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Observability: Driving Digital Transformation in 2022 and Beyond

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Read more about author Spiros Xanthos.

In the last couple of years, we’ve seen rapid digital transformation take over with a large emphasis on cloud adoption. In 2022, we can expect this trend to continue, if not increase. The disruptions that spiked cloud adoption back in 2020 aren’t behind us just yet and many organizations still have modernization efforts that need to be put into place.

While there was an initial rush to the cloud as a means of dealing with COVID-19, continued progress will come with a more measured eye on data security and resource management in the new year. We all remember the mad dash during those early shutdowns, but most organizations saw the pandemic as an opportunity to do things they’d been wanting to do. Rather than invent whole new contingency plans on the fly, IT and DevOps leaders had the green light to move forward on existing transformation roadmaps.

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The ongoing acceleration of digital transformation has its challenges, particularly the sheer scale and importance of the undertaking. Here are some challenges we can expect this year around new and ongoing digital transformation trends, and how advanced observability can help.

The Missing Piece to Customer Experience Is Observability 

There was a time when early adopters of cloud services had a real advantage over competitors in terms of customer experience (CX). Now that cloud adoption is widespread, that competitive differentiator has become table stakes – observability.

The desire to understand the customer’s journey is inherently an observability problem. Understanding customer movement and leveraging data analytics to rapidly develop and test improvements depends on cloud infrastructure and fluid DevOps processes, as well as clear visibility into the way customers are interacting with systems. However, cloud providers’ native cloud tools don’t provide end-to-end visibility across multicloud and hybrid cloud. It’s what can be seen as a Catch-22: Observability becomes increasingly essential to CX because organizations are creating more complexity in the pursuit of better customer experience.

It’s clear that observability is the next battleground for CX, and observing, understanding, and acting on your organization’s data is where CX lives and dies. Customers respond to experiences that are fast, easy to understand, and aesthetically pleasing. The only way to perfect that experience is by observing everything – how quickly a page loads, whether they clicked a specific button, how all the services behind that web page and that button performed, etc. – across mobile and other platforms. That’s the most critical aspect of delivering CX, interpreting all the activity to understand whether the experience resonated with the customer, and why or why not.

AIOps and Observability: More Alike Than You Think 

Historically and culturally, AIOps and observability have been seen as distinct. However, organizations are quickly changing their tune as the inextricable connection between observability and AIOps is coming to light. Why is there this convergence of two previously separated practices? Well, DevOps teams require the same noise reduction and better recommendations that IT teams get through AIOps. 

Practitioners are finding that working with metrics, traces, and logs is all good and well, but the data from the complex systems in question is granular, low-level, and high-volume. If DevOps teams can’t see patterns and make diagnoses to prevent and remediate incidents, then it’s useless. With AIOps, teams can gain faster insights, better correlation, reduced noise, and automated responses.

Essentially, AIOps tools enable DevOps workflows. In 2022, teams will start working together and recognizing how centralized alerting and machine learning (ML) can help when something goes wrong. With ML, we’ll be able to semi-autonomously or autonomously route and direct alerts when critical issues occur. We’ll see more vendors explicitly join their observability message to an AIOps message as this dependence grows – the need for observability to feed AIOps to make it worthwhile and vice versa. This recognition of their inextricable intertwinedness will become commonplace in the new year and organizations will continue to adopt both to unlock true value. 

Take It to the Edge 

For years now, we’ve heard multiple conversations around the edge, but what was once a buzzword will finally hit its peak in 2022. The next multicloud is edge, and this year will usher in increased focus around analysis on the edge and observability on the edge.

Edge paradigms allow more computation to be done where the data is collected and have only a necessary selection of data moved to the core. In the wake of spiking digitalization, technology leaders are ready to obsess over this value of the edge to cut costs, preserve bandwidth, and lead to smarter, faster actions. While edge computing has plenty of current examples, such as self-driving cars, there may be a five-year curve until the edge becomes completely mainstream. The software doesn’t exist for all use cases, so even where you have the network capability and bandwidth, there’s still a need to get access to it and translate it, and that’s going to take time similar to the hardware roll out. In that time, the value of edge computing will become even more compelling as it expands, driven by the combination of 5G and fiber to the last mile. 

Building the edge, and keeping it running, won’t be easy, as almost any instance of edge computing can involve hundreds or thousands of endpoints. With this, security and observability won’t be simple one-click challenges. As the power of the edge expands and stronger use cases continue to grow, observability will become more imperative to achieving advanced visibility across it – and the importance of this role will only grow in the future. 

The Future Keeps Getting Faster  

Fast is the new slow, and the cloud delivers essential scale, resilience, and capacity to innovate quickly, though it’s anything but simple. While every organization will have to deal with its own specific set of challenges in the new year, the broad challenge will be adopting and managing complex hybrid and multicloud infrastructure and the fast-changing applications sprawling across it. Observability is the essential ingredient in getting the performance and CX promised by continued cloud transformation, and adoption will be critical for success. 

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