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The Challenge of Full-Stack Observability

By James Connolly

Research highlights how the observability tools market is fragmented and how user implementations may still be in the early stages.

Full-stack observability promises to provide better visibility into the complete — and complex — enterprise IT environment. With that comes a sharper view into the customer experience. Yet, IT professionals say that view is a bit too fragmented today.

That’s a key takeaway from research conducted by IT advisory firm SiliconANGLE Media and its survey partner Enterprise Technology Research (ETR). The two firms recently published Cutting Through the Noise of Full-Stack Observability. The report analyzed the needs and goals of 88 enterprises. It looked in depth at how well the software sector is addressing those requirements.

It was what you might call a mixed bag with software vendors tackling new responsibilities and users still discovering what they want observability to accomplish.

Full-stack complexity

The report highlighted why full-stack observability is a challenge.

Consider the very nature of today’s full-stack architecture. It’s becoming more complex almost by the day. Modern applications are built with a mashup of elements, from chunks of code to remote, cloud-based services. The sheer number of enterprise-wide applications is commonly estimated at well over 100 on average. And, one-off departmental apps make a portfolio a challenge to manage. Add in the complexity of multiple client types, remote access, and distributed networks, and you have complexity.

“We’re talking about the compute, storage, networking, containers, the database and other middleware components, the pipeline of data; and the client-side code: the HTML, the CSS, everything down to the mobile device,” wrote SiliconANGLE co-CEO Dave Vellante.

Vellante added, “Every vendor wants a piece of the action in this market, including companies that have provided traditional monitoring, log analytics, application performance management and similar services. These companies are joined by a slew of new entrants claiming end-to-end visibility across the so-called ‘modern tech stack’.”

From point products to full-stack observability

So, the environment itself is complex. Then, the solutions end up being complicated as well, with multiple software providers each offering to see and manage it all. One problem is that a vendor may be good at one aspect, such as log analytics, but not so good at another. The research concluded that the most likely path to success is for multiple vendors to bundle their offerings.

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