IT Operations Monitoring, Evolved

Data & Analysis

The shift to remote was an unprecedented challenge for most enterprises and businesses. IT operations had to ramp up quickly to maintain processes and workflows. Monitoring tools play a crucial role in enabling ITOps to do everything they need to analyze and resolve incidents quickly. According to Gartner, “many enterprises, especially those that have or are currently undergoing a digital transformation, now see monitoring as an essential function for business continuity, and COVID-19 is accelerating this trend.”

Gartner’s Strategic Roadmap for IT Operations Monitoring states that an IT monitoring strategy must “achieve pragmatic observability, detecting relationships and dependencies impacting digital business applications and customer experience (CX) by analyzing telemetry from the full-stack — shared and in-context.” IT monitoring strategies require an overhaul to keep up with the evolving digital landscape. Infrastructure and operations (I&O) leaders should re-evaluate monitoring strategies to ensure it is still relevant and effective in 2021. A modern monitoring solution is integral to such a strategy.

In this article, we discuss two important aspects to consider when evaluating ITOps monitoring strategy:

  • Observability in ITOps: A unified monitoring approach across different teams (SREs, DevOps, SecOps, ITOps).
  • Holistic monitoring: Overcome monitoring visibility gaps and correlate business outcomes with digital experience.

Observability and ITOps Monitoring

There are many approaches to monitoring. What is important to note, is that it is not enough to only monitor infrastructure or application uptime. Such an approach creates too many visibility gaps that leave different teams scrambling when systems go down.

Instead, observability is the key to ensuring digital business continuity. Observability ties together performance metrics from a variety of data sources at different levels of the application delivery chain (Fig 1). This allows you to better understand the link between the system’s internal state and external outputs.  

Fig 1

Companies invest in monitoring tools to gain some level of visibility into the infrastructure and other application components. That said, the current state of IT monitoring is a mix of specific monitoring tools for specific teams. The different toolsets focus on the different parts of the infrastructure, network, and applications. The disparity between the tools used by ITOps, DevOps, SecOps, and other teams within an organization can be a roadblock to monitoring maturity.

The tool sprawl across organizations leads to technical debt, security risks, and conflicting performance insights. ITOps must implement observability practices to overcome the gaps in their monitoring strategies. A monitoring strategy that focuses on observability will align DevOps, SecOps, and application development teams to achieve the same goal: improved digital experience.

A unified and observable strategy makes it easier to analyze data from multiple sources. Moreover, with a strong observability strategy, incident management becomes more efficient, and identifying trends and detecting anomalies become quicker as well.

In addition to investing in best-of-breed monitoring solutions, ITOps must:

  • Proactively monitor customer journeys and include metrics that go beyond availability to ensure products/service quality and maintain a positive customer experience.
  • Prioritize incident resolution with a relevant dashboard that tracks performance and business KPIs in real-time.
  • Ensure different toolsets and back-end systems can integrate seamlessly with each other, so people can leverage the data to build a consolidated dashboard that can be used across the organization.
  • Monitor the CI/CD cycle, capturing release data to create a feedback loop between customer experience and backend. Monitoring the preproduction environment helps find automation opportunities for DevOps processes.

Holistic IT Monitoring

Modern digital environments are increasingly complex, with different components and processes handling huge volumes of data. From containers to hybrid cloud services, developers rely on a host of different technologies to build and deliver applications that can scale with changing digital needs. Monitoring strategies need to evolve along with the changing digital landscape. A “fuller-stack” monitoring approach that takes into account the infrastructure, network, device data, and even user sentiment is needed to maintain digital experience.

Organizations should leverage holistic monitoring solutions that help achieve a level of monitoring maturity where monitoring does not stop at “is it up?” A mature monitoring strategy (Fig 2) evaluates the different application components, infrastructure, and external dependencies, correlating the digital experience metrics with business KPIs to optimize and improve processes and application delivery.

Fig 2

The shift to a remote workforce forced enterprises to rethink monitoring strategies. Most enterprises now view monitoring as a vital function to ensure not just end-user experience but also employee productivity. Monitoring solutions need to ingest and analyze new data sources and larger data volumes and deploy new forms of automation. Enterprises understand that the need to evaluate performance and availability against actual business outcomes requires a modern holistic monitoring solution.

APM vendors are likely to overhaul the current application monitoring model – that of a black box agent –  and adopt OpenTelemetry [1], OpenMetrics [2], and automation. The focus will be on data analytics, data correlation, and business outcomes, rather than just application health checks.

ITOps will need to invest in a monitoring solution that:

  • Ingests data from multiple sources: user sentiment from social media, business KPIs, service delivery chain components, web analytics, etc.
  • Offers advanced data analytics, correlating telemetry on digital experience and business outcomes.
  • Drives automation for more effective and faster incident management.
  • Eliminates silos and visibility gaps between DevOps and SecOps with a unified, best-of-breed platform.

[1]OpenTelemetry, a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project that standardizes distributed tracing. [2]OpenMetrics(from Prometheus), another important CNCF project, is used for the analysis of time series data.

Enhance ITOps Monitoring With Catchpoint

The impact of COVID-19 has confirmed the essential nature of IT monitoring for both employees (internal) and digital business (external). However, I&O leaders struggle to translate the results of operations monitoring for remote work into successful business objectives. AIOps used in production environments has mostly failed to meet unrealistic expectations of self-healing and remediation capabilities.

In the 2021 Strategic Roadmap for IT Operations Monitoring, Gartner outlines the global, technological, and business drivers that will shape the ITOps landscape and drive market growth for monitoring solutions in the year ahead. Gartner reports, “Many enterprises, especially those that have or are currently undergoing a digital transformation, now see monitoring as an essential function for business continuity.” The image below (Fig 3) outlines the essential components to focus on when evaluating the current state of your business’ ITOps monitoring.

Fig 3

Maintaining and delivering a great employee end-user experience is one such essential function for business continuity. True success in this arena it is possible only when your ITOps team is equipped with the right tools. Catchpoint provides the basic components your ITOps team needs to achieve the future state of ITOps monitoring.

Catchpoint IT Monitoring is:

  • Unified, holistic, and agile: A single platform with multiple monitoring methodologies that can be used across different teams within the organization and provides visibility into every layer of the application. Evaluate the performance of every critical component – from DNS and CDN to BGP and API.
  • Intelligent and business-focused: Intuitive dashboards and data analytics that allows you to break down specific metrics, identify historic trends, and correlate data to answer questions around performance impact and business growth. Improve troubleshooting capabilities by integrating Catchpoint workflows, notifications, and benchmarks, with popular third-party DevOps tools.

ITOps can utilize the diverse monitoring capabilities offered by Catchpoint as part of their observability practices. Catchpoint has helped our customers focus on building a more holistic monitoring strategy that redefines how SREs, DevOps, SecOps, and ITOps teams work together, making each team more efficient and productive.

Published on
March 9, 2021
, updated on
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