What Is Full-Stack Observability?

Overcome the challenges of crippling complexity, observe and prioritize what matters most to the user experience and the business, and turn performance into profit with full-stack observability.

The (complex) modern technology landscape


Digital transformation is taking place at historic levels, and technologists are working double time to implement innovation on previously unimaginable schedules. Projects that would’ve formerly taken a year or more now need to go live in months or even weeks.

To make this accelerated development life cycle possible, businesses are adapting and adopting cloud native technologies, microservices and containerized components on a large scale while leveraging an extensive web of legacy components, third-party services and application programming interfaces (APIs).

It’s a brave new world.

As the technology landscape explodes in complexity, it becomes ever more challenging for IT teams to keep an eye on application behavior, performance and health and identify and resolve issues before they adversely impact the user experience and the business. Traditional, domain-centric monitoring tools were not built for this level of diversity and dynamicity and often simply cannot provide the end-to-end view of the entire application ecosystem that they require.

But the pace of modernization shows no signs of abating. How can organizations bridge this visibility gap and see and understand everything that’s happening in real time across their application delivery chain through the lens of the business?

Enter full-stack observability.


What is full-stack observability?


Full-stack observability is real-time observability across the modern technology stack — applications, software-defined compute, storage, services, network and more. It provides enterprises with in-depth visibility into the behavior, performance and health of their application and supporting infrastructure via high-fidelity telemetry (metrics, events, logs and traces aka MELT) collected from their entire IT estate.

Through full-stack observability, IT teams can develop a deep understanding of their highly distributed application topologies and dependencies across domains. They have the ability to easily access, explore and search a plenitude of data and correlate application performance to business outcomes. Armed with actionable insights, they can prioritize what matters most, reduce mean time to identify (MTTI)/resolve (MTTR), and consistently provide customers and employees with the flawless digital experiences they demand.


Why does my business need full-stack observability?


Full-stack observability is gaining traction with technologists around the globe who are struggling to manage soaring IT complexity while continuing to successfully deliver innovation at scale in this digital-first era. On the surface, it’s easy to simply say its increasing popularity is due to the fact that it allows you to deliver world-class experiences that delight your customers and employees — but let’s dig a little deeper.

Gain deep, end-to-end visibility across your application ecosystem

Full-stack observability fills in blind spots and provides IT teams with complete visibility across all of an application’s components, dependencies (including those outside their control), and performance metrics to help them better understand its behavior, performance and health.

Break down operational silos and align your IT teams

In many organizations, the personnel responsible for supporting the application delivery chain are siloed and saddled with domain-centric, disparate tools, and continuous application and cloud modernization deepen this disconnect. Full-stack observability aligns IT teams around a shared common context, eliminating finger-pointing and reducing MTTI/MTTR and application downtime.

Prioritize issues based on user and business impact

Operational silos also make it extremely difficult for IT teams to understand when and how an issue is adversely affecting the user experience and the business. By correlating application performance to outcomes, full-stack observability provides insights that allow them to determine what to fix first, what to rebuild and what to optimize to preserve customer loyalty and maximize revenue.

Proactively pinpoint and resolve problems before they affect performance

Traditional monitoring tools only allow IT teams to react to incidents after the fact, forcing them to scramble to identify and resolve them before they impact performance and, in turn, end users. Full-stack observability allows them to take a proactive stance, track and diagnose problems on the front end with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) solutions, and address them — without customers and employees being any the wiser.

Optimize your infrastructure cost and performance

Accurately predicting how much computing, storage and network resources application components need and when they will need them — especially if a business experiences seasonal fluctuations — is an extremely challenging endeavor. Full-stack observability provides InfraOps teams with the tools to model what-if scenarios quickly, accurately forecast capacity, and allocate appropriate resources in real time, allowing them to take proactive action and minimize infrastructure costs while maximizing performance.

Align your tech decisions with the needs of your business

For many enterprises, applications are the business. But IT and business teams often make important decisions in a vacuum. Full-stack observability brings everyone to the table, linking application performance to outcomes so that all stakeholders can work together and prioritize what matters most.

Modernize your approach to application security

As the technology stack becomes more complex and unpredictable, applications are more vulnerable to security threats than ever before — and the effects of a data breach can be devastating. Full-stack observability brings AppOps and SecOps teams together to detect and address vulnerabilities in moments rather than months, protecting both the business’s reputation and its bottom line.


How AppDynamics helps


AppDynamics, combined with Cisco’s extensive domain expertise, enables your business to deliver unmatched application experiences through industry-leading full-stack observability with a business lens.

  • Build a shared common context and align IT teams supporting your modern technology stack. Streamline how the teams tasked with keeping your technology up and running operate. Unify them with contextual, actionable insights from a single solution that provides complete, end-to-end visibility across your entire application landscape along with powerful user and business intelligence.
  • Exceed customer expectations by proactively addressing problems before they affect digital experiences. Quickly prioritize, isolate and remediate issues with the help of our leading-edge AIOps capabilities and ensure that end users and mission-critical business metrics are not impacted.

  • Act with confidence on what matters most. Observe what matters by correlating application performance to business outcomes, make informed decisions, and focus on delivering innovation that drives revenue streams while accelerating digital transformation.


"Unlike other tools that simply tell you when something’s wrong, AppDynamics actually correlates data and alerts to help us proactively address the underlying causes of potential performance degradation before it affects the customer experience and, in turn, our bottom line."

Adam Rasner, Vice President of Technology Operations, AutoNation

Related Resources

View all resources

The Age of Application Observability

Why technologists must act now to optimize application performance and deliver sustainable innovation within hybrid IT environments.

Elevate digital experiences for customers and employees

Cisco full-stack observability elevates digital experiences by providing full-stack visibility, insights, and action, tied to business context.

Observability vs Monitoring

Expand on your knowledge of the functionality of your application and system with the in-depth data that observability offers.

What is OpenTelemetry?

OpenTelemetry is a new framework for greater observability, allowing you to standardize how telemetry data, such as logs, metrics, events and traces are collected and sent to the backend platform of your choice.

Full-stack observability through the lens of business impact