Futureproofing IT: why observability matters in the hybrid age

By Cullen Childress, Senior Vice President of Product, SolarWinds
Monday, 01 July, 2024

Futureproofing IT: why observability matters in the hybrid age

Today’s IT teams are under pressure to successfully manage increasingly complex digital environments. Cloud migration, the adoption of software-defined networks (SDN), 5G and modern app frameworks present heightened monitoring and issue resolution challenges. Uptime and service level requirements are becoming stricter, while budgets and staffing levels remain tight.

As cloud migration continues to accelerate, enterprises have recognised that on-premises infrastructure is crucial for controlling cloud spending and adhering to data regulations. This recognition is partly driven by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), as AI solutions often lead to escalating cloud costs and massive workloads that cannot all be stored on the cloud. Additionally, on-premises systems often host applications that enterprises aren’t ready to transition to the cloud but that remain vital to their business processes. Recent Gartner research suggests that by 2027, up to 50% of critical applications will reside outside of centralised public clouds. As a result, there’s a growing trend to return some workloads and data to private data centres while continuing to distribute environments across both public and private clouds. Therefore, it’s crucial for IT teams to have solutions that account for both on-premises and cloud infrastructure.

Hybrid on-premises and cloud environments offer key benefits, including strong security, enhanced data control, streamlined compliance management and more flexible customisation options. However, they are also notoriously difficult to manage and monitor due to unique challenges, such as incompatible tools and limited visibility into system interdependencies.

Considering this complexity, it’s no longer enough to solely use the conventional monitoring tools our industry has long relied on for security, efficiency, performance and resource allocation in isolation. As organisations evolve from monitoring to observability, the adoption of more sophisticated and holistic tools enables them to proactively manage hybrid technology environments, mitigate the heightened risks of downtime, improve team productivity, safeguard service delivery and strengthen business performance.

By providing comprehensive, single-path insights into every corner of the IT ecosystem — from applications, networks and databases to multi-cloud, on-premises data centres and other devices — observability solutions reduce complexity and help IT teams understand residual impacts across the full stack. Unlike traditional monitoring, observability is proactive and holistic. It provides teams with explanations, not just alarms.

Whether an organisation’s data resides in the cloud, on-premises or a blend of both, observability tools not only provide an eagle-eye view of system health but can also anticipate future problems. This enables businesses to take pre-emptive action instead of reacting to issues as they arise. This results in a smoother, more reliable service for customers with less need for constant troubleshooting.

As the tech world continues to hybridise, purely cloud-based operations may soon be the exception rather than the rule. A comprehensive tool that offers a panoramic view of the technology stack is not an option anymore: it’s a necessity. In short, any observability solution that doesn’t account for on-premises systems is incomplete.

For businesses to thrive in today’s digital world, understanding and managing on-premises, cloud and hybrid infrastructures will be key. While cloud migration is likely to remain an IT priority, organisations should be cautious about trading short-term innovation for long-term, scalable solutions. Companies must remember that the current state of their business isn’t indicative of where it will be in 10 years.

As more companies adopt or opt to stick with a hybrid model, there is a growing need for a holistic approach to observability, one capable of providing comprehensive visibility. Merely observing the cloud is insufficient; it is crucial to be able to monitor and manage both cloud and on-premises environments seamlessly. Enterprises aren’t ignoring the evergreen benefits of on-premises systems — and they shouldn’t ignore the importance of full, continuous visibility into them either.

Technology continues to evolve, but not everything is set to change. While hybrid cloud is becoming increasingly commonplace in the IT industry, on-premises infrastructure and the tools to manage it will remain fundamental. Observability tools have the potential to be an organisation’s secret weapon for driving efficiency and innovation in today’s complex digital landscape.

Image credit: iStock.com/ArtemisDiana

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