Enabling full-stack observability for business success


By Sascha Giese, Head Geek at SolarWinds
Tuesday, 22 August, 2023

Enabling full-stack observability for business success

After the craziness of the last few years, it is understandable that IT, DevOps and operations teams want more stability in their personal lives and professional roles. However, there appears to be a disconnect between their desire for stability and the vision from the top.

According to a report from McKinsey & Company, research has found that the response to the pandemic has sped up the adoption of digital technologies within businesses for several years, with executives increasing funding for digital initiatives. This means threading a delicate balance between stability and scalability.

Consequently, organisations will require a streamlined approach to understand the internal dynamics of their swiftly growing hybrid infrastructure. This understanding is crucial for pinpointing pertinent issues, automating the right areas and ensuring the uninterrupted delivery of services, ultimately leading to business success and superior digital experiences. This is where full-stack observability comes into play. In this article, let’s explore its benefits and why it’s crucial for business success.

What is full-stack observability?

Full-stack observability centralises multiple disparate outputs for a consolidated view across distributed IT environments, whether on-premises, in the cloud or a hybrid deployment. Full-stack observability can allow modern businesses to meet the challenges of digital transformation by extending visibility beyond the limits of traditional monitoring tools.

Organisations are learning how full-stack observability can help teams reach optimal service performance, compliance and resilience by using a single source of truth to identify and resolve events with the potential to cause performance degradation and loss of productivity.

The need to consistently deliver high-quality digital experiences and service-level commitments against the backdrop of supporting hybrid cloud environments has raised the bar, straining the capabilities of domain-centric monitoring tools and legacy systems. As a result of pushing the limits of what can be accomplished with the management and monitoring of databases, networks and services, it has become essential to rein in fragmented organisational silos and minimise reliance on manual processes by using full-stack observability to empower teams and improve the performance of environments.

Here’s how full-stack observability can help.

Tear down departmental silos

If their experience during the pandemic is any indication, most teams can expect to remain actively involved in running the business, not just playing support. However, instead of each department owning just a piece of their organisation’s ever-expanding hybrid IT stack, teams across the organisation will need broader visibility with even deeper insight into their ever-changing environment. Fortunately, organisations can turn to full-stack observability to help teams manage this transition and deliver in their new roles more effectively.

As the business grows, teams like IT must also split between scaling infrastructure and maintenance, ensuring vision-driving technology is deployed correctly and service-level agreements (SLAs) remain in the green. This entails a role and mindset shift for everyone, from technical problem solvers to key decision-makers. This is also true for other parts of the business — such as DevOps roles or even financial and HR departments — as they’ve become heavily involved in the application stack and leveraging data for business-critical insights.

Although some may think observability primarily benefits IT stakeholders, its ability to enhance productivity, improve cost efficiencies and make real-time operational insights available extends across the entire enterprise, from the data centre and cloud-native assets to the C-suite.

Tool consolidation

Organisations can also more easily tear down operational silos by consolidating the number of tools they use. Since full-stack observability offers a single-pane-of-glass view of critical metrics, the centralised UI can provide an increasingly valuable source of truth for stakeholders and help foster a stronger partnership between IT and business leadership. This ultimately leads to improved collaboration, streamlined workflows and elevated business objectives.

Further contributing to observability’s value is the total savings organisations can realise by eliminating licensing costs from multiple individual tools and implementing one comprehensive observability solution built to minimise complexity and costs.

Optimising observability for DevOps

A difficult decision concerning observability for DevOps is determining which events are important enough to watch. It’s tempting for the DevOps team to monitor everything, but this can prove counterproductive. These teams can spend more time on break/fix services than developing solutions to create better business outcomes.

With observability’s emergence as the new standard for gaining visibility into cloud architectures, IT stakeholders fully expect to gain a myriad of next-generation abilities. Among them, and perhaps most enticingly, is the ability to measure — in real time — the performance of applications and data flows based on collected outputs from systems within the targeted distributed network.

On the database/application side of the equation, observability empowers developers to detect performance issues with the code they put into production and initiate a rapid response to automated alerts when applications drift outside of specified baselines. Observability can also reveal how service dependencies can impact each other and the resulting impact on customer experience caused by performance issues and other operational challenges.

As a central vantage point of visibility and management for DevOps processes within next-generation app stacks, observability can be the primary driver for app modernisation, reducing outages and preventing performance degradation.

Modernising apps and databases

Modernisation is meant to transform static applications into agile applications, positively impacting enterprise technology and business culture. Possessing this capability is especially important, given the drastic rise in cloud-based application hosting.

Observability presents organisations with streamlined options for improved visibility into application hosting, which can empower teams across IT Ops, DevOps, Cloud Ops and IT leadership to take full advantage of the cloud’s potential power. This includes any mixture of on-premises, public or private cloud environments, providing a one-stop tool for maintaining app and database stability.

Helps shift IT culture from reactive to proactive

The shift from monitoring to observability represents a significant cultural change comparable to the transition from on-premises set-ups to the cloud. Unlike traditional monitoring, which is limited to alerting when an issue arises, full-stack observability provides visibility into events before they reach a critical impact point and offers automated remediation and actionable intelligence to help prevent future occurrences.

These advanced capabilities not only enable a proactive approach but also transform the IT culture from reactive to data-driven and rapid response-oriented. While the most apparent benefit lies in the improved efficiency within the IT department, its true value lies in continuously aligning the organisation’s infrastructure with ever-evolving business objectives.

Image credit: iStock.com/ArtemisDiana

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