Using Observability to Guide Your Digital Transformation

In the early days of computing, operations were confined to the data center, with a single server handling it all, making the administrator’s job of monitoring and managing these computing environments relatively straightforward.

Obviously, the landscape has changed dramatically. Today IT organizations are transforming in ways that create more complex IT environments. They must manage application and data hosted in legacy data centers and public cloud and multi-cloud environments, along with all of the underlying infrastructure.

The application landscape has also changed, which adds to this complexity. Applications are being refactored to run as microservices in a new, containerized paradigm, where the failure of even a single service among hundreds or thousands can significantly degrade overall performance. To maintain the level of visibility and monitoring required to deliver the experience end users expect, IT organizations must understand how to properly instrument newly introduced applications and services for modern environments.

As organizations move forward with modernization initiatives and embrace rapid application development practices, their progress is often slowed because they lack the skills, tools, and processes needed to manage this complexity. For their transformation journeys to ultimately be successful, a focus on observability is required.

What is Observability? 

Today’s IT operators must be able to take data and use it to improve performance, availability, and other key business metrics. IT organizations traditionally have monitored systems and applications through metrics and logs that are often not linked in any way. Observability is the process of bringing together all of the data from these disparate systems, services and applications by discovering and linking dependencies.

But observability goes beyond the monitoring and collection of metrics around IT assets. It is a set of principles that leverage people, process, and technology to gather data that will enable positive business outcomes. Observability is not a replacement for traditional availability and performance monitoring data collection, but the next logical step in this evolution.

In your environment, you probably have a laundry list of monitoring tools that are built for specific tasks. You are collecting data—lots of it, most likely—but what are you doing with this critical information? By putting the right capabilities and automated processes in place, your enterprise can proactively manage system and application performance, improve system uptime, and achieve business objectives.

Observability can also be directly tied to revenue and risk aversion. A properly instrumented IT environment provides insights into system performance. For an e-commerce site, for example, poor system performance can quickly send your customers to your competitor’s site.

Identifying those types of issues early on, before they are problems, can mitigate that risk and protect revenue.

Getting Started With Observability 

Rather than focusing on specific tools and developing a solution around them, the most important element of any successful observability initiative is establishing and articulating a clear, desired outcome at the outset.

The experienced Evolving Solutions team engages with clients across industries to maximize their observability strategies to align with the desired outcomes. Our approach generally starts with an assessment, typically with an organization’s application, infrastructure, or security teams—basically the IT operations people who manage the systems and solve problems.

From there, we examine the process flow by getting an inventory of the tools that are in place and how they are used within applications, infrastructure, and security. Rightsizing tools and ensuring that their use is aligned with business outcomes enables organizations to make better decisions.

As organizations begin to evolve their observability strategies, automation is the next logical step. We can help identify the tasks that can be easily automated—restarting services, restarting servers, etc.—to keep the IT environment up and running.

The Observability Journey

As a result of these meetings and interactions, a roadmap that is unique to the characteristics, needs, and goals of each organization is established. This roadmap guides the transformative journey.

There are processes to be implemented with modernization, as well as a set of practices that need to be established. The challenge at hand is for organizations to holistically assess the skills they have and then acquire the additional skills needed to adapt to these new technologies.

Again, it is a journey, and each journey is unique. Think about these questions:

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What are your goals?
  • What are the steps needed to achieve those goals?

With the answers to these questions as a starting point, your stakeholders can then start connecting the dots and moving forward with observability into your organization’s digital transformation.

Contact us to get started at [email protected].

Michael Downs

Chief Technology Officer

Michael is the Chief Technology Officer at Evolving Solutions and joined the company in 2014. Connect with Michael on LinkedIn here.

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