Why Are Enterprises Slow To Adopt Observability?

Modern enterprises depend upon being reliable, effective, and frictionless - especially in providing end-to-end digital services. However, increasing complexity means the demands on IT departments to keep their systems functioning without interruption get tougher with each passing day. 

Many in the IT engine room are eyeing observability tools as a solution. Not only are these designed to achieve optimal performance, compliance, and resilience in digital environments, but they also provide visibility across entire networks, infrastructures, systems, applications, and databases. 

In other words, observability encompasses more than just a simple monitoring tool. By using cross-domain data correlation, machine learning, and AIOps, observability provides the actionable business insights needed to identify and fix issues in real time.

For those who have embraced this approach, the results speak for themselves. According to SolarWinds 2023 IT Trends Report, almost all (96%) of those who had adopted observability tools recorded improved customer service. Seven in ten (71%) said they could innovate faster, while the same number said they could reduce the average time taken to solve issues.

Strong Headwinds: What Are the Barriers to Adopting Observability?

With such a seemingly strong case for observability, why are so many enterprises yet to embrace it? Especially when, according to SolarWinds’ own research, outages and other downtime can cost organisations $13.7M (£11M) a year. 

In truth, many are still in the early stages of their observability journey. And while plenty of leaders possess the drive to make the necessary changes, strong headwinds can hinder progress. In some cases, a ‘cultural resistance' to change can dismiss the need for a new approach. IT leaders may prefer to stick with what they know rather than try an unfamiliar tool. 

It could be down to a lack of communication, concerns over resources, or a need for more skills and training.

And it goes without saying that as soon as you start discussing the automation of tasks, talk inevitably turns to concerns about whether such a decision is a precursor to job losses.

Then there is the technology itself. There are numerous observability solutions available. And while choice is normally a good thing, in this case, the sheer volume of options can make things overwhelming.

On their own, any one of these issues can impede the timely adoption of observability. Combined, it’s easy for IT departments to be paralysed by indecision. Faced with such challenges, sometimes the easiest path is to delay. 

What’s clear is that there are plenty of reasons why enterprises are holding back. More than seven in ten (72%) reported that the accelerating pace of technological change - including apps and networks - was problematic, with 58% citing the growing complexity of modern applications.

A similar number said that observability blind spots in today’s modern networks - including cloud, tunnels, and databases - also made life difficult. At the same time, just over half (52%) said that insufficient observability budgets were an ’extremely challenging’ obstacle.

Significant Rewards: What Are the Benefits of Observability?

And yet, for those who overcome ‘decision paralysis,’ the rewards are significant. Such solutions lead to greater automation, reduced tool sprawl, and the 20/20 vision afforded by comprehensive single-pane-of-glass visibility.

According to the survey, enterprises that adopted observability saw a 233% improvement in the auto-escalation of IT service management (ITSM) or help desk tickets. They also recorded a 213% increase in performance for the auto-remediation of simple alerts. In fact, they saw improvement across the board in a way that not only fosters transparency and collaboration but also encourages a culture of ongoing review.

The message is clear. By accelerating insights, improving data integrity and resilience, implementing automation, and reducing human error - all while supporting data privacy regulations - observability can play a crucial role in guaranteeing the effective delivery of digital services in an era of mounting IT complexity. 

Rob Johnson is VP and Global Head of Solutions Engineering at SolarWinds

Image: John Barkiple 

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