We all know the technology landscape has become extremely complex, as modern applications are built to scale with cloud native technologies, microservices and containerized components, leveraging an extensive web of legacy components, third-party services, and application programming interfaces.
Consequently, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for operations and IT teams to quickly identify and remediate application performance issues before they adversely impact user experiences and business outcomes. Traditional, domain-centric monitoring tools were not built for this level of diversity and dynamicity of modern applications and often cannot provide the required end-to-end visibility of the entire application ecosystem.
This has driven the need for full-stack observability (FSO).
In this light, recently I had the opportunity to chat with Andy Bow and Jason Pfeifer, Executive Tech Strategists at CDW, to learn their perspectives on building an FSO practice at a Cisco partner.
Brink: Can you share a little about CDW’s vision and the building blocks of starting an FSO practice?
Jason: CDW focuses on how we can assist our customers in achieving their business outcomes, driving more collaboration across the customer’s organization, and accelerating the people, process, and technology evolution customers are trying to achieve.
Brink: What are the key components to CDW’s FSO practice?
Andy: it starts with understanding the lay of the land. Who are your ecosystem vendors? What skillsets and capabilities already exist within our organization? What are the use cases and solutions we’re trying to take to market? These are just some of the initial questions we asked ourselves.
Next, dedicate a practice! Don’t try to force fit products into existing practices, especially given observability, which by its nature crosses domains. Then start simple and expand from there.
In our case, we started with AppDynamics and ThousandEyes, and then expanded into the ecosystem. Once we had our strategy in place, we could start executing our go-to-market and enablement strategies to scale across CDW and Cisco.
Brink: What have you discovered are the customer’s needs and wants around Full Stack Observability?
Jason: To start, FSO is really focused on operations. If you ask any enterprise customer where their biggest pain point is, it’s probably going to be something related to operations. So, getting from a reactive state to a proactive state is almost always item number one.
Andy: Additionally, FSO enables us to focus on helping our customers achieve their business outcomes, which are more and more provided through business services delivered digitally through applications. FSO also helps drive increased collaboration across the customer’s organization. The other important point to understand is that FSO is becoming more of a “need to have” vs. a “nice to have” as businesses become more digital.
So, by creating a strategy around AIOps and FSO, we create huge opportunities for both Cisco and CDW. This translates into increased revenue from the different products in the stack, as well as incremental CDW service opportunities. For example, there becomes the need for integration services bringing in additional ecosystem partners, in addition to providing advisory services as customers lean on CDW’s expertise and guidance.
Brink: Can you click into the integration service opportunity a bit more?
Andy: Sure, a big part of implementing FSO is the data architecture. You’re essentially aggregating and correlating data from multiple consumers and providers to offer a more precise view of what’s influencing the health of an application or business service. Most customers utilize multiple platforms from different vendors that can participate in this data architecture. So, ultimately deploying an FSO strategy requires the integration of these consumers and providers, which can be a huge value-add revenue opportunity for any partner.
Brink: I understand why a customer’s FSO strategy is crucial to its success, but why partner with Cisco to build out customer FSO initiatives?
Andy: Let’s start with AppDynamics. Clearly application performance monitoring is a key component of an FSO stack and AppD is consistently recognized as a leading APM platform in the industry. In addition, Cisco continues to evolve the AppD platform to maintain its leadership position in the industry.
Jason: Next, there’s ThousandEyes, which provides visibility into areas of the network the customer doesn’t control, like the Internet. Cisco’s out-of-the-box integration of AppDynamics and ThousandEyes provides a type of visibility that no other vendor in the market can provide.
Andy: Then there’s the tremendous opportunity for further integrations that Cisco is no doubt working on across the broader portfolio of platforms like Intersight, Nexus Dashboard, DNA, and SD-WAN to name a few.
With many of these out-of-the-box integrations coming from Cisco, it makes it much easier for partners like CDW to deploy FSO solutions to our customers.
Now, it’s true that without these out-of-the-box integrations, there’s opportunity for CDW to create these integration services for our customers, but this just makes delivering the solution that much more difficult – which isn’t in anybody’s best interest.
In fact, when you think about what a partner needs, because we’re working with so many vendors, we’re looking for the easiest way to consume the integration capabilities necessary to build the right FSO solutions for our customers.
On a parallel note, if a customer goes with another APM vendor, there are just fewer out-of-the-box integration points available. This means it’s harder for a partner to deliver the integration capability. And if a partner must do an integration for the first time, then the customer is essentially acting as a guinea pig for that service. And no one wants to be a guinea pig!
Brink: What are some key takeaways on how a partner or customer can get started with FSO?
Andy: Start with understanding the lay of your land, what you’re working with, where you may need to fill gaps, pivot, etc. Create a strategy, put together a plan, and execute. Lastly, keep it simple. Then expand from there.
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