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Why do we need observability into the cloud?

cloud digital transformation
(Image credit: Shutterstock / issaro prakalung)

The Covid-19 crisis has brought about huge change in the way businesses operate. organizations are facing the challenges of increasing customer expectation, more stringent regulation and distributed and diverse enterprise deployments. To overcome these issues, many are prioritizing digital transformation. Yet if organizations want to implement new technology, and – more specifically – harness the power of the cloud, they must begin by creating a clear roadmap towards migration. Part of this will involve looking into which cloud model is the best fit. Some organizations make the mistake of choosing a ‘lift-and-shift’ approach, but this method can create more problems than it solves. For organizations to maximize flexibility and agility, they should consider opting for a ‘retain’ model, keeping some components of previous IT infrastructure and embracing a hybrid-cloud solution.

In fact, a study by Flexera revealed that in 2021, 82 percent of organizations are taking a hybrid cloud approach. While a multi-cloud strategy is often the logical choice for businesses who need to integrate multiple public cloud environments, the hybrid cloud is perfect for those who rely heavily on legacy, on-premise systems, and are concerned about the costs that come with a full migration. If implemented correctly, the hybrid cloud can offer increased efficiency, visibility, security and cost reduction. However, if the cloud isn’t optimized, it can create significant issues within network visibility. Cloud visibility is the essential foundation for any migration, yet it is still one of the biggest challenges organizations are facing.

The challenges of a hybrid-cloud model

The cloud has been the backbone of remote working over the past 18 months, enabling IT departments to quickly scale to accommodate the needs of a remote workforce. However, the rush to migrate and enable distributed teams to work productively has impacted IT complexity and led to poor network visibility. The main challenge here is that on-premise technologies are typically unable to monitor cloud traffic and vice versa. This disconnect has created gaps in visibility, meaning that the cloud is operating in silos, which prevents IT teams from accessing a consolidated view of the data. Coined the ‘hybrid cloud visibility gap’, this term describes the disconnect between tools made for the IT stack before the move to hybrid clouds, that prevent a unified view into the new environment. NetOps teams must establish an integrated, holistic view of their network, encompassing all data-in-motion, if they want to avoid falling victim to security threats and increasing costs. 

Addressing the visibility gap

In order to close the gap, organizations must develop a unified view of the network, that can enable IT departments to maintain a flexible, secure digital environment that meets their needs. As businesses expand and adopt new technologies, the visibility gap widens, which is why it is crucial that firms implement a visibility platform that covers the entire network. In turn, this helps to remove blind spots, improve performance and protect from any threats. Applying a solution that delivers a holistic view of the network will give IT teams the tools and insights needed to accurately analyze, predict and prevent any future cyberattacks. 

However, it is not only visibility that is important. It is also key that NetOps professionals understand and extract the data that is now in view through their ‘single pane of glass’ platform. This is what differentiates simple ‘visibility’ and ‘observability’ – the capability to glean insights and act on them to optimize the hybrid cloud environment.

How organizations benefit from improved observability 

Removing the hybrid visibility gap can also reduce the risk of cyberattacks. A gap in cloud observability can create additional complexity when trying to detect threats and monitor traffic. Building a dashboard view into all components within a network, including east-west traffic, can be the difference between preventing an attack and not. With the average cost of a data breach soaring to $4.24 million (around £3.03 million) per incident this year, prioritizing security and visibility is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ – it is imperative that firms make this a core business objective. 

However, it is not always a security issue – experience is everything, especially when it comes to a customer’s digital experience. Good customer experience minimizes friction, maximizes efficiency and establishes trust – all essential factors in today’s competitive business environment. Without a clear overview of the networks, digital transformation becomes challenging and application errors can slip through the net. As a result, users could experience less efficient services that make it difficult to gain access to the network. Occasionally, human error will get in the way, but with complete visibility, IT teams will be able to maintain dynamic, secure digital environments that drive future business and superb user experience. 

One of the other key benefits of achieving clear visibility is the ability to accelerate cloud migration. Enabling visibility throughout the migration lifecycle can help to highlight issues early on. Visibility also equates to agility. organizations who no longer rely on cumbersome, disconnected tools will be able to scale and accelerate cloud adoption, without compromising visibility. 

Cloud migration – what is the cost?

Cloud migration is often unpredictable, and it is this unpredictability that can reveal hidden costs. If steps aren’t taken to minimize risk, businesses may have to put their cloud projects on hold, which often creates further complexity. With complete visibility across the hybrid environment, processes can be streamlined and cost can be reduced. analyzing all data helps to filter out irrelevant duplicates, which increases the capacity of current tools, expensive bandwidth and CPU. Security breaches, network downtime and unsatisfied customers can all lead to cost implications. In order to avoid this, IT teams should leverage the capabilities of their hybrid cloud solutions and maintain a clear view of all data-in-motion.

organizations who develop a well-defined cloud strategy, that prioritizes observability into their cloud environments, will gain competitive edge and accelerate their digital transformation programs. Investing in building a consolidated view of the cloud will give SecOps teams the much-needed insights required for protecting organizations from security threats. Firms who choose not to migrate will struggle to undergo digital transformation. Therefore, achieving clear visibility across the network is the only way for IT and security teams to ensure their environments remain efficient, agile and safe in today’s digital world.

Adrian Rowley, Senior Director Sales Engineering EMEA, Gigamon

Adrian Rowley

Adrian is a Senior Director Sales Engineering EMEA at Gigamon and has over 15 years of experience in the industry.