Over the course of the pandemic, the reliability of websites, cloud applications, and cloud infrastructure has been tested exponentially. Businesses worldwide had to transform themselves practically overnight to support a distributed workforce. A year from the start of the lockdown and forward-looking organizations are reinventing themselves once more as they prepare to support a hybrid workplace while simultaneously moving forwards with digital transformation.
Site reliability engineers (SRE) and DevOps teams have found themselves under intense, sustained pressure over the last year of remote work to help businesses maintain optimal service delivery for customers and employees at scale across distributed geographies. At the same time, there is an imperative for businesses to become more agile and for engineers to implement frequent software changes to help the business remain efficient and adaptable.
DevOps team leaders and SREs rely on digital experience monitoring (DEM) to troubleshoot problems, improve team collaboration, and drive a better experience for the end user. We have identified three trends in IT Monitoring specifically aimed at DevOps and SREs to help lessen the daily toll of this heavy workload.
1) The normalization of the hybrid workplace will require more globally supportive, resilient infrastructures.
The situation: From Google to Cisco, more and more companies are redefining the future of work to encompass a hybrid workplace. I don’t expect all employees to return to the office full-time anytime soon. Instead, I believe the enterprise office will serve primarily as a site for in-person collaboration, while the home office will become the de facto choice for everyday work.
The resulting challenge: This revised work distribution will demand new levels of resiliency from local networks and infrastructure. In particular, it will place added stress on towns and rural areas not used to high demand, to which city workers have recently moved.
There will also be continued pressure on IT teams to deliver a reliable and consistent experience to employees distributed in home offices (with variable and frequently unstable Internet connections) as well as business locations. It's not an easy balance to maintain. So how can businesses make this happen?
The solution: First off, IT teams to be well equipped to manage those multiple environments. Enabling a hybrid workplace requires detailed insight into what is happening in real-time across the entire service delivery chain, including the last mile.
In order to accomplish this, we recommend running an audit to surface any monitoring silos across DevOps, NetOps, and SecOps. Then, use the results to identify and address all potential risks connected to performance, reliability, and security. By understanding and handling problems today, SREs can work towards enabling a truly flexible work environment tomorrow. In addition, they can provide optimal employee experience across multiple infrastructures.
2) Greater automation comes with greater blind spots.
The situation: COVID-19 sparked the growing use of automation technologies in many areas, such as rapidly enabling touchless interactions across customer experience channels. Similarly, the pandemic has expedited the automation of repetitive and routine tasks within SRE and DevOps teams.
We are hearing that DevOps teams and SREs are increasingly using continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) at every stage of app management. By introducing automation across the dev/production lifecycle, engineers see that code can be deployed faster to achieve a quicker time to market. Therefore, as we continue into 2021, I expect to see enterprises continue to ramp up their use of automation.
The resulting challenge: As organizations adopt greater automation and more of a cloud-native approach, their application and infrastructure environments become more complex. Automation introduces more components. At the same time, those components often run for extremely short periods of time. Moreover, each component generates its own operations data. Data is further generated by the communications between the services that constitute these distributed applications.
Be warned: greater complexity and larger volumes of data lead to more opportunities for automation blind spots.
The solution: Seek out an approach to monitoring that takes into account the entire developer and user experience. By moving tasks to the left as early as possible in the application lifecycle, we consistently see that developers benefit by testing early. This means they can identify defects before they become big problems. A monitoring solution that offers full-stack synthetics will help DevOps teams and SREs confidently shift left by providing end-to-end visibility into the pre-production environment and the user experience of the code on the external website or application.
3) “Like two peas in a pod:” observability and monitoring will play more in tandem.
The situation: We are seeing that SREs are increasingly using observability and monitoring together. As IT teams realize the ways in which the two disciplines can complement one another in enabling a better understanding of overall systems behavior and health, they are also finding that using the two in tandem helps with tracking valuable SLOs.
The challenge: SREs have often been using observability and monitoring data in a siloed way. This leads to a limited picture of the user experience. As the business environment has become more complicated, the gaps in the user experience picture have become more evident.
The solution: Observability allows Ops to pull data from logs, metrics, traces, and events for any stage in the production lifecycle. This expands the ability to glean insights from specific sets of data (highly useful in the era of big data). For maximum effect, enterprises will combine observability with digital experience monitoring to track all the delivery components necessary for their services to reach the end user.
Working together, these tools significantly heighten the ability of SREs, ITOps, and DevOps to perform deep root cause analysis and more quickly resolve performance issues without consuming excessive internal resources.
Bring It On, 2021!
By being aware of – and anticipating – these three trends in IT monitoring, DevOps and SREs can be better prepared to effectively troubleshoot performance issues and improve business outcomes.
Leo Vasiliou is Director of Product Marketing at Catchpoint.