How full-stack observability solves real-life tech problems

August 10 2022

Businesses today need to react instantly to changes or alerts that impact the digital experience. Full-stack visibility can help.

Applications are ingrained in our day-to-day lives. We use them for everything — from paying bills to retail shopping to ride-sharing and, of course, communicating with family and friends. Increasingly, mobile and web apps are the primary way that businesses interact with their customers and drive revenue.

Delivering an excellent application experience is key to maintaining customer loyalty. According to AppDynamics’ Agents of Transformation 2022 study, technologists report that delivering a seamless digital experience to customers and employees is more challenging than ever. It’s also becoming harder to manage the complexity of enabling remote and hybrid work for employees, and linking IT performance with business outcomes, the study finds.

Overwhelmed by complexity

With such a critical focus on apps, businesses need to get the customer experience right. But this challenge is daunting when more than half (56%) of global technologists admit they feel disillusioned and burned out, and more than three-quarters say they feel under pressure to deliver innovation faster. Certainly, this isn’t good for employee satisfaction and retention — or overall mental health. The issue? Technical teams lack unified visibility of IT availability and performance across an increasingly complex and fragmented IT environment. This makes it difficult to cut through data noise to make informed decisions and prioritize actions in the right places.

Technologists say they need a unified toolkit that moves beyond domain monitoring into full-stack visibility — one that offers insights and actions across the technology stack in a multi-cloud environment. Cisco supports a full-stack observability solution with four key pillars: AppDynamics, Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO), Cisco Secure Application and ThousandEyes. These innovative observability tools work together to enable organizations to deliver and optimize customer experiences.

AppDynamics with Cisco IWO

AppDynamics proactively monitors and analyzes complex application environments at scale. Intersight Workload Optimizer, or IWO, is Cisco’s real-time decision engine that ensures applications across on-prem and public cloud environments are healthy and optimized for performance.

IWO offers a host of optimization benefits, including:

  • It continuously analyzes workload demand, resource consumption, resource costs and policy constraints to determine an optimal balance — scaling up or down.
  • Empowers infrastructure and operations teams with visibility, insights and actions to ensure performance SLAs are met while improving the bottom line.
  • Application and DevOps teams gain comprehensive situational awareness, enabling them to deliver high-performing and continuously available apps while reducing costs.

How do AppDynamics and IWO work together? AppDynamics discovers and maps your business application topology and resource utilization, while IWO takes this information and connects it to your data center and cloud infrastructure stack. This helps you optimize your infrastructure environment to ensure that application components get the computing, storage and network resources they need for workload placement, capacity and scaling.

Working collaboratively, AppDynamics and IWO replace sizing guesswork with real-time analytics and modeling, enabling IT leaders to determine how much infrastructure they need for their applications and business to keep pace with demand. Organizations also reap cost savings when provided with information that allows them to scale down. For an under-the-hood look at the AppDynamics-IWO partnership, check out our webinar and overview page, as well as the Cisco blog, “How to get smarter with AppDynamics.”

AppDynamics with Cisco Secure Application

Technologists note that delivering seamless digital experiences for customers and employees is more difficult today than before the pandemic, with nearly half (48%) reporting that ensuring the security of mission-critical applications has grown even “more challenging,” according to Agents of Transformation 2022. Anecdotally, IT leaders tell us that security concerns are one of the major work-related worries that keep them up at night — which is why application security ranks at the top of their investment list over the next 12 months.

Cisco Secure Application, built natively into the AppDynamics business-centric observability platform, dramatically simplifies vulnerability management. It defends against attacks in real-time and correlates performance and security data to unify application and security teams, enabling them to operate proactively. Since modern applications run anywhere — from on-prem data centers to distributed microservices — Secure Application organically adds security capabilities from within the runtime, regardless of location.

To access Cisco Secure Application through an AppDynamics Dashboard, click the Security Events link on the right panel:

According to MIT Technology Review, 2021 set a record for zero-day threats with at least 66 identified instances — each potentially resulting in million-plus dollar losses. (AppDynamics Product Marketing Manager Audrey Nahrvar provides more details in a recent blog.) Cisco Secure Application helps identify and defeat these real-lie vulnerabilities, such as:

  • Spring4Shell: Exposed in March 2022, this vulnerability quickly spread fears of Log4j-like havoc. Cisco Secure Application made it easy for AppDynamics’ to help its customers detect and block this zero-day exploit at runtime.
  • Log4j: AppDynamics was able to directly facilitate our customers’ efforts to identify Log4j vulnerabilities at runtime and block exploits, thanks to the unique capabilities of our leading-edge Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) solution for modern applications.

To learn more, go to the AppDynamics Community and read: How do I use AppDynamics with Cisco Secure Application to find vulnerabilities and block exploits?

AppDynamics with ThousandEyes

ThousandEyes is Cisco’s industry-leading SaaS solution that uses synthetic monitoring probes to measure network performance. It delivers best-in-class network intelligence and extends full-stack observability by providing deep visibility across the public Internet — critical for delivering seamless customer access and interconnecting cloud and on-prem application components.

Working in tandem, AppDynamics and ThousandEyes fill the gaps of traditional siloed tools and provide a proactive, comprehensive view into the application experience, including app delivery and performance. They provide key performance indicators of your business metrics regardless of your users’ location around the globe.

This tight integration has given The Children’s Place, one of the world’s largest pure-play retailers of kids’ specialty apparel, the full-stack visibility it needs to handle retail traffic spikes with ease and deliver next-level experiences to its customers year-round — all while underpinning new cloud-based services.

The Children’s Place’s journey with AppDynamics began a few years ago as it was transforming its applications from on-prem to SaaS. Upon moving to Amazon Web Services, the company up-leveled to an integrated solution that combined application monitoring from AppDynamics with network intelligence from ThousandEyes. The payoff: a real-time view of the retailer’s entire business operation, including its eCommerce platform, databases, Amazon cloud clusters, dozens of microservices and more.

Similarly, FICO, a leading software analytics company best known for its consumer credit score, combined AppDynamics with ThousandEyes to build a robust end-to-end performance management solution with unprecedented visibility and actionable information. In addition to giving FICO unprecedented visibility into every app and service it runs, this solution allowed the company to track network traffic hops inside and outside its environment.

A full-stack solution for real-life tech problems

AppDynamics, Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer, Cisco Secure Application and ThousandEyes provide a 360-degree view of the application experience.

  1. AppDynamics helps to proactively monitor and analyze complex application environments at scale.
  2. Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO) simplifies hybrid cloud operations with full-stack observability, intelligent insight and decision automation.
  3. Secure Application simplifies the life cycle of vulnerability fixes and security incidents by creating shared context across application and security teams.
  4. ThousandEyes offers insights into enterprise, workforce and customer digital experiences through real-time application and network metrics and visualizations.

Learn how AppDynamics and Cisco can play a key role in your journey to full-stack observability!

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