Overcoming IT Complexity With Full-Stack Observability

By Thomas LaRock, Head Geek, SolarWinds

Organizations embarking on digital transformation journeys tend to develop complex infrastructures. They update their legacy applications while adding multi-cloud, virtual, and cloud-native capabilities. Eventually, IT pros find themselves managing diverse, complex, and distributed networks, including cloud, system, application, and database infrastructures.

To rein in the resulting complexity, organizations tend to amass monitoring and managing tools. The goal is to simplify systems oversight—but instead, silos tend to develop because teams use a wide variety of tools to manage their networks or infrastructures.

This piecemeal approach worsens operational blind spots and delays problem resolution. It also increases security exposures. Soon, overwhelmed IT pros can’t keep pace with app modernization or infrastructure dynamics because they’re awash in complexity.

Though this scenario is common, it’s not inevitable. IT teams can ease their digital transformation journey by implementing an integrated and cost-effective full-stack, end-to-end monitoring service capable of overcoming complexity and silos.

Organizations require full-stack observability.

How Observability Differs From Traditional Monitoring

Observability goes beyond traditional monitoring. Traditional monitoring helps IT organizations understand the actual state of their infrastructure and applications. It captures and processes volumes of infrastructure and application telemetry data and notifications and displays which components are up, which ones are down, and which ones have changed.

Usually, traditional monitoring focuses on a specific network, cloud, or infrastructure. It tracks application and infrastructure elements so IT pros can identify anomalies and investigate problems as they arise.

Monitoring relies on metrics-oriented dashboards built to assess telemetry data against manual or basic statistically relevant thresholds. Monitoring tools are invaluable, but they don’t offer cross-domain correlation, service delivery insight, operational dependencies, or predictability. Modern systems have complex multi-cloud environments and a deluge of telemetry data: this counts as a shortfall.

Observability does more. It measures the internal states of systems by examining the outputs and looks at applications and systems in their entirety—from the end-user experience to server-side metrics and logs.

But observability also includes monitoring as a critical element. To gain observability, you must first collect information through monitoring. Observability uses the insights and metrics generated through monitoring to understand what’s causing the issue at hand.

Monitoring aggregates and displays the data to determine whether the systems are operating as expected. The analysis of this information is compared with expected outcomes and objectives. This allows IT pros to understand the state of their infrastructure and applications.

Silos are thus avoided because complex environments are viewed in their entirety.

Observability in Action

Once in place, observability allows IT organizations to continuously improve performance, availability, and digital experience across complex, diverse, and distributed hybrid and cloud environments.

With observability, organizations can quickly find and resolve anomalies. However, full-stack observability goes beyond monitoring and expedited problem resolution: it supplies insights, automated analytics, and actionable intelligence through cross-domain data correlation, machine learning (ML), and artificial intelligence for IT operations (AIOps). It works across massive real-time and historical metrics, logs, and trace data.

Observability goes beyond the silos and the piecemeal approach associated with traditional monitoring. And when observability isn’t limited—when it includes ML and AIOps—it utilizes the large volume of gathered data and supplies insights, automated analytics, and actionable intelligence to help IT staff expedite problem resolution. It also enables ITOps, DevOps, and security organizations to achieve consistent, optimized, and predictable business service delivery with continuously improved digital experience and IT productivity.

The result is customers and employees benefit from better-run systems. The technology provides organizations of all sizes and industries with comprehensive, integrated, and cost-effective functionality through cloud-connected on-premises or software as a service (SaaS) deployment flexibility.

When embarking on digital transformation journeys, organizations don’t need further complexity—certainly not while they update legacy applications and add a plethora of modern services and capabilities to their stack. The key to reducing complexity is observability.

Observability simplifies the transformation process. It reduces operational noise to benefit ITOps, DevOps, and security teams. They can become more proactive in issue and anomaly detection to achieve optimum IT performance, compliance, and resilience. With full-stack observability, any organization—no matter its size or industry—can reduce IT complexity while readying itself for digital transformation.

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