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Mind the (visibility) gap  

It is predicted that by 2020, ‘digital experience’ will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator. Alex Henthorn-Iwane, VP product marketing at ThousandEyes, takes a look at how businesses can hope to ensure a strong digital experience for their customers, whilst navigating the serverless architecture of a multi-cloud landscape.

The need for agility in today’s digital world means most companies can only realistically provide a reliable, seamless digital experience to their customers and employees by leveraging cloud and third-party technologies. What this means is that companies are relinquishing much of the control they’ve previously had of their IT systems and infrastructure.

Now, IT architectures have evolved from a controlled, managed environment to something that is shared, requiring a profoundly different way of thinking. Given that an estimated 96% of businesses use the cloud in some manner, nearly every company is now operating on networks outside of their ownership, leading to an increasingly a multi-cloud, serverless, IT architecture.

While this approach has a myriad of benefits, not least in increased agility for businesses, there can be some aspects to watch out for. By relying on a wide variety of third-parties, companies are creating a digital footprint with a host of security issues and vulnerabilities that they may simply be unaware of, through no fault of their own.

Meanwhile IT teams can be in a situation where they find it extremely difficult to predict, understand and deal with performance issues. For example, ThousandEyes recently looked at how companies are treating their ever-expanded network and found that seven out of 10 FTSE 100 firms are still vulnerable to outages. Overall, this evolving landscape creates a visibility gap‘ for companies.

Yet multi-cloud and its associated complexities are here to stay, despite this clear issue. Gartner predictsthat multi-cloud will actually become the norm for 70% of enterprises by the end of this year, compared to less than 10% in 2015. Meanwhile, Cisco estimated that more than half of enterprises already use an average of four different cloud vendors.

However, despite this shift to serverless services, and the critical issue around visibility, downtime just isn’t an option for companies in today’s interconnected world. For example, Amazon lost an estimated $70+ million due to IT issues during last year’s Prime Day retail event.

Such loss of control and network visibility is hugely damaging for a company. It not only impacts upon the IT team, but can have a profoundly negative impact on everything from brand reputation, to employee productivity, to revenues, as experienced by Amazon.

Network issues can also of course affect digital experience, which has emerged as a key competitive factor. By 2020, it is predicted to overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

This move to serverless computing is driving the need for enterprises to develop a digital experience strategy, a relatively new challenge for organisations. Digital experience visibility isn’t just about maintaining your presence online, but is actually a business-critical issue, that will only grow in importance as the digital experience becomes a key differentiator for companies.

Essentially, monitoring digital experience gets you to whyan issue might occur, which sounds simple but can be hard to diagnose in this age of multi-cloud. If something goes wrong, the operations team needs to know why. Depth of visibility matters.

Digital experience monitoring offers a lens to view how every network including your WAN, the Internet and cloud provider networks are impacting app delivery (even public cloud providers can at times experience performance issues). Sometimes those are internal to them, and sometimes they are due to forces beyond anyone’s control, like power outages or compromised internet routing halfway around the world.

If a business’ workloads and monitoring are both in the same public cloud provider, when there’s an issue with that provider, they’re going to be both down and totally blind. This is not a great plan for having visibility over a sprawling IT infrastructure.

Getting to why can make the difference between hours or days of service disruption or keeping your digital users and customers delighted. There has never been so much choice for the customer, which means that no business, regardless of size, can afford to take their digital experience, or their ability to deal with issues related to it, for granted.

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