Why monitoring and observability are critical to your hybrid cloud strategy

According to a 2020 study, over half of the companies that use the public-cloud said that doing so had improved their ability to meet their business goals

Another recent study found that shifting business applications to the cloud helped boost revenue by 16% and productivity by 19%.

Little wonder, that 93% of enterprises today already have a multi-cloud strategy in place and 73% plan to optimise their existing use of the cloud in the future. The advent of sophisticated, scalable cloud architectures — native and hybrid — has enabled organisations to take full advantage of modern cloud infrastructures and microservices architecture to boost productivity and increase cost savings.

Despite these advantages, moving to the cloud still has its headaches for some organisations. Often, in highly complex — cross-platform and multi-site — deployments, it can be hard for IT managers and CIOs to demonstrate the gains from migrating to the cloud. What’s needed, is a way to monitor, configure and optimise the organisation’s entire technology landscape, through a single lens. Failure to do this puts enterprises at an instant disadvantage and means they risk missing out on the benefits of cloud altogether. 

Scale, adapt and grow with the cloud

The benefits of the cloud in terms of flexibility, innovation, collaboration and reduced costs are evident. In one recent study, participants realised savings of up to 40% by moving key business functions to the cloud.

However, in many cases, the shift to the cloud has also led to a more complex, distributed application architecture and configuration. Some components remain on-premise while the rest of them move to the cloud, creating a hybrid architecture.

The challenge then is no longer how to ‘lift and shift’ applications. Rather it’s how to manage a fundamental change in how applications are built, deployed and operated. Complexity is the norm across the board in development, migration, modernisation and maintenance. And the increased pressure this puts on IT and operations teams has only intensified because of the pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic on cloud strategies

In recent months, we’ve seen cloud adoption accelerate in the face of COVID-19, as enterprises have had to embrace remote working and shift to digital-only strategies. During the height of the first wave, 47% of the UK’s workforce were working remotely. According to AppDynamics’ recent Agents of Transformation Report 2020, 95% of technologists say the technology priorities have changed for their organisation during the pandemic and 81% of technologists said that COVID-19 has created the biggest technology pressure for their organisation that they have ever experienced.  

Rapid transformation and fundamental changes in behaviour are forcing businesses to re-evaluate their cloud strategies. Enterprises have had to mobilise their entire workforce to operate remotely, using collaboration tools and software. This wouldn’t have been possible without the cloud. Retailers have had to find new ways to sell their products online, maintaining customer experience. Again, all made possible through the cloud.

While cloud has helped overcome many of the conundrums unearthed by the pandemic, it presents its own challenges. These increasing deployments of infrastructure and applications built for the cloud, coupled with a hybrid cloud landscape, means enterprises are struggling to keep up and therefore failing to fulfil their customers’ needs.

With an increase in IT spending there’s also a need, across the enterprise, to show how these newly implemented cloud-enabled, digital services are driving customer and business value. 

The power of observability and monitoring

The answer to this challenge is effective understanding and control of these multi- and hybrid-cloud apps and services. With the right hybrid-cloud management solution, enterprises can track performance and application status across sites and across platforms, including both public and private cloud platforms. Observability is important here because it provides the raw, granular data necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of complex and highly distributed systems. 

With industry-leading observability, cloud-management and on-premise solutions, organisations can maintain visibility across their application environment, from a browser session request to a backend database call. Because the management console sits as a layer of intelligence across all platforms — and allows businesses to combine data from and apply policies to any of those platforms — they’re not locked into any one cloud solution. They can choose whichever is best for the task at hand.

Perhaps even more importantly, businesses are able to identify how well the infrastructure supports the applications, identifying any bottlenecks and load issues, in real-time. This allows them to dynamically allocate resources and adjust workload placement to optimize performance and costs. This prevents poor performance which can lead to bad customer experience and lost sales. Observability provides validation and fine-grained understanding that highly distributed applications and systems work as they should.

Despite these advantages, fewer than 15% of enterprises implement holistic monitoring, something which — according to research by Gartner — risks putting the benefits expected from $255 billion of investments in cloud-based solutions at risk. With a combination of hybrid cloud monitoring and management, enterprises can successfully use the benefits of the cloud to react to changing demand quickly, to expand and scale as they need to and be as agile as the market demands.

Businesses are missing a trick. Monitoring is about understanding your business, its performance, areas to improve and potential issues. Observability offers deeper views into the technical details required by engineers. When enabled by cloud, the two form a symbiotic relationship, allowing for business scalability and flexibility. When a business doesn’t have effective monitoring and/or observability, across its entire IT landscape, the benefits of the cloud almost disappear.

About the Author

James Harvey is EMEA CTO at Cisco AppDynamics. Powered by Cisco, AppDynamics is on a mission to help companies see their technology through the lens of the business so they can work as one to prioritize what matters most. Today’s users demand frictionless digital experiences. But meeting their ever-rising expectations is difficult because modern architectures have become too complex for even their operators to fully comprehend. That’s why we’re delivering full-stack observability that helps you see, understand, and optimize what happens inside and beyond your architecture — all through the lens of business impact.

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