You saw in our introductory blog Get Unique IT Insights That Help You Make The Right Decisions Fast – how the global pandemic slammed the brakes on many business activities, at least one trend went into warp speed: digital transformation.

This put a heavy burden on IT for seamless digital delivery of the experience underscoring the need for visibility across the entire stack of IT/operations.

In this blog we look at connected IT insights from Cisco platforms aligned to the first of our four customers’ priorities: 1) Reimagine your applications, 2) Transform your infrastructure, 3) Secure your enterprise and  4) Empower your teams.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, applications were highly distributed, spanning multiple and dynamic environments from on-prem to cloud to multi-cloud. When the pandemic hit and large swaths of society shut down, a cascade of events followed that put applications center stage. In order to keep organizations running, applications had to perform well on any device, anywhere, anytime.

With that, the application landscape became even more dynamic. Migration of applications from on-prem environments to cloud accelerated manyfold. According to data collected from AppDynamics, we saw a nearly 50% increase in multi-cloud applications per account.

IT teams faced new challenges. For one, there was a massive growth in the complexity of the underlying technologies and architecture, as well as a need for a huge increase in scale. And there was more of everything — more interactions and interdependencies between multiple systems, more anomalies, more blind spots due to a lack of visibility into areas not under an organization’s control.

So what can IT teams do to improve the digital experience? The underlying infrastructure — the management, security and networking layers — must operate end-to-end from enterprise on-prem and into the cloud. This calls for a cross-architecture approach.

Harnessing AI/ML to Solve Problems Faster

In order to help identify problems earlier and at scale, IT teams need to harness AI/ML. One way to do this is through the AI/ML-based Cognition Engine from AppDynamics. The engine learns application performance patterns to isolate anomalies, allowing IT teams to be aware of issues proactively and fix them faster.

These insights can either be acted upon by human operators or they can be automatically pumped through APIs into systems that take those actions and automate the complex processes involved in running a self-healing, self-optimizing digital business. Between January and August of 2020, we saw a 250% increase in detected application anomalies. But as these anomalies were addressed and application codes stabilized, we saw a downturn in average anomalies detected per application.

Managing page-load times for better application experience
(Click to view full-size image.)

Behind Every Great App Experience There’s a Great Network

The application experience is heavily dependent on network performance. And we know that customer satisfaction and employee productivity are directly dependent on their interaction with applications. If the applications do not perform flawlessly, it can hurt a business’s bottom line and even put a dent in its brand value.

To assess the impact of network performance, we used Cisco ThousandEyes to look at page-load time variations across two application categories during the last year — ecommerce and enterprise collaboration. The page-load time variations in e-commerce applications reflected heavy usage and reliance on large number of third-party dependencies. Despite the variations, the page-load times remained within tolerable ranges, indicating no systemic network duress. Meanwhile, the majority of collaboration applications, with fewer third-party dependencies, performed with greater stability and consistency.

Worth noting here is that we looked at page-load times for a collection of e-commerce sites averaged over a day, meaning that we would only see major impacts. In a real-life customer exercise, IT teams would likely look at specific online applications / websites (form different locations) and double-click on the data from tools like ThousandEyes to highlight the nuances and get actionable insights.

The bottom line is this: It’s no longer enough simply to monitor the systems needed to allow applications to shine. Instead, what’s needed is complete visibility across the compute and networking infrastructure, coupled with proactive insights across the interdependent systems. Together these can provide IT teams the observability that allows them to be aware of issues and fix them faster, so they can focus on empowering innovation and providing more significant business impact.

The more you see, the more you solve. The more you solve, the more you automate. And the more you automate, the more resilient and agile your entire business becomes.

Dive deeper into Cisco Connected IT Insights.