It’s no secret that businesses across Asia are fascinated with super apps. From Malaysia to Indonesia to India, some of the most prominent brands have invested heavily to create cloud-native apps driven by micro-services architectures, integrating with myriad of APIs, enabling tens of thousands of transactions every day, grossing millions of dollars in revenues. It’s important to bear in mind that those investing in super apps aren’t just digital natives but also conglomerate organizations looking to consolidate their range of offerings.

Cisco is strategically engaged with many leaders in Asia’s super apps race, and their interest in full stack observability has spiked exponentially in recent months. Most of them have realized that observability is critical to the success of their business and have begun charting out an enterprise-wide observability strategy.

Scaling confidently with full stack observability

Applications that are born on the cloud usually start off with simple, easy-to-buy, and often siloed, monitoring tools to triage issues reactively in an effort to decrease Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) and increase Mean Time To Incident (MTTI). However, as they scale up their user and revenue base, and get more complex – often servicing millions of customers, their penalty for disruptions increases and business and revenue impact of outages become significantly higher.

A super app can fail for several reasons at any given point in time, but every time it does, the brand loses face in front of its customers, risks losing customers to competitors, and most importantly, loses revenue for itself and its partners from transactions that couldn’t be completed.

Given the growing intolerance among consumers towards suboptimal application experiences, any outage – irrespective of whether it’s caused due to problems within the application, the cloud that it runs on, or the internet connectivity at the user’s end – creates a compromised digital user experience for which the brand is eventually blamed for. The leaders at the helm of these digital initiatives and super apps across Asia have started to recognize this, and that has driven them towards Cisco’s new-age full stack observability technology.

Cisco’s full stack observability offering combines the power of AppDynamics, ThousandEyes, and Intersight. Together they help technology and business teams to gain end-to-end visibility & insights into applications, systems, network, security and internet in a cloud native, distributed environment.

As these digital businesses scale and grow into massively valued unicorns, being able to pinpoint root causes of application problems in real time, from 3rd party APIs down to code level issues, visualizing every component of their infrastructure, from server, to database, to hybrid and cloud native environments, seeing the external networks their applications rely on, and detecting application code and security vulnerabilities in minutes, makes a world of difference.

It allows their engineering and technology teams to quickly identify the most business impacting anomalies, supports to assure optimal application performance at all times to all users, and also pinpoints to resolve any issues with ISPs, SaaS Apps, DNS or third-party providers. This goes a long way in achieving their ultimate goal of ensuring a seamless, hassle-free user experience at every touch point that facilitates transactions on their app, without any interruptions whatsoever.

What attracts most of our customers and prospects to Cisco’s observability solutions – including cloud-focused businesses building super apps, serving millions of customers and facilitating transactions worth billions of dollars – is the fact that we make it possible to correlate full stack performance with key business metrics (like conversions) and quickly resolve issues before they impact the bottom line.

Surviving data deluge by contextualizing observability insights

Looking under the hood, the fundamental building blocks of any observability platform are metrics, events, logs, and traces (MELT). Think of it as raw data. In the digital era, given the size and scale of operations, there’s no shortage of data and traditional ‘monitoring’ based approach can result in metrics overload or data deluge.

The key to success lies in making sense of it all by tying the data points to business outcomes such as conversions, user drops, revenues etc. That contextualization is what Cisco’s observability platform offers at scale and helps you expand and grow with confidence.

What are those next steps? It depends on the organization, industry, your team structure, and its priorities.

Truth be told, in today’s world, anybody running an app – especially a cloud focused super app – has several battles to fight, all with finite resources. Since Cisco’s observability platform ties the data to business outcomes, it’s easy to quickly navigate to issues which will have the largest impact on the end-user’s ability to use the app and complete a revenue generating transaction.

Full Stack Observability solutions from Cisco are required to solve problems of today and are based on exploring properties and patterns not defined in advance, with an inherent ability to:

  • capture and process high cardinality metrics
  • embrace modern standards like open telemetry by design
  • perform full-fidelity distributed tracing eliminating the need of out-dated sampling techniques – so that you never miss an anomaly
  • perform AI driven troubleshooting based on real-time cognition engines that eliminate false positives
  • and, most importantly, tying all these to your most important, revenue generating, business transactions so that you are not tracking a bunch of IT metrics – but you are observing what makes most sense to your business.

Once you manage to set up real-time observability across your modern technology stack — applications, software-defined compute, storage, services, network, including the internet etc. – you will have in-depth visibility into the behaviour, performance and health of your applications and supporting infrastructure via high-fidelity telemetry (metrics, events, logs and traces aka MELT) collected from the entire technology landscape.

With this, your technology teams can develop a deep understanding of highly distributed application topologies and dependencies across domains. They will also have the ability to easily sift through large amount of data and correlate application performance to business outcomes. With actionable insights, they can also prioritize what matters most, reduce mean time to identify (MTTI)/resolve (MTTR), and consistently provide that flawless digital experience users today demand.

Security in Cisco’s DNA and observability platform

Digital businesses and their super apps tend to scale quickly and when mature, in Asia, can serve hundreds of millions of people. As a result, they’re a powerhouse of information and incredibly attractive to cybercriminals who’re becoming increasingly sophisticated every day.

Analysts studying Asia know that cybercrime has and will continue to be on the rise and that the threat landscape will continue to evolve.

Digital apps, therefore, need to focus on security – and any lapses can seriously threaten their reputation in the market. While their primary line of defense can be traditional perimeter security, Cisco’s full stack observability platform now draws further power from Cisco’s security solutions to offer Runtime Application Self-Protection (RASP) capabilities.

As a result, organizations can now plug runtime vulnerabilities that have become a prominent threat vector simply because it’s like finding a needle [line of code] in a haystack [application]. Cisco’s full stack observability platform offers ‘runtime security’ as part of the solution as a plug-and-play technology (as easy as checking a box to enable it). With this, customers are able to add a layer of security right inside the application, bolstering its defense capabilities instantly.

Observability is the new ‘monitoring’ and latency is the new ‘outage’

Armed with all the knowledge about observability, how it works, what it does, and why it’s critical to tie the data to business insights, it’s important to acknowledge that full stack observability is a new paradigm altogether.

We live in a world where applications, networks and systems have all become incredibly complex. Cloud-native apps, Open-API & Microservices based architectures etc. are ubiquitous. As tech-complexity increases, it creates further obfuscation of online/digital user experience. This complexity has in-turn resulted in generating massive volumes of metrics, events, logs & traces.

Many organizations are still at the stage of traditional application monitoring to solve this measure and manage problem.

Technology teams need to be in front of the maturity curve here because expectation of experience from today’s super apps is nothing less than world class. New generation application users across Asia have all been spoiled by the likes of Netflix and Instagram. Today they view any kind of latency or sub-optimal application experience as an ‘outage’ not a ‘performance degradation’ and end-up abandoning the service altogether.

Traditionally monitoring tools like Application Performance Monitoring systems etc. could make your life easier – but as we step into this new cloud-native age, we need to think beyond monitoring or tooling or technical solutions that allows teams to watch and understand the state of their systems. If you are in monitoring today, you have to still look at full stack observability.

Technology teams running applications will have no idea what to monitor anymore as it’s impossible to continually define what to monitor. Further, even if monitoring was possible, actions taken based on that data would be reactive, costing today’s businesses a ton of money and damaging the brand value. That simply can’t be the way to operate anymore. The world is much too evolved for that, and businesses need to evolve too.

Observability gives us the tools to see through the complexity in today’s world, make sense of it, gain insights, prioritize tasks, make informed decisions, and even take preventive actions automatically (Think ‘No-Ops’!).

Full stack observability is the need of the hour, and for Asia’s digital business and their super apps, its key to business success!