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Effective cloud-native strategies must include application-performance monitoring writes David Noël, regional vice president, Southern Europe, Middle East & Africa at AppDynamics


2020 has tested our resolve. As businesses found themselves with splintered workforces and stayat-home customers, they had to find ways to evolve their operations to fit a new reality. Customers and employees alike required a different IT architecture to be able to carry on as before. The acceleration of digital transformation may have been inevitable in hindsight, but it spun the head of many a regional CIO.

Even before the current crisis, 88% of technology managers in the UAE intended to spend more on cloud computing, according to a YouGov survey, and analyst IDC predicts the Arab Gulf’s public cloud market to more than double in four years. Furthermore, IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Cloud Infrastructure Tracker found that COVID-19 was directly responsible for an acceleration of cloud infrastructure procurement in MENA this year.

But despite this collective enthusiasm, cloud isn’t an easy win or one-size-fitsall solution. It requires careful planning and it’s likely that your board will want to know their return on investment. Many businesses have rightly turned to cloud for answers, but they might be missing a trick. In a fast-changing, rapidly evolving business landscape, real-time application performance monitoring (APM) is the most effective way of getting the most out of applications serving your customers and ultimately your business, especially those built natively in the cloud.

THE IMPORTANCE OF VISIBILITY If employees are cut off from the resources they need or if a customer is waiting endlessly for a webpage to load, the cloud is clearly not delivering on its best-of-all-worlds promise. Both these issues likely arose from poor underlying performance in the suite of applications that form the organisation’s digital backbone. They can be alleviated, even eliminated, by real-time monitoring.

This is especially true of so-called cloud-native applications, which are containerised and subject to continual updates. In such development environments, the ability to respond quickly to operational bottlenecks — to identify the source, make amendments to code or configuration, and redeploy — is vital. Modern marketplaces tend to consist of an increasing number of digital transactions. If a customer encounters a point of failure, they will quickly pivot to a competitor and tell their friends about it. In the digital realm, bad reputations spread at an alarming rate. But according to research firm Gartner, not even 15% of enterprises have made moves to deploy monitoring solutions.

As cloud adoption continues to spread, the popularity of multicloud environments — which can involve several public-cloud providers and a range of virtualised and physical ecosystems — are rapidly dominating. Different providers may be custodians of different parts of the infrastructure, leading to complexity, but also undeniable cost savings.

THE DEMAND FOR APPS So, in search of flexibility and innovation potential, a business may find itself trying to wrestle with a highly distributed application architecture. How can the developers of cloud-native systems manage their domains and deliver timely responses to performance issues?

Cloud-native development strategies are relevant because the demand for new digital capabilities is unrelenting. According to IDC, organisations have an average of 127 applications in operation with plans to grow this number by 40% in the next five years. Cloud-native is seen widely as the quick-win route, but since much of this development is occurring in complex environments, the case for effective monitoring and analysis is absolute. Remember that the business case for cloud-native itself revolves around enhanced operational efficiency, improved customer experience, and accelerated innovation. Optimisation of the deployment environment is therefore crucial.

By investing in effective tools that visualise complex environments and present a simplified overview — and allow granular drill down and analysis in real time — enterprises can unlock the full potential of cloud-native application development. They can enjoy rapid time-to-market, optimal scalability, great flexibility, better customer experiences and reduced costs.

Organisations that fail to monitor cloud-native applications, particularly if they operate in a multi-cloud world, have seen a frustrating shortfall between expectations and the value delivered. And poor ROI can lead to a lack of faith in the whole approach. David Noël Regional Vice President, Southern Europe, MEA, AppDynamics

UNITING IT AND BUSINESS GOALS The right application performance monitoring tools must give users a broad and deep view of their cloud-native and traditional technologies and be able to tie application health to business outcomes in real time. The most advanced of these monitoring tools will leverage AI to predict performance issues before they translate into irate users.

One important element to the cloud-native strategy is the collaboration between those normally disparate areas of business and technology. IT teams should be included in business discussions. After all, they are building the firm’s digital presence and hence its brand. Unified cloud monitoring must include humans teaming up on the things that matter most, so that innovation may be accelerated.

Cloud-native application development allows shrewd businesses to make a name for themselves quickly. To be shrewd means appreciating the importance of insights and intelligence that show how applications are affecting the business’ public image. Application-monitoring systems deliver these insights and lead to enhancements in brand loyalty, employee morale and profits.