Guest Post: The five key characteristics of an application observability solution 

By: Gregg Ostrowski, CTO Advisor, Cisco AppDynamics

Application observability has become a strategic focus for organizations across all industries. As IT teams face rising levels of complexity, they are actively seeking new tools, structures, and ways of working to effectively deal with these challenges. Technologists recognize that they need to move beyond traditional application monitoring approaches to manage and optimize increasingly fragmented and volatile hybrid environments. 

According to the latest research from Cisco AppDynamics, The Age of Application Observability, 53 per cent of organizations are already evaluating application observability solutions, and 44 per cent are likely to do so in the next 12 months.   

But with the pressure mounting on technologists to accelerate innovation and deliver seamless digital experiences, it’s essential that IT teams are able to identify the right application observability solution. More specifically, they need to ensure that they have unified visibility across their hybrid IT estate. 

A notable 89 per cent of technologists report that their organization’s expectations around application observability solutions are increasing. Businesses are looking at application observability to address some of their biggest strategic challenges, from embedding innovation into their everyday operations through to breaking down the organizational silos that exist between people, processes, and data.  

Here are five essential attributes to consider when evaluating application observability solutions:

 1. Integration of application availability and performance data with security

The most significant challenge technologists encounter while managing hybrid environments is the expansion of attack surfaces. With application components running across a mix of cloud native platforms and on-premises databases, visibility gaps are being exposed, leading to an increased risk of security events.   

Therefore, application observability solutions must combine performance and security monitoring. This allows IT teams to grasp the potential impact of vulnerabilities and incidents on end users and the business. By utilizing business transactions insights and severity scoring, IT teams can prioritize threats based on their contextual relevance, particularly those that may affect critical areas of the environment or application. Technologists can cut through the data noise caused by high volumes of security alerts and focus on the things that really matter.  

Technologists want an application observability solution that leverages automation and AI to automatically detect and resolve issues across the application landscape. AI should be deployed for continuous detection and prioritization, so that security exploits are identified and blocked automatically, without human intervention, maximizing speed and uptime while minimizing risk.    

2. Ability to validate investments in cloud native technologies   

Among the ongoing economic slowdown, digital transformation budgets are facing scrutiny, and IT leaders are under mounting pressure to justify their cloud investments. Despite this, a staggering 84 per cent of technologists admit that they struggle to align cloud costs with business performance.   

This is why technologists want an application observability solution which correlates IT data with business metrics. This enables IT leaders to generate business transaction insights in real-time, and then to view them in business-level dashboards. They can measure and demonstrate the value that their innovation programs are generating.  

Application observability should allow IT teams to make insight-driven decisions around investment. Indeed, 88 per cent of technologists claim that application observability with business context will enable them to be more strategic and spend more time on innovation. 

3. Simplifies rather than adds to complexity   

83 per cent of technologists state that levels of complexity within their IT department are rising because of increased deployment of cloud native technologies. IT teams are being bombarded with overwhelming volumes of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) data from microservices and containers.  

It’s essential that application observability solutions are able to simplify complexity, separating signal from noise to provide IT teams with key insights on application availability, performance and security. Technologists need a solution which offers complete visibility across the application landscape to easily understand how applications and digital services are performing in real time.

4. Provides a single version of truth for all availability, performance and security data   

With most IT departments still deploying separate tools to monitor cloud native and on-premises technologies, IT teams don’t have complete visibility up and down the application path where components are running across a hybrid environment. This approach reinforces siloed working practices and cultures, as teams are confined to their own datasets.  

Technologists are looking for an application observability solution which provides a single source of truth for all availability, performance, and security data. Application observability should provide a platform for much closer collaboration between developers, operations, and security teams, paving the way for a DevSecOps approach in the IT department. Technologists want application observability to unite IT teams around a common purpose and shared vision. 

5. Utilizes OpenTelemetry

As organizations transition to modern application stacks, OpenTelemetry becomes essential for IT teams seeking to effectively manage and optimize availability and performance within dynamic cloud native environments.   

This is why technologists point to the need for an application observability solution which can ingest the massive volumes of data they get from OpenTelemetry. Moreover, it should seamlessly integrate this data with information gathered from other sources through agents and public cloud environments like Kubernetes. 

Technologists want a unified application observability solution which can extract business transactions from OpenTelemetry data. This allows IT teams to generate business context throughout the overarching application flow to always drive seamless digital experiences.  

With application observability now a priority for 85 per cent of organizations, IT leaders will be looking to develop a holistic and future-proof strategy for their organization. This means finding a solution which provides flexibility to span across both cloud native and on-premises technologies, to provide IT teams with the real-time insights they need to manage and optimize application performance across hybrid environments.  

Ultimately, organizations need an application observability solution which meets the current and future needs of all technologists, enabling them to accelerate innovation and maximize their impact on customers and the business.  


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