivers for this new desire for full-stack observability within most organizations, both inside and outside the IT department:

Growing complexity of IT infrastructure

Anybody that works in IT will know that the last two years have seen a massive increase in complexity within the IT department. The rapid innovation that was required to maintain operations and meet fluctuating customer needs left technologists managing an ever-more fragmented IT estate, across both legacy and cloud environments.

Very few technologists have full visibility into legacy on-premise architecture alongside cloud native environments. Most are still relying on multiple, disconnected tools to monitor IT availability and performance across the IT stack. And while these current solutions are performing a vital role, allowing technologists to identify issues and take appropriate action within a specific domain, the lack of connection and interoperability between these tools means it’s incredibly difficult to understand dependencies up and down the IT stack. Technologists find themselves being overwhelmed by data noise and without the means to identify which issues really matter and where to focus their efforts.

Increasing customer expectations for exceptional digital experiences

After two years in which consumers have come to rely on digital services in almost every area of their lives, particularly during lockdowns, expectations for digital services and applications have skyrocketed. 

In the recent consumer study from AppDynamics, The App Attention Index 2021: Who takes the rap for the app?, 75% of UAE respondents reported that their expectation of digital services has changed forever and they won’t tolerate poor performance any more. 

Across every sector, consumers in the Emirates are now looking for the ‘total application experience’ — a high-performing, reliable, digital service which is simple to use, secure, helpful and fun to use. They expect applications to be personalized to their preferences and needs and to add real value to their lives.

Technologists are acutely aware of this shift in consumer behavior and understand the need to deliver the most innovative and seamless digital experiences, each and every time. 

Growing concern about potential impact of outages or service disruption on digital services

With people now so reliant on digital services to go about their everyday lives, consumers have become completely unforgiving when they encounter a digital service that doesn’t meet their expectations. In the same consumer study, 73% of people in the UAE (16% higher than the global average) stated that brands have only one shot to impress them and that if their digital service doesn’t perform, they won’t use them again. Not only that, they will tell their friends and family not to do so as well.

Any slip-up in application performance and businesses risk losing customers and revenue, possibly forever, not to mention negative media and social media coverage and a tarnished reputation.

What’s become really clear is that this risk has really hit home over the last 12 months, not just within IT departments but also in boardrooms around the world. The constant conveyor belt of major brands that have suffered a high profile outage or major service disruption recently has served as a constant, chilling reminder to senior leadership teams of the potential consequences of something similar happening to their own organization. 

This is undoubtedly a major reason for why business stakeholders are now strongly backing the transition to full-stack observability and freeing up the necessary resources and budgets for technologists to accelerate their implementation programs. 

Impact of remote and hybrid working

As well as having to innovate at speed to meet customer needs during the pandemic, technologists have also had to deliver new applications and digital services to enable entire workforces to operate remotely during lockdown.

Two years on and it’s clear that working patterns have changed forever and so UAE technologists will continue to have to provide digital services to a hybrid workforce that is only going to become more fluid and flexible in the future. Not only that but employees now expect the same level of digital experiences from their employer as they get outside of work — they want to be able to use their own devices and they expect to be able to access applications quickly and seamlessly, wherever they are.

Ongoing pressure to accelerate digital transformation

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the fact that it continues to be cited as a key strategic priority for business leaders in all sectors, the constant desire for digital transformation within most organizations is heaping pressure on regional IT departments. Technologists are being asked to deliver innovation at speed as part of everyday operations now and this will be the case even when the pandemic is well and truly over. 

These five factors are combining to create an indisputable case for full-stack observability. In order to navigate through these growing demands and challenges, technologists in the Emirates need unified, real-time visibility into IT availability and performance up and down the stack for compute, storage, network and public internet, from the customer facing application to deep down in the back-end. Only with this single source can IT operations, development teams and networking teams quickly and easily identify anomalies, understand root causes through dependency analysis and fix issues before they impact the end users and the business. And only when this IT performance data is connected to business outcomes, are technologists able to assess issues based on their potential impact to the business and prioritize their actions accordingly.  

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