By Carlos Pereira, Cisco Fellow and Chief Architect – Strategy, Incubation & Applications
New digital demands and expectations
Over the last year, the relationship and emotional ties to digital services have completely changed. As the world changed around us overnight, our dependency on digital services went from a convenience that we might have used whenever we felt like it—to being an absolute necessity to survive.
We’ve heard from many of our customers that the expectation from their end-users is now at an all-time high for their digital services. End-users now have zero-tolerance for any bad digital experience. Regardless of who’s responsible, they blame the brand of the digital service or application. Cisco researched the changes in digital behaviors over the last year and found that 57% of end-users say brands have only one shot to impress them. If the digital service does not perform, they won’t use it again. When it comes to the emotional level of digital services dependency, the majority also stated they believe it is disrespectful for brands to offer a poor digital experience to their customers in this day and age.
What do these changes in digital behavior mean for your digital business? Simply put, now if end-users of your digital services don’t receive the experience they expect, they will go somewhere else to get it—even if they have to pay more for it. They are now always one click away from any other digital service, and the ability to find and register for another service has become quick and simple. Some of your digital customers may even rely on multiple applications for a digital service they need and regularly switch between them.
The paradox of faster innovation and greater complexity
Every digital business’s goal is to maximize revenue while providing the best customer experiences through their applications. In order to achieve these goals, applications are now architected for speed, flexibility, and scale in order to rapidly innovate new features and experiences. To maximize the speed of innovation at scale, apps are now distributed into microservices and rely on an ecosystem of developed and open-source code and libraries, plus 3rd party services via APIs. The apps run on a complex stack of managed and unmanaged infrastructure across clouds, data centers, security protocols, networks, and the internet. Applications now have thousands, even millions of interdependencies that can all impact the digital experience and business.
For the IT teams that must deploy and manage the application infrastructure, it has reached a level of complexity beyond human scale. Over the last year with the rapid digital transformation in the industry, most global technologists say they are faced with more IT complexity than they have ever experienced before, and wrestle with overwhelming ‘data noise’ without the resources and support they need to understand it. This “data noise” comes from the domain-specific monitoring toolset their teams use for visibility only into the areas they manage, with alerts tied specifically to each domain. The complexity continues to increase, and research from Cisco found 85% of technologists state that quickly cutting through noise, caused by the ever-increasing volumes of data, to identify root causes of performance issues will represent a significant challenge in the year ahead. IT teams are now seeing hundreds of alerts from their domain monitoring tools and yet they don’t have any context into which ones are impacting the application performance and end-user experience, and ultimately affecting their digital business.
The rise of full-stack observability — what it is and why you need it
“Observability” has become the latest IT buzzword in the industry and reminds me of when the industry was ‘cloudifying’ everything. As we talked to industry analysts and customers at Cisco, we believe that to really solve the pain points that IT teams are facing today, we need to evolve beyond simple domain monitoring or observability and provide them full-stack observability. Full-stack observability moves beyond domain monitoring into full-stack visibility, insights, and actions. It transforms siloed data into actionable insights that provide shared context to IT teams so they can deliver exceptional digital experiences, optimize for cost and performance, and maximize digital business revenue.
Full-stack observability starts with visibility across the entire application landscape and the full-stack from the application itself, to the user experience, business transactions, and all the underlying infrastructure that powers the application. From this comprehensive visibility, we can now extract full-stack insights, taking all the relevant data, contextualizing it and then correlating it in real time to understand the dependencies and related business impact by transforming hundreds of alerts sent individually by siloed teams into a stream of shared common context that highlights which issues are impacting the end-use experiences and digital business. Armed with this information, your IT teams can now take team actions across their domains to improve application experiences, optimize distributed infrastructure, remediate security incidents and maximize transaction revenue. For the business, the teams can prioritize performance, optimization and security to deliver the operational specific KPIs for the digital business.
This is how full-stack observability helps businesses keep their applications up and running all the time, providing exceptional experiences for end-users, all while securing the end-users’ and the organization’s data and optimizing costs to enhance the bottom line.
Transform with full-stack observability today
We’ve heard the many challenges organizations are facing as they move to rapidly transform their digital businesses. Cisco is partnering with customers to provide a foundation of full-stack observability to better support their operations. Today companies like AutoNation, FICO, and Freedom Financial have started to reimagine their technology operations with full-stack observability. Cisco’s Full-Stack Observability solution includes integrations across AppDynamics, ThousandEyes, Intersight, and Secure Application, enabling our customers to deliver the exceptional, always-on experiences end-users expect so they don’t click away to another app.