Get the edge on enterprise visibility: Invest in full stack observability

Johannesburg, 03 Aug 2023
Brett Orwin, Managing Executive: Technology, Nexio.
Brett Orwin, Managing Executive: Technology, Nexio.

It's 2am – do you know what your technology estate is doing? For that matter, do you know at 9am, 2pm or any given time? You might think so, pointing to the alerts and reports from different appliances and applications. Yet is that visibility or just monitoring? And do they make your job easier through automation and machine intelligence?

If you have full stack observability, yes.

But many enterprises do not enjoy such benefits. IT professionals consider visibility one of their biggest problems – whether measured by overall visibility, the proliferation of unsanctioned shadow IT applications or security risks due to complex and layered estates.

This issue has become especially pressing as companies expand into decentralised technologies such as cloud services. But it's been around, evident through business silos, scattered data and legacy infrastructure.

"Very few organisations have visibility into their on-premises architecture and cloud-native environments," says Brett Orwin, Nexio's Managing Executive of Technology. "The use of legacy tools and the lack of interoperability of these tools has become problematic since it is now incredibly difficult to understand and manage application dependencies, and infrastructure visibility and management."

Full stack observability's benefits

Monitoring systems is not a new practice. But while the principle is sound, implementations have fallen behind. An enterprise typically relies on various independent monitoring tools. As an estate's complexity evolves, these tools cause two specific problems.

They don't share common reporting or data standards, making it hard to identify issues and inefficiencies impacting several systems, says Orwin: "The problem with most dedicated monitoring tools is that they lack the full fidelity capabilities of an observability tool. Observability is not just logs, metrics and traces. AI and machine learning enable organisations to evolve from pure monitoring to full visibility and onwards to observability. The net effect is that applications and systems are managed with true business outcomes in mind, not just simple reactive management or monitoring of these systems."

Monitoring as a practice is limited. "Monitoring provides a basic level of visibility into a system, while visibility provides a more comprehensive view of performance behaviour. Observability takes this even further by emphasising the need to understand the internal workings of a system to improve its overall performance and reliability. "

Full stack observability is an independent platform that discovers and probes devices and applications across on-premises, branch, remote and cloud domains. It operates agnostically, using APIs and other methods to query practically any device. Administrators can then tailor contextual reporting based on frequency, alert type and intended audience. They can also automate responses and focus on problem areas.

Getting full stack value

The prime rule of business is to know your books. Success is not just about buying or selling – it's about balance. Knowing what's happening in a business's accounts is how leaders plan the way forward. Full stack observability is the same in concept, focused on your IT systems.

You can start small: introduce the platform, integrate with certain core services and then expand coverage. To get a constant return on investment, Orwin recommends the following steps:

  • Use discovery tools to get a deeper understanding and visibility into the entire IT environment.
  • Eliminate monitoring tool sprawl by adding appliances and applications to the full stack observability platform.
  • Break down silos among teams by providing contextual reporting.
  • Talk to system owners and stakeholders to see what they need regarding reporting and observation.
  • Optimise resources and cost by consolidating reporting and monitoring tools into one full stack observability platform, then remove unnecessary licences and services.
  • Improve troubleshooting by using the full stack observability's machine learning and automation features.
  • Improve application security by spotting misconfigurations, running regular inspections and generating reports reflecting the needs of security teams.

Your current monitoring tools aren't delivering value. They are too fractured, isolated and ill-suited to integrated enterprise technologies. Even if they all work, the resulting alerts can overwhelm teams, and the reporting data can take weeks to unify.

Full stack observability is the modern answer.

"Full stack observability fills in blind spots and provides IT teams with complete visibility across all of an application's components, performance metrics and dependencies, including those outside their control," says Orwin. "It helps them better understand IT behaviour, performance and health. It allows enterprises to break the operational silos and get deeper actionable insights."