Full-stack observability for a secure digital experience
The digital experience has become an integral part of our lives—this is true now more than ever. Not only has it made our lives easier, it has become absolutely indispensable in many respects. End users today have little patience for a poor digital experience and are quick to blame the brand providing the application or digital service, regardless of who is ultimately responsible.
In general, companies can afford almost no mistakes: 57 percent of all users say they give brands only one chance—if a digital service does not work as desired, they will stop using it. But your SAP applications are just one small part of an expansive digital landscape that is constantly evolving and becoming ever larger and more complex. With more dependencies, more data, more clouds, and more vendors, the danger of blind spots increases. 75 percent of technology professionals worldwide say they face more IT complexity today than ever before, and that they are constantly struggling with overwhelming amounts of data without the proper support and resources. Using isolated monitoring approaches for applications, infrastructure, security and networks is inefficient and ineffective, and it quickly overwhelms the capacity of staff. A good way to solve this problem is full-stack observability.
What does observability mean?
In modern technology environments, observability is a process of using software tools to detect problems. With this process, both the inputs and outputs of the technology stack are observed. Inputs include application and infrastructure stacks, while outputs include business transactions, user experience and application performance.
Observability tools collect and analyze a wide range of data, including application health and performance data, business metrics such as conversion rates, user experience mapping and infrastructure, and network telemetry. The objective is to resolve issues before they impact the company’s KPIs.
Observability is a concept that originates in control theory, and it refers to the extent to which the internal state of a complex system can be understood if only its outputs are known. According to the theory, the higher the level of observability, the easier it is to move from diagnosing a problem to finding the cause and solving it.
Observability was originally used in engineering applications to detect problems in the automatic control of dynamic systems. In the context of modern IT business processes, observability refers to the ability to understand global system function with the goal of mitigating problems that could impede system operations, both by making proactive changes to prevent problems in the first place and by rectifying them quickly when they do occur.
Or SAP monitoring
What is the difference between full-stack observability and traditional SAP monitoring? Observability differs from traditional monitoring in that users can track multiple processes in complex operating environments. Observability tools identify the factors behind the problems that occur in a distributed system, making them easier to fix. The most powerful of these solutions provide full-stack observability of the entire system, so that you can uncover potential problems across all your applications and infrastructure—whether it is in the ABAP stack of an SAP system or in connected non-SAP systems.
Regardless of where they are used, observability tools are typically associated with instruments, i.e., measurement tools used to collect telemetry data from distributed systems. This data can be correlated to provide time series visualizations that offer context to events occurring within the system.
In addition, automatic alerts can be enabled to notify system operators of failures or other system malfunctions. Machine learning tools can also be used to sift through the data to prioritize incidents that require a rapid response, escalating the notification status accordingly.
What are the arguments for using full-stack observability for SAP? With distributed SAP applications and connected systems, the multitude of processes and systems involved can cause problems in unexpected ways. That’s why it’s usually not enough to monitor selected metrics to detect problems before they occur.
In these systems, requests can trigger a chain reaction of messages to associated services. This makes it difficult to use monitoring tools to diagnose exactly what went wrong when a system error occurs.
By tracking a wide range of events relating to system function, observability tools can identify potential problems before they impact system performance. The context provided by the observability tools allows team members to see any changes in system performance over time and how those changes correlate with other changes. These tools often employ easy-to-understand visual reports and dashboards. They can also be used to shed light on connections between system elements involved in the problem, and to identify dependencies that need to be explored in order to solve a problem.
SAP cloud migrations
Full-stack observability as a tool for SAP cloud migrations? Dependency analysis is particularly useful as a planning tool for cloud migrations, as it allows you to understand the dependencies between the various SAP systems in advance. Especially with systems that have grown with custom code over many years, overlooked dependencies between systems can cause problems during a cloud migration. The dashboard function can be used to visualize those processes that are supported by SAP. This is an ideal way to measure and visualize the actual impact that changes to the system will have on business. For example, you can visualize an “order to cash” process and measure a performance baseline before and after a cloud migration in order to assess what impact the cloud migration—or even an S/4 migration—had on the performance of the business process.
What are the limitations of various observability tools? As useful as observability tools can be, if they don’t cover all applications within your technology stack, they can prevent the proactive identification and resolution of issues. If these tools are unable to provide real-time data from all elements in your system so that you can take immediate action when problems are identified, the resulting blind spots can cause unexpected system events.
This in turn can lead to problems that are not detected by your observability tools. And this leads to the very problems in customer expectations and operational efficiency that observability is supposed to avoid. To allow you to fully optimize your system, observability tools should be able to work with all frameworks and languages present in your environment, especially the ABAP and Java stacks.
What are the advantages of full-stack observability? Full-stack observability lets you know where a problem occurred, why it occurred, and what actions you should prioritize based on their impact on your business.
This key advantage enables you to optimize performance, cost and security for SAP and native cloud applications in hybrid and multi-cloud environments. The ability to monitor the internal health of an SAP application, along with accurate data on system errors, makes full-stack observability a key factor for achieving better outcomes.
Advantages of full-stack observability
Developers are aware of problems more quickly and receive more detailed information about changes made in a system, so that they can fix problems more quickly.
Accurate, real-time data on which applications are experiencing a drop in system performance helps development teams pinpoint exactly where problems have occurred or system performance has declined.
Software development is accelerated thanks to the rapid diagnosis and resolution of problems made possible by full-stack observability. This leads to cost savings and gives development teams more time to focus on optimizing product features. With an expanded global view of the entire system architecture, including third-party applications and services, developers gain better insight into actual system performance, which then allows them to optimize product design.
Seeing the full history of a request from start to finish makes it easier for development teams to troubleshoot and solve problems in distributed computing environments. This results in faster and improved workflows and eliminates the need to contact third-party providers for information on application performance or responsibility for the server.
Stakeholders can work together more effectively thanks to the complete overview of the system offered by full-stack observability. Team members and partners gain a better understanding of how the various elements and components interact and how the system performs operationally over time. This makes it easier for system operators, developers, analyst teams, SAP consultants and project managers to collaborate to solve problems, analyze system performance and improve system design. All parties and experts involved in the process can view the detailed system failure logs from these tools. This helps to avoid disagreements about the causes of problems within a system.
This is the third part of a five-part series! If you would like to read the fourth one, click here.