Observability, Infrastructure Complexity, and Shifting Left


Observability helps organizations manage the increasing complexity of technology infrastructures and shift left to deal with the tech talent shortage.

Unified Observability is different from other tech markets. Most have cooled with the worry of a looming recession. But observability budgets are expected to increase in the next few years. A worldwide survey of more than 1,400 executives conducted by research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) in 2022 showed that more than 50% of respondents indicated their observability budgets would increase over the next two years. Thirty percent indicated an increase of 25% or more.

The flow of money is another indicator. Venture Capitalists are still heavily investing funds into observability startups, and established companies (IBM, Cisco) are acquiring smaller players to expand their observability offering. Why?

Unified Observability has become a business requirement. Unified Observability helps organizations manage the increasing complexity of their technology infrastructures, particularly as the volume of data they process continues to grow significantly. But more importantly, observability aligns with the growing desire of organizations to redirect their IT staff from performing tactical duties to strategic responsibilities such as predictive modeling, infrastructure optimization, and other endeavors.

See also: Report: Observability More Important Than Ever

Unified Observability and Shifting Left

The “shift left” enabled by observability not only improves network performance but also pushes along business objectives, as senior IT leaders are able to focus on solving problems that can have a material impact on a company’s bottom line.

The concept of shift left isn’t new. For example, with the DevOps model, shift left means testing code earlier in the development process and then at all remaining stages to discover bugs when they are easier and less costly to repair. In NetOps, shift left means allowing additional staff to take on troubleshooting responsibilities without having to escalate problems to the experts.

Shift left for NetOps can lead to significant benefits, such as enhancing IT satisfaction levels by enabling junior staff to work on issues while taking the burden off IT experts. Many organizations rely on a small number of highly skilled IT professionals to troubleshoot complex issues. These individuals typically have wide technical and institutional knowledge, which puts them in high demand.

When these experts get pulled into troubleshooting efforts that are not part of their main job, they are pulled away from strategic projects, and this can lead to project delays and cost overruns. Given the difficulties of hiring and retaining skilled and experienced technology professionals, companies can ill afford to misuse or lose these valuable resources.

Other benefits of shift left include improving IT efficiency by solving problems sooner in the process rather than waiting until they escalate and increasing productivity by enabling IT experts to focus on revenue-generating projects.

Improved MTTR

Unified Observability helps the shift left to improve mean time to recovery (MTTR) and first-level resolution rates. It delivers faster MTTR and higher first-level resolution rates by isolating the source of a delay to a client device, a network, or a backend system, quickly drilling down to investigate the cause.

Organizations can swiftly diagnose and resolve issues that can impact user experience. They can analyze the common characteristics of users who are experiencing the same problem to identify the likely cause. Organizations have been able to reduce service desk ticket volume by 15% and MTTR by 24% using observability.

One of the biggest benefits of Unified Observability is that it adds automation to the process of observing IT performance. At many companies, especially smaller ones, IT teams are limited in resources. At the same time, networks have become many times more complex, and the rate of complexity is growing. The difficulty of managing the growing complexity with limited human resources can only be addressed through automation.

Another benefit of Unified Observability is that it helps to reduce alert fatigue. Today’s IT environments are much more complex than in the past, with immensely more data and alerts to contend with. Most monitoring alerts provide little context to guide the troubleshooting process.

For some companies, it has become impossible to manually investigate every alert. Others turn alerting off altogether and hope nothing troublesome happens. It is difficult for IT to separate critical events from the noise, to identify events that can impact the business, or to resolve incidents quickly.

Automating Common Tasks

Observability tools are so powerful today because they can leverage the latest artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data analytics capabilities. This enables them to identify subtle and interdependent causes of application performance issues and provide more complete diagnostic data that can help solve problems more quickly and effectively.

Even better, the tools can proactively detect anomalies and resolve issues before they can have an impact on business. They can detect unsuspected issues with pattern recognition based on performance correlations to identify groups of related transactions and metrics and quickly find the precise cause of an incident.

Time to Shift

There’s never been a more important time to leverage Unified Observability solutions. With the growing complexity of IT infrastructures, the increase in the amount of data being processed, and the need to optimize existing IT staff, organizations need to create strategies that take advantage of observability and shift left.

The shift left enabled by observability not only enhances network performance but also advances business objectives as senior IT leaders can focus on the issues that have a material impact on the bottom line.

Heidi Gabrielson

About Heidi Gabrielson

Heidi Gabrielson is product marketing director for the Alluvio by Riverbed business going on 11 years. She is dedicated to educating customer and sales teams on the benefits of Unified Observability and network performance management (NPM).

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