The battle among consumer brands to gain market share by focusing on the experience customers have in accessing their products and services is quickly reaching into the enterprise arena, whereby hybrid workers expect the capability of their IT services to be identical wherever they are. As these expectations increase, Cisco has undertaken a tech preview of its Full-Stack Observability Platform in what amounts to a preview of how it aims to allow firms to deliver the required digital experiences by staff, customers and partners alike.
Scheduled for general availability in June 2023, Cisco Full-Stack Observability is designed to allow teams to bring together telemetry data from their own context and drive correlated insights across the entire IT estate, whether they are DevOps engineers, site reliability engineers (SREs), cloud ops, ITOps, line of business or members of the C-suite.
Moreover, the system is attributed with allowing performance impact and experience tracing to be seen through the lens of network issues and security vulnerabilities with artificial intelligence (AI)-driven root cause analysis viewed in any type of infrastructure and any multi-cloud configuration. Cisco assures that analysis will then be tied to business context so teams can identify, prioritise, resolve and even predict issues before they impact the end user and business.
Explaining the rationale for the launch of such a product at Cisco Live 2023, the company was confident, and said it will enable new and custom use cases by enriching capabilities, extending services and creating value-added offerings including tools for augmenting business processes.
It added that unlike data lakes, the new service is driven by use cases and business context that are directly calibrated to specific business outcomes rather than simply querying data itself. It offered as an example the ability to integrate business transactions and correlate with IT signals, a differentiated capability from the existing AppDynamics set, now a foundational element of the Cisco Full-Stack Observability Platform.
“Organisations demand more integration points to understand what potential problems and vulnerabilities exist and how to fix them before they impact the company and send customers looking for a better experience somewhere else,” said Liz Centoni, executive vice-president, chief strategy officer and general manager of applications.
“Cisco Full-Stack Observability delivers insights with real business context – that’s critical in a world where ‘experience’ is the new KPI [key performance indicator].”
For Mohit Lad, manager and co-founder of Cisco ThousandEyes, the observability offering can be seen in a change in the way in which traditional network monitoring has taken place and the way in which teams have operated.
“Typically, you have different teams coming together, like the network team and the app team infrastructure, and the only objective they usually have is to prove that ‘it’s not me’. You can very, very quickly figure out what is not the problem, but how to figure out what is the problem? That’s the philosophy mindset.
“A couple of things are really important in how we’ve approached this, and one is the need to be able to see past your borders and be able to understand the entire picture. And then it’s all about making sure that the product and the technology and the thinking is designed around connecting people across organisations.”
Said to be built to address “massive” scale and performance, the Full-Stack Observability Platform allows organisations to spawn an application ecosystem built on the open, extensible architecture. Full-Stack Observability brings together telemetry data – metrics, events, logs and traces (Melt) driven by the OpenTelemetry open source observability framework – which has made possible the ability to normalise ingestion of data in near-real time or real time. OpenTelemetry offers supplier-neutral application programming interfaces and other tools for collecting data from cloud-native and third-party applications, and supporting infrastructure to understand performance and threats.
As an example of the type of company that would provide a good example of how gaining enriched network visibility can result in a better internal and external customer experience, Centoni cited UK airline EasyJet.
“They have EasyJet.com, and when you go into it in terms of an application, they have operations in the back end such as how they schedule their crews and their own [internal business processes], things we don’t see, and they need to bring all of this together, and how do they do that? But [customers] just expect [the airline website] to work, and when it doesn’t, we all feel we’re not happy about it in the experience,” she said.
“They want visibility from everything … but they also need visibility on the network side on the back end [as regards] connectivity, and on the security side for the security-monitoring piece. They might be using a cloud service from any of the big cloud providers. They might be using SaaS [software as a service] or authentication for payment. They might not build their own payment service – they might be leveraging somebody else’s. But you don’t [know what] all comes together to build that application.”
Lad notes that observability is not new, and that where Cisco has extended it out is from going from passive to active monitoring to see if something is right and discover how it impacts the application experience in the experience economy.
“Let’s take the example of a large financial organisation with about 30,000 customers,” he said. “They have got everything from retail to commercial, institutional to private banking. And what they’re up against is a set of really nimble competitors who have come in in the age of banks that don’t have bricks and mortar disrupting their business. They have digitised their front end. Financial customers [are now] adopting full stack observability because of exactly that reason, wanting to make sure that they’re disrupting their own way of business.”