Infrastructure Monitoring vs. Experience Monitoring: The Path to Observability

The digital transformation of modern business demands a resilient, adaptable IT infrastructure that can support and react to evolving needs. Effectively managing this infrastructure is key to achieving your desired business outcomes – and to delivering the services your end-users and customers depend on.

The Importance of Infrastructure Monitoring

The IT infrastructure itself is in many ways an amorphous being. It consists of legacy systems that continue to be useful, even as newer systems are brought online to bring about operational and cost efficiencies. The evolution is fluid in nature – business services with demand spikes may require a temporary ramp up of the infrastructure, only to be followed by a return-to-normal once the demand subsides.

While some aspects of service delivery are maintained in-house, other business functions are often hosted in the cloud by providers. This drive towards greater adoption of cloud services does not necessarily mean moving everything into the cloud. A lot of stuff continues to remain on premises too. This creates a hybrid operating mode, which of course adds another dimension to the complexity of the infrastructure estate under management.

To ensure the satisfactory performance of business service delivery, Infrastructure monitoring is essential. It is typical to have a variety of tools to monitor different infrastructure components and layers of technology. These generate logs and metrics that, when managed properly, are valuable sources of information driving real-time and historical analytics.

The Importance of User Experience Monitoring

Your infrastructure makes it possible to deliver services. Now let’s look at it from another perspective: that of the consumers of the services being delivered by the infrastructure.

It’s worth clarifying the diverse nature of users. Some may be in the office and interacting within your environment. Some may be working from home or another site and accessing the resource remotely. Then there is the issue of devices – for example, is the user on a laptop or on a mobile device? Obviously, there are multiple user-modes, and each has a different experience when using the service, based on how they access the network and what applications and devices they utilize.

All this drives the need to have some form of user experience monitoring to truly understand what different user-types are facing when accessing and using business services. Synthetic transactions and tracing techniques serve as powerful tools to monitor user experience.

Putting It All Together – Observability

Infrastructure monitoring provides the alerts, logs and metrics to better understand the state of the network. And experience monitoring provides trace and transaction information to understand the end-to-end performance of an application from each user’s point of view.

As it turns out, these are the very pillars that observability depends upon.

Observability is the ability to understand what is happening inside a system based on the external data released by that system. Observability requires that actionable data from multiple sources is appropriately connected, optimized, and enhanced for context. (For more on the benefits of observability, visit this recent post.)

It is monitoring (both infrastructure monitoring and experience monitoring) that provides the data that makes observability possible. In many ways, observability may be seen as a natural evolution of established monitoring practices. While monitoring tells you when something is wrong, it’s observability that can actually tell you what’s happening, why it’s happening and how to fix it.

This is huge in terms of dealing with the complex nature of the delivery infrastructure. It enables near real-time remediation. By applying observability systematically, organizations can increase their speed of response and optimize their business operations in real time.

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