Why the partner ecosystem is critical to full-stack observability

June 30 2022
 

The best way to provide full-stack observability across applications, network and infrastructure is by offering a comprehensive partner ecosystem. Here's how to do it.


A 2021 Forrester report found that 60% of customers appreciate “the convenience of marketplaces,” and predicted that 17% of the $13 trillion in business-to-business (B2B) spend would flow to marketplaces by 2023 — if not sooner. This isn’t surprising, as marketplaces provide an ecosystem of complementary products that can be aggregated and made available to enterprise customers.

Given this trend, it’s equally unsurprising that businesses today want full-stack observability — a unified view of performance and availability up and down the IT stack. They also need a comprehensive view of compute, storage, network and public internet performance, from the customer-facing application all the way to the back end.

But full-stack observability cannot be delivered entirely by just one software solution. To help customers manage today’s unprecedented pace of technological change — including new frameworks and mind-numbing demands from end customers — technology providers must be partner-friendly. What’s that? In addition to having a top-down corporate focus on the channel and ecosystem, partner-friendly means investing in award-winning channel programs that enable and incentivize partners in their own business journeys, empowering them to be profitable along the way. It also means providing a technical framework and a go-to-market model that facilitates the inclusion of complementary tech — thereby getting closer to the holy grail of a truly comprehensive, full-stack observability solution.

It’s not only the channel, it’s the ecosystem

The partner-friendly approach may seem simple and obvious, but it’s harder to achieve than you think. In a must-read thought leadership article, Evolving partner roles in Industry 4.0, Deloitte notes that a partner ecosystem must include four key elements:

  • Selling ally (VAR)
  • Delivery champion (SI MSP)
  • Ecosystem pioneer (ISV, CSP)
  • Co-creator (OEM, ISV)

I’m proud to say that Cisco AppDynamics is consistently rated as one of the top partner-friendly organizations by CRN, which has awarded Cisco’s partner program 5-star ratings in 2021, 2020, and even many years before that. A key reason for these accolades is our ongoing focus on improvement. For example, we’re now doubling down on two critical fronts: extensibility and the ISV ecosystem.

Extensibility is the ability to have a data model and development approach that enables technical and functional extensions to a solution, without the need for major code rewrites or changes in architecture. Ecosystem, while an overused term, in this context refers to the inclusion of complementary technologies as part of an overall solution. For example, in order to onboard more ISVs that provide technical extensions to our full-stack observability solution, we must be truly extensible by design.

(In future posts, we’ll discuss how we’re enhancing our extensibility by leveraging open source and flexible data models, as well as focusing on the ISV ecosystem of our partners.

Embracing the network effect

The network effect is a powerful force that benefits not only customers that utilize it, but also the broader community. Think of it as a tight-knit group of people who work, grow and learn together, as well as share ideas with results that compound over time. Strong, vibrant communities produce healthy individuals who give back to the group, benefiting all involved. In this analogy, if the community is the company, the people are the third parties and the customers are represented by the greater society. It’s a network effect and a win-win for all.

We’re tapping into this concept in a big way with our two key principles of extensibility and ecosystem. Today, AppDynamics has an integration partners program (IPP), which is an ecosystem of independent software vendors (ISVs) pre-validated by our experts across solution domains. These ISVs are critical to key market segments, including CI/CD, security, infra, UX, automation, correlation and ITSM. (To learn more, visit Integration Partners | Partners | AppDynamics and read our quarterly blog.)

“Competitive enterprises are turning to full-stack observability tools to provide deep visibility into the performance and availability of modern IT stacks,” says Mohan Kompella, VP of Product Marketing at BigPanda, a Cisco AppDynamics partner and developer of AIOps event correlation and automation tools. “BigPanda is excited to partner with AppDynamics as part of their Integration Partner Program and provide those enterprises the ability to correlate alerts, events, changes and topology data into insights and actionable incidents.”

We’re super excited for our channel partners, systems integrators (SIs), managed service providers (MSPs), ISVs and end customers. Each has something to gain by leveraging our tech partner ecosystem of complementary solutions. Channel partners will have more in their tool kit to resell and to provide services for. SIs and MSPs will be able to build reference architectures based on pre-validated solutions, leverage and extend existing integrations, and wrap managed offerings around these integrations. The revenue from the resale of third-party and additional services will bolster their bottom line. Finally, end customers will benefit from a virtually limitless set of use cases that drive successful outcomes.

“It is critically important for organizations — and for Cisco sellers and partners — to look at the entire monitoring stack that a customer may have,” says Mark Beckendorf, Practice Manager for AIOps at World Wide Technology (WWT), a Cisco AppDynamics partner. “Observability and integration of multiple tools provide higher value to the customer, reduction in MTTI (mean time to identification), MTTR and RCA, ultimately leading to an improved customer and user experience. For partners like WWT, this approach drives a services-first mentality and solves complex customer problems.”

Increasing value for all

The best way to provide full-stack observability across applications, network and infrastructure is by offering a comprehensive partner ecosystem that includes the channel, managed services partners, systems integrators AND tech partners. It’s one thing to build a solution such as APM (application performance management), and quite another to increase value across the value stream for our channel partners.

What’s a value stream? According to Scaled Agile, value streams “represent the series of steps that an organization uses to implement solutions that provide a continuous flow of value to a customer.” This approach enables all partners to participate in and benefit from the value stream provided to their customers.

Channel partners add more value to our customers by offering a validated reference architecture that goes beyond best-in-class or out-of-the-box, vendor-specific functionality. This means that channel partners can be the prime systems integrator, adding value to the end customer while improving profits and value through resell and professional services. This is done by embedding the ecosystem technically within Cisco AppDynamics, as well as through every touchpoint across go-to-market activities.

Learn more about our partners’ journeys and go-to-market models here. For more information on the Cisco approach to full-stack observability — including AppDynamics, Thousand Eyes and Intersight Workload Optimizer — read this blog.

Stay tuned for future announcements as we extend our platform, making it even more partner-friendly and best in class. Reach out by contacting me directly at crginsbe@cisco.com or via our program page. Finally, consider joining our tech partner program — or for channel partners and customers, simply reach out to learn how we can work together to be more competitive.

Craig Ginsberg received his MBA from The University of Chicago and Bachelor of Science majoring in Management Information Systems from the University at Albany New York. At AppDynamics, Craig leads ecosystem development and the Integration Partner Program. In his past, he led the SD-WAN global channel strategy for Cisco, developed and led pre-sales teams while living in Asia and helped double revenue in two years. He was a CTO for an IPTV startup and led the product launch for a drone analytics startup. He was also an Associate Partner for IBM Global Business Services focused on Telecom. Currently, Craig lives in Denver with his family where he is active with his MBA alumni and is an avid mountain biker and skier.