In the depths of the operations departments of many organizations, war rooms are somewhere you don’t want to be, either virtually or in person. There you will find IT teams from network, application, security, DevOps, and other internal functions joined by ISPs, SaaS, cloud, and a range of other external service providers in a race to prove their innocence and exit the room. What's wrong with this picture?
Before you answer that, however, let’s take a step back to recognize just how much technology underpins modern businesses. Digital and digital transformation aren’t new, but they matter more now because they matter more to the business. We all know we prefer to interact with companies and even our government’s services digitally. And is anyone honestly going to say, post-pandemic, that digital connectivity and collaboration platforms aren’t critical to how our employees get their jobs done? Simply put, no business can succeed in today’s economy without delivering successful digital experiences for its users, customers, citizens, and employees.
Understanding Digital Business Risk
Consider these statistics for a moment:
- eCommerce revenues are forecast to exceed $6.33 trillion by 2024 (eMarketer)
- 60% of executives cited digital transformation as the most important growth driver (PwC)
They seem important. But how many of us truly grasp the business impact of key digital projects or platforms failing? And how many of us understand how to mitigate those risks, given the new digital landscape we now operate within?
Today’s businesses operate in a constantly changing and evolving environment. The rapid pace of technological innovation has led to the digitization of almost every aspect of our lives, including how we do business. This digital transformation has created new opportunities and challenges for operators, with one of the most significant being the complexity of the service dependencies we all rely on.
Delivering seamless and intuitive digital experiences depends increasingly on a complex web of distributed technologies, all needing to interact in milliseconds to avoid a perceptible reduction in experience quality for the user. But as the performance, resilience, and scalability of our applications have rocketed over the past ten years, so has the complexity of the ecosystem of network, cloud, application, and third-party service providers needed to support it. Moreover, the overall performance is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain on any given day.
Assuring the Digital Business
Without a clear understanding of digital performance and the risks it can unleash, businesses are vulnerable to a wide range of issues, including degraded customer and employee experiences, brand and reputational damage, financial penalties from missed SLAs, compliance violations, and profit loss.
In the past, we could have told ourselves there was an IT outage, and we got on with our job as best we could. But increasingly, this fallback is akin to not being open for business. So what can you do about it?
The first step is realizing that our operational systems and processes must change. None of us are coming to this challenge with a clean sheet of paper, except perhaps the newest of start-ups. We all carry existing systems within our operating stacks, existing processes, and skill sets. But what was important for us yesterday is not necessarily the same as what will be important for us tomorrow. If we’re at a point where most of our workloads are in the cloud, shouldn’t most of our assurance also be oriented around cloud workloads? Likewise, if 80% of our people work from home 80% of the time, shouldn’t 80% of our employee experience effort go into assuring this distributed experience?
Understanding how this new distribution in your applications, infrastructure, and people maps to your existing monitoring stack is crucial to begin highlighting imbalances and gaps or blindspots. Generally, these gaps are within external third parties, or at least related to how these third parties go together end-to-end to deliver digital experience. If you’re talking about your customers’ or employees’ experiences and think it’s not your problem because you don’t own the application or infrastructure, this is a sure sign you have a problem.
Identifying these gaps is the first step. These gaps are risks your digital business faces, which you need to assure. But clearly, it’s not everything you do. Finding platforms like ThousandEyes to fill these gaps is crucial. Equally significant is the thoughtful examination of how to leverage this telemetry data, its implications on your existing operations stack, how to integrate and aggregate it, its impacts on your existing workflow, and what this means in terms of required skill sets. This process is, ultimately, how you operationalize and react to digital risk.
Which Brings Us Back to the War Room
So what do we have against the war room? In truth, nothing, really—we acknowledge that a world where we confidently predict, identify, and resolve all issues proactively and without impact is unrealistic. But allow us two more points.
Firstly, in a world where our applications, infrastructure, and networks have never been as sophisticated and where we rely on digital connectivity for pretty much everything, do we really need to line everybody up to prove their innocence? Surely we can identify whether it’s the app or the network and isolate the domain to tell us whose network a fault might be in. Plus, in a world where distributed applications across an ecosystem of providers are the future of architecture, we can’t just keep adding new providers into the room. We need to rethink how we approach things fundamentally. How can we treat every network as if it were our own?
Secondly, as we noted earlier, if you say, “it’s not my problem,” then you have a problem. We need to shift the discussion away from a siloed race to prove our innocence to one where we own the end-to-end application delivery and user experience. Application Performance Monitoring (APM) and some cloud-native monitoring, such as AWS Cloudwatch, is part of the equation. Still, those are where the application is, not where the user is. If we care about the user experience, and if that experience impacts the health of our digital business, then we also need to measure from the user across every component part we rely on. Ownership, measurement, and optimization of this experience is the key to assuring that experience end-to-end.
End-to-End Assurance for the Modern Enterprise
The lack of visibility across the Internet creates significantly more risk for businesses than is often understood. ThousandEyes network assurance makes it possible to see end-to-end into user experience—from any user, across any network, to any application—so you can treat every network as your own and deliver the best possible experiences.