High-profile outages highlight the need for new IT management solutions

IT outages
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For technologists that have spent the last 18 months working tirelessly to help their organizations navigate through the pandemic, the recent outage issues at Facebook have served as a stark reminder of how quickly all of their heroic achievements can be undone. 

Following the events, AppDynamics conducted a global pulse survey of 1,000 IT decision-makers (across 11 countries) to explore how these outages had raised concerns around IT performance issues within their own organizations, and to what extent IT departments are now reviewing the measures they have in place to mitigate against these risks.

Unsurprisingly, 87% of respondents reported that they are now concerned about the potential for a major outage in their business and the resulting disruption to their applications and digital services. But, significantly, these fears are now extending beyond the IT department, with 84% of technologists coming under increasing pressure from their organization’s leadership to prevent a major performance issue or outage. 

Indeed, business leaders have become acutely aware of the risks related to IT performance issues in the current environment. This time it was Facebook – which, let’s face it, is far better placed than most brands to bounce back from this type of issue – but CEOs in every industry will have been playing out this worst-case scenario in their heads over the last fortnight.

Evidently, there is now a widespread realization that the bar for digital experience has been raised over the last 18 months. For instance, more than 60 million consumers in Southeast Asia started using digital services, from e-commerce to food delivery and financial service, during lockdown. So consumers have been exposed to the very best applications and are far more discerning about the digital services they use. And today, they have become completely unforgiving when it comes to IT performance issues – as soon as they encounter a problem, they move on to an alternative application, potentially forever. It doesn’t matter if it’s a brand they love, consumers simply won’t tolerate anything less than an optimal digital experience. Unfortunately, the burden on technologists to ensure applications are up and running at all times gets even heavier. 

Complexity is the biggest barrier to IT performance

The last 18 months have seen a major acceleration in digital transformation projects as organizations have scrambled to meet the needs of their customers and employees during the pandemic. New digital services and applications have been launched in the blink of an eye, in most cases supported and enabled by a massive increase in cloud computing programs. 

While these efforts have enabled businesses to navigate through the pandemic, anybody that works in IT will know that they have also led to immense technology sprawl, with IT departments now attempting to manage a fragmented patchwork of legacy and cloud technologies. Technologists are being engulfed by crippling complexity from right across their IT infrastructure. 

The big problem is that most technologists are unable to cut through this complexity, and the overwhelming volumes of data they’re being served up from up and down their IT stack, to quickly and fix issues. The vast majority (87%) of those we polled stated that increased complexity is causing long delays in identifying the root cause of performance issues, meaning that many technologists are stuck on the back foot, constantly firefighting issues and unable to take a proactive approach to IT performance. It’s stressful and exhausting, with the constant worry that a performance issue could have a major impact on the end-user experience.

Almost all IT teams are now deploying monitoring tools to some degree but many technologists are concerned that these tools simply aren’t fit for purpose in this new ultra-complex environment. These tools don’t provide a unified view of IT performance up and down the IT stack and very few are able to effectively monitor legacy, hybrid and cloud environments. Tellingly, only 27% of technologists are wholly confident that their current tools meet their needs. 

Full-stack observability is key to unifying performance data and identifying which issues matter most

Technologists need a new approach to managing IT performance in this new era of heightened expectation around digital experience. Solutions that might have been sufficient two years ago just don’t cut it now that the risks of poor performance are so high. 

Encouragingly, technologists are clear on what they need. Almost three quarters (72%) state that their organization must deploy a full-stack observability solution within the next 12 months to enable them to solve complexity across their IT stack and to easily identify and fix the root causes of performance issues. They recognize that they need unified, real-time visibility into IT performance up and down the IT stack, from customer-facing applications right through to core infrastructures, such as compute, storage, network and public internet and inter-services’ dependencies. 

But, in reality, this simply isn’t enough in the current environment. Even with full-stack observability in place, it can be difficult to pinpoint the most pressing, urgent issues from within the masses of performance data coming from across the IT estate.

That’s why it’s critical to connect IT performance data with real-time business metrics – to quickly understand how issues really affect end-users and the business. Faced with a dozen potential issues, a business lens on IT performance enables technologists to immediately pick out the one or two issues that could really damage digital experience and focus their efforts there. Ultimately, if business leaders are truly concerned about the potential damage that performance issues could do to their brand, they need to ensure their IT departments have the right tools, processes and procedures to make better decisions. Full-stack observability with business context enables technologists to cut through complexity, take a more proactive approach to IT performance, and focus on dealing with the issues that matter most.

By Joe Byrne, Executive CTO, AppDynamics

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