Monitoring and Observability to Play a Key Role in Digital Success in 2021

Charlotte Dunlap – Principal Analyst, Application Platforms

Summary Bullets:

• Monitoring and observability are being added to the DevOps arsenal of innovations alongside low-code and intelligent automation

• Early thought-leaders likely to integrate observability into platform services include: Red Hat, IBM, Datadog, Dynatrace, and AppDynamics

This year, more than ever, enterprises will need to pick and choose those key platform services most relevant to supporting app modernization which in turn helps accelerate digitization to combat the effects of a global pandemic and economic fallout. Observability systems will play a significant role in digitization of businesses.

Monitoring and observability technologies such as application performance management (APM) have taken a backseat in the cloud’s evolution in recent years to more important breakthroughs such as Kubernetes containerization, cluster management, and low-code app development platforms. Now, operations teams are on a path of DevOps initiatives, assembling the components necessary for an application lifecycle management (ALM) approach based on cloud-native and hybrid cloud IT models. As part of that strategy, the concept of monitoring, tracing, and visibility are becoming highly relevant parts of the cloud’s value chain.

This is especially true in a pandemic era, when business transformations are happening at accelerated speeds. In fact, some technology executives have noted that transformations that took companies two years to undergo in the past have been fast-tracked to two months. While such exceptional operational restructuring is impressive, it also introduces the opportunity for major software bugs, security breaches, and application and infrastructure performance bottlenecks.

Vendors are being pressed to respond to accelerated digitization through agile app development/deployment solutions, consolidated platforms leveraging low-code front-ends and automated backend integrations, and – increasingly – technology that performs observability for the inevitable problems associated with aggressive cloud deployment scenarios. As a result, GlobalData predicts that observability systems will be more tightly integrated into platform services in 2021. (Please see 2021 Predictions for the Enterprise: Cloud Computing, December 30, 2020).

Based largely on progress made in the open source software (OSS) community, a number of observability-related technologies have sprung up in the past year. The most popular among them represent the fastest path to filling out vendor roadmaps and customer expectations for improved monitoring and visibility of application modernization progress. Leading OSS technologies include Prometheus (monitoring), OpenTracing and Jaeger (tracing), Grafana (visibility), Kafka (distributed streaming), and Kiali (service mesh).

In the new year, application platforms and cloud providers will unveil new monitoring stacks leveraging these technologies as part of PaaS and SaaS offerings, helping site reliability engineers (SREs) and operational engineers involved in business transformations. This is a natural next step following 2020’s progress in Kubernetes containerization and clusters. For example, enterprise developers will seek out solutions providing better integrated visibility into connectivity issues between microservices, including insight into throughput and memory/disk space consumption.

Notable thought-leaders in this space include Red Hat, IBM, Datadog, Dynatrace, New Relic, and AppDynamics.

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