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Network Apr 18, 2021

How to see through today’s IT complexity

By Adrian Comley Senior manager managed network services, BT

Without complete visibility inside your IT environment, you’re working with blind spots so when it comes to identifying issues with applications performance your average time to resolve will soar.

The days when most critical apps and services were neatly contained in the data centre, and IT had full control over the app stack, network and infrastructure have long gone.

Organisations are grappling with the most complex IT ecosystems ever. Software applications are more dynamic, complex and widely distributed over many systems and IT resources than ever before. And the application architecture is changing rapidly, too, as businesses move to the cloud to seek agility, cost reductions and support a broader remit on digital transformation. More and more of the IT stack relies on rising numbers of distributed architectures, systems and third parties which are outside of your control.

Technologists are finding it hard right now: 81% say the pandemic has created the biggest technology pressure for their organisation that they have ever experienced.

For too many organisations, this complexity creep has pushed them to the point where the IT teams have so many systems to manage, they’re firefighting all the time, maxed out with continual security patching and software updates. There’s no time to carry out projects with new or more value for the business.

And issues with app performance can be met with wasteful finger-pointing. The network guys looking to the cloud team, the cloud guys looking to the app developers – and so it goes on, as the mean time to resolution (MTTR) metrics just go up and up. The result? Long-lasting, significant and often critical problems impacting business operations, end-user experience, customer satisfaction, the brand and even the bottom line.

The four key areas where you need visibility within your organisation

Getting visibility within your applications’ full stack is critical to being able to support all the functionality you want to offer your employees and customers. I recommend you focus on four key areas:

1. Application performance monitoring

Without application performance monitoring, you don’t have the visibility of how your applications are built and performing, and you won’t be able to identify and fix issues quickly in your multi-cloud app environment. Your IT team is working blind: for instance, whether there’s a bug in your code, a database request wasn’t developed correctly or a faulty third-party webservice, they can’t pinpoint it, and fix it in good time.

2. End user monitoring

You need to monitor the user experience of your web applications and websites and to provide visibility across your IT stack so you can quickly solve web application performance issues and monitor where and how your customers connect with your organisation. This is a crucial part of optimising your key business transactions and keeping your users’ experience smooth and easy.

3. Infrastructure monitoring

As you add databases, servers and third-party services and you adopt more distributed architectures into your IT application stack, the complexity of your infrastructure shoots up, making it harder to identify the source of issues. Infrastructure monitoring lets you monitor the health of your infrastructure, drill down into its components, benchmark them and troubleshoot issues before they affect your customers.

4. Cloud monitoring

Moving to the cloud and using externally hosted databases changes the DNA of your application stack and forces you to rethink established ways of operating. Cloud monitoring provides assurance, allowing you to test and benchmark your applications’ behaviour pre- and post-cloud migrations. You can then continuously monitor your cloud resources and how they support your applications.  This is particularly important, because it can be difficult to get the information you need directly from cloud providers or when you have multi-cloud strategies.

With visibility come real-time business insights

With these four key areas of visibility in place across your applications’ environment, you’ll be able to use real-time monitoring to see and understand the impact of your applications’ performance directly on your organisation. And you can break down the user journey and assign values to different stages to work out direct business costs.
For example, I was working with a customer that was having problems with their ecommerce app: the payment stage was taking too long, and customers were dropping out of sales before paying. They were able to use the visibility they’d built into their application’s environment to test the update they’d developed, so they could identify and fix issues much more quickly. They were also able to put a figure on the cost of app failure and poor app performance.

The future is clear

To help you monitor your applications’ performance, get visibility into your application stack and deal with the complexity creep, we’ve recently added AppDynamics from our partner, Cisco, to our product portfolio. It’s great for monitoring your internal and business critical apps and provides real-time app monitoring to detect issues, track performance, as well as collect and analyse metrics.

AppDynamics joins another recent portfolio addition that focuses on visibility, ThousandEyes. These two Cisco monitoring tools work together to give you end-to-end visibility. AppDynamics captures data inside your IT environment and connects seamlessly to ThousandEyes, that captures data as it travels outside your environment via SaaS applications or across the internet.

To find out more about how you can use AppDynamics to increase visibility in your organisation, please get in touch with your account manager.