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July 18, 2022

Short-Staffed IT Teams Need Unified Observability to Turn Insights into Action

Mike Marks


The world has changed around IT teams. The basic formula may be the same—ensure the performance, accessibility and security of their organizations’ systems, services and applications. But the environment surrounding the job has become infinitely more layered and complex.

Teams have to manage a highly distributed infrastructure that typically comprises a mixed bag of on-premises systems and public, private and hybrid clouds. They work with applications that range from self-hosted to managed, and as-a-service apps to serverless cloud-native applications that can be here one minute and gone the next. IT teams are supporting a growing hybrid workforce, troubleshooting problems across a greater number of locations than ever, often on home networks they can’t see.

And they are tasked with securing this expanding and increasingly obscure attack surface. They have more data than ever, but that data is spread out across the infrastructure and often siloed. It exists without context, contributing little toward actionable insights. What it does create is an overload of alerts, but without the broader context that would enable security teams to prioritize which alerts require immediate response. It drains resources while often not eliminating vulnerabilities.

Monitoring tools can help provide visibility into the infrastructure, but in this environment, visibility alone isn’t enough. Organizations need to be able to turn that information into actionable insights and then act quickly, something that 75% of IT leaders in a recent study say they are struggling to do with using existing tools.


They need observability—specifically, they need a comprehensive, unified approach to observability.

The Benefits (and Limits) of Individual Tools

Monitoring tools are still important, and are capable of providing end-to-end transparency into a customer and employee journey. But those tools work according to preset metrics and thresholds; they work best when you already know what you’re looking for. Observability tools take the next step, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to produce results, helping teams understand the collected data and how to use it to prioritize and prevent problems.

Simply put, observability enables you to measure the internal states of a system by examining its outputs. Correlating information gathered by a variety of tools and putting that information into context gives teams insight into the “unknown unknowns.” It allows them to find the reason behind an anomalous or unexpected system behavior and act on it, often through automated responses.

The key in today’s hybrid, highly distributed and dynamic environment is in unifying observability across the enterprise. Although observability tools represent the next phase in monitoring and visibility, many current tools have limitations of their own.

Most of the tools today are designed for specific uses, such as in DevOps or for Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) in cloud-native use cases. Being used in those targeted environments, they provide only limited, sampled data, but they also produce a slew of context-free alerts, requiring manual investigation with the help of resident IT experts, who then are unable to work on important business activities. Without a unified approach, you’re left with an incomplete picture of the environment, without the context necessary to derive actionable insights—and the same drain on resources spent chasing down events that prove to be inconsequential.

Unified Observability Creates a Single Source of Truth

A unified approach to observability would capture every transaction, packet and flow across the enterprise, rather than dealing only with sample data. It also would capture the user experience for every type of application, whether web or mobile. By applying automated AI and machine learning (ML) to this full-fidelity data, organizations get a complete view of what’s happening in the enterprise, with the context they need to prioritize their actions and work efficiently. And because it delivers the sought-after single source of trust, unified observability enables cross-domain coordination and collaboration, because everyone is working with the same data.


The benefits organizations can reap from unified observability include:

Seamless business continuity. By gathering full-fidelity data from a full range of sources—from devices, networks and servers, to applications, cloud-native environments, users and third-parties—and providing context-rich, filtered and prioritized insights, unified observability not only improves security, but also performance. Better digital service quality will keep customers happy and employees more productive.

Increased agility and productivity. The automated prioritization of insights drawn from the data is invaluable to IT teams. It reduces alert fatigue and focuses resources on issues that need to be tackled first. Operators work on fewer, but more critical events and are able to resolve issues without escalation.

Improved service availability and reduced cost. Another benefit of the efficiencies gained via observability is that, by reducing the time and effort it takes to identify root causes and accelerating or automating remediation, is that it will increase availability and inevitably lower operating costs.

Bridged silos. By eliminating silos and creating a single source of truth, a unified approach empowers cross-domain collaboration and decision-making. It eliminates time wasted on misunderstandings and finger-pointing, allowing teams to more seamlessly work together.

A Solution that Matches the Challenge

In a growing and increasingly complex cloud-based environment that is compounded by hybrid work, BYOD, the reliance on SaaS, the persistent use of shadow IT and other factors, organizations need a clear enterprise-wide view of IT performance. Monitoring and visibility tools are effective only to a point. Observability takes visibility to the next level, but even current observability tools fall short of a complete view of the enterprise and the automated analysis and response that would make a real difference.

Unified observability builds on current solutions to provide end-to-end visibility and the innovative data science tools that turn mountains of data from disparate sources into clear, actionable insights.

By producing full-fidelity telemetry from the infrastructure, providing continual AI- and ML-enabled analysis, and enabling automated remediation, unified observability is the most effective way to improve both security and performance, resulting in more efficient IT and business operations.

About the author:  Mike Marks leads Riverbed’s product marketing team, and is responsible for sales enablement, go-to market planning and execution, and thought leadership. Before joining Riverbed, Mike held senior roles in marketing, business development, and product marketing in the cloud, managed services, and service assurance teams of Aternity, CA Technologies, Concord Communications, 3Com and Pacific Bell. A graduate of Brown University and Stanford Graduate School of Business, Mike also spent eight years as a submarine officer in the United States Navy. A competitive triathlete and recovering ultra-runner, he lives outside of Boston.

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