Picture the scene – it’s 11:30 a.m. on a rainy Tuesday and your thoughts are turning towards lunch. But today, lunch will not be happening. Your CTO has other ideas.
They’ve just come from a board meeting, where a new strategy has been agreed upon based on Digital Transformation (DX). Various application teams have now been tasked with supporting and implementing the strategies propelled by digital services as defined by corporate leadership and your IT Department must support them. Without knowing what form Digital Transformation may take, how do you go about addressing this challenge?
The Unavoidability of Digital Transformation
Granted, that’s perhaps a somewhat cynical view of Digital Transformation. But Digital Transformation certainly feels impossible to avoid within the IT industry. In fact, it’s hard to avoid in any industry. For some, it’s a phrase they love to hate. However, there is no doubt about the growing reliance on technology to allow companies to differentiate their services. No longer is this just the domain of start-ups. Established 200 year-old businesses are transforming to rely on digital services to define how they win and retain business.
And that means, as an IT Department, you’re either already having to support Digital Transformation within your existing service offering, or it’s something that will come knocking soon enough. So how do you translate the desire for Digital Transformation into something tangible that your IT Department can offer in support?
Monitoring is the Key
One area that IT Departments traditionally have a wealth of experience in is monitoring. They are well versed in running NOCs, at realizing the importance of metrics, alerts and trends, and at building processes for escalating and addressing issues at any time of the day. Further, IT and DevOps monitoring systems focus on applications. But what is missing is a single platform that delivers visibility across all individual domains of service delivery infrastructure AND apps, including their respective dependencies. As businesses transform to be more focused on digital services, there is a huge opportunity to evolve monitoring into something of real value for application teams. It is a natural next step for IT teams to use Application Performance Monitoring (APM) to start to provide application metrics and distributed tracing that many application teams have never even considered could be part of their systems.
APM can also help to make sense of the inter dependencies between applications as they inevitably spread out across multiple clouds and data centers. But dependencies between apps and their delivery infrastructure is where critical insights are gleaned. Without the right toolset, diagnosing performance and service issues for applications which are running in AWS but that are reliant on other services running on premises can be incredibly difficult to track down. As applications become increasingly complex through microservices architectures and more API calls for example that equate to more East-West traffic in need of monitoring, the risk of prolonged service loss or degradation increases as interdependencies become more and more complex and strung out.
An example of an APM which is built to support integrated monitoring of dispersed applications, running across AWS and on-premises assets, is NETSCOUT’s nGeniusONE platform. NETSCOUT summarizes their approach to APM succinctly as ‘Visibility without Borders’. The platform has a proven heritage having started life based on physical appliances and then moved to running upon virtual appliances as virtualization became increasingly prevalent in the data center. nGeniusOne supports monitoring application workloads running on public clouds such as AWS and Azure, as well as virtual networking technologies such as NSX. This breadth allows nGeniusOne to provide a broad overview of a company’s application estate, regardless of where those applications are running.
Looking a little deeper at NETSCOUT on AWS, the virtual appliance solution is named vSTREAM and is also broadly focused on delivering visibility for service assurance and cybersecurity in data centers and hybrid cloud environments.
Once deployed, the vSTREAM agent is lightweight and monitors applications running in an instance of EC2. The vSTREAM install is flexible; it can be pre-installed into the AMI, or installed as part of user data on instance bootstrap, or installed by being triggered using Cloudwatch Events.
By using an agent, vSTREAM is able to gather metrics that are relevant to the application such as response latency or error frequency, rather than just capturing external instrumentation such as CPU or disk load.
The agent sends smart data to a vSTREAM virtual appliance through Adaptive Service Intelligence (ASI). In short, the agent produces data prepared and organized at the collection point such that it is ready and optimized for analytics.
This data can then be viewed using the nGeniusONE server. The server can either be managed on its own or integrated within a global deployment, where a single nGeniusONE Global manager can be used to view monitoring data from all other servers.
In conclusion, digital transformation is a complex series of projects that affect a variety of teams across a business organization. While IT carries a lot of responsibility for supporting that transformation, the key to easing the burden lies in good monitoring and reporting. With the proper use of great application performance management tools, such as NETSCOUT’s nGeniusONE, you can make digital transformation much easier for all of the involved parties.
For more information on NETSCOUT’s Application Performance Management Solution for AWS, please visit their partner site or the AWS Marketplace.