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Why IT teams are stretched – and how to make things better

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By James Harvey, EMEAR CTO at Cisco AppDynamics

Throughout 2020, technologists were forced to execute innovation projects at break-neck speed as their organizations responded to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, our collective reliance on digital services has reached new, previously unthinkable, heights, with people now using more applications, more often, across more areas of their lives. With this reliance has come soaring expectations for seamless and engaging digital experiences – and a total lack of tolerance for bad ones, piling immense pressure onto application owners in the process. 

At the same time, new application functionality, a growing number of users, a far greater demand for applications, and the acceleration to the cloud, have all led to soaring complexity in IT departments. This is making it far more difficult for IT leaders to know how to prioritize application fixes, based on the impact on the business and the user. What’s more, in order to facilitate business transformation at this speed, organizations have been forced to fast-track their move towards cloud computing, but this, in turn, has led to yet more complexity, with IT teams now faced with the challenge of controlling systems both within and outside of the core IT estate.

The end result is IT teams struggling to manage overwhelming ‘data noise’, without the resources and support they desperately need. Is it any wonder that 90 percent of UAE technologists report feeling under immense pressure at work?

So, how can we put the power back into their hands, so they can spend less time troubleshooting and more time building flawless experiences for users?

Visualizing everything can be a huge boon for teams

IT teams need the means to more comfortably monitor the full IT estate, from traditional, legacy IT systems through to new, hybrid cloud environments. This concept is known as full-stack observability ― from customer-facing applications down to core network and infrastructure ― and allows technologists to identify and fix performance issues before they adversely affect customers and the business.

98 percent of technologists across the Emirates point to the negative consequences of not having genuine visibility and insight into the performance of the whole technology stack. These include difficulties prioritizing IT innovation, the creation of silos across the organization, and the loss of customers and revenue, due to technology performance issues.

Meanwhile, confronted with heightened levels of complexity, 73 percent of UAE technologists acknowledge that they can no longer afford to rely on gut instinct when it comes to technical performance, but instead need accurate, real-time data at their disposal. This will support them in monitoring the health of applications and services and their impact on user experience and business outcomes, as well as the health of network and infrastructure (traditional, cloud, or WAN) and its effect on applications and services. A platform capable of receiving data from multiple sources means they can more accurately understand and represent topologies and dependencies, and drive actions.

Understanding the resource needs of every app

As applications continue to evolve in capability and complexity to align with the elevated digital experiences now expected by our customers, application teams are focused on application topologies and infrastructure teams on the tech stack and workloads ― but there can often be a substantial disconnect between the two. Without a single source of truth, teams can become siloed, negatively affecting their business’s ability both to deliver and to transform.

According to this year’s State of the Cloud survey from Flexera, 75 percent of resources sit idle, which wastes around 26.3 billion dollars a year. It also leaves IT teams stressed and troubleshooting for ways to mitigate this wastage, as well as optimize their resources going forward. While cloud monitoring tools can help, they often aren’t enough to provide end-to-end visibility across data centers, third-party vendors, and cloud infrastructure providers.

When it comes to monitoring cloud-native applications, teams can benefit hugely from increasing visibility across the entire IT stack and automating data processes to reduce complexity. In order to provide a flawless experience, it is critical for technologists to have full visibility of their applications and services’ health and understand in real-time their direct impact on the user experience and business outcomes. Using real-time analytics also allows them to drive the right resource decisions and full-stack automation to continuously optimize resources to the application.

Why the business comes first

A business lens on full-stack observability is critical for technologists to cut through the noise, pinpoint the most important data, and contextualize IT performance insights with real-time business data. Through this business lens, technologists need to see, understand and optimize what happens inside and beyond their IT architecture. This includes monitoring across infrastructure, network, security, and the technology they don’t directly control, such as the public internet and cloud. But they also need business context on data points and decisions, to enable them to organize IT issues, alerts, and incidents by what most impacts the business and user experience.

Only by tying IT issues to tangible business outcomes such as customer experience, sales transactions, and revenue can technologists prioritize decision-making and actions, based on what really matters to the business.

IT teams have demonstrated incredible levels of skill, commitment, and resilience in the past year, in response to the ongoing pandemic. By observing what matters and connecting IT performance to business outcomes, they can elevate the performance to a higher level still ― whatever comes next.

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