4 min. read

What is Meant by Full Stack Observability?

Before diving into full stack observability, let’s gather some context. Cloud-native, multi-cloud, and distributed environments and containerized, microservices-based applications rely on more interactions and interdependencies than ever before. One application could require hundreds of services to communicate flawlessly through a zero-trust environment.

IDC research found that a typical cloud-native application may have 5 to 15 dependencies. Add to their findings: “over 80% of IT organizations are adopting some degree of agile DevOps methodologies, and many expect that within two years, close to 30% of production workloads will run in containers.”

Full Stack Observability Provides Real-Time, Context-Aware Oversight

Full stack observability (FSO) provides real-time ongoing supervision, analysis, and detection of concerning changes across the complete array of telemetry data emerging from IT sources. The “full stack” aspect indicates that observability tools use data like metrics, events, logs, and traces collected from all environments, applications, networks, infrastructures, and microservices.

It incorporates the end-user experience and adds the business context to the performance analysis.

The goal of FSO in DevOps or DevSecOps is to prevent and solve service problems before they disrupt end-user functionality and business operations. Through full stack observability, teams can provide oversight into the performance and health across all applications and infrastructure. When telemetry data is combined with business key performance indicators, IT systems can be seen through the context of business operations. This helps provide critical intelligence for predicting, preventing, and reacting to issues.

Full Stack Observability Benefits

Today’s complex, distributed, and multi-layered environments create a lot of data, making root cause analysis challenging. FSO tools provide unparalleled visibility, insight, and opportunity to act along with other benefits for development and security teams, as well as the enterprise.

Holistic, cross-team insight: Full stack observability allows multiple IT, business, and operations teams to have insight into technology performance that affects their priorities.

Consistent oversight and responsiveness: Using Full stack observability tools enables one common and complete view, which supports more consistent, reliable, and timely action and service.

Connect the dots between IT, operations, and business functions: Having real-time performance data empowers leaders across the enterprise to collaborate, innovate, and stay diligent.

Improve system performance and health: A deeper and complete view of the entire IT environment provides opportunities to monitor overall system health. Targeting ongoing performance issues leads to more robust systems and fewer issues to resolve.

Reveal blind spots, hidden risks, and dependencies: Making complex systems and data easily visible focuses effort on high-priority issues. It gives teams confidence that they are attentive to the right issues at the right time.

Simplify overall IT monitoring: Complex environments can create tool sprawl where different monitoring solutions are engaged in siloes.

These benefits expand as the team acclimates to one method or tool to observe their environment from end-to-end and experience how FSO enables cross-functional and real-time insights.

Full Stack Observability versus Monitoring

While full stack observability may appear as new solutions for traditional monitoring, there are fundamental differences between the two.

Monitoring looks at signals, creates reports, and sends alerts. Observability ingests telemetry data to infer the status of all technology components, including their dependencies and business context. In some ways, full stack observability amplifies monitoring, which only provides visibility at the domain level, like network, infrastructure, or database.

Traditional monitoring offers insights and enables mitigation after the fact. Because of its holistic, end-to-end, and real-time approach, FSO allows for performance oversight that can prevent problems. It can also track and diagnose problems with artificial intelligence and machine learning. This approach allows teams to find issues across resources and environments and take decisive action sooner. In many ways, observability reveals the root cause that can lead to better performance within the context of dependencies, user experience, and business performance. Where monitoring can create more IT siloes, observability breaks down these fragments. It makes the connections among systems, data, and behaviors concrete and actionable.

Integrating FSO Throughout the SDLC

Today’s cloud-native, DevOps, and continuous development models need full stack observability. This approach maximizes performance and optimizes infrastructure within the context of business objectives. It also reflects on security priorities among IT, operations, and business teams.

Integrating FSO makes sense at a time when teams approach security, performance, and quality earlier in the SDLC. Shifting-left with full stack observability affects testing, assessment, quality, and performance. It uncovers potential problems across the environment earlier. Observability tools use telemetry data to create pipeline gates where insights focus on prevention. This approach maximizes value and deals with issues when they are more manageable and less costly.

And, because FSO shares insights across IT, operations, and business teams, it enhances visibility into complexities that pull teams together rather than placing blame. Solutions achieve buy-in faster, and timelines reflect shifting and shared priorities.

FSO Enables a Culture of Quality and Speed at Scale

Full stack observability goes far beyond monitoring. Teams can confidently manage complexities by ingesting large amounts of telemetry data across all aspects of technologies and environments. Their focus can be prevention, mitigation, and quality improvement.

Modern Cloud-Native Security Starts with Panoptica

Cisco provides a set of core foundational applications to deliver full stack observability, including AppDynamics. As part of the Cisco family, Cisco’s Emerging Technologies and Incubation (ET&I) team is paving the way with “DevOps-friendly” cloud-native security solutions. Our Panoptica solution simplifies cloud-native application security, making it easy to embed into the software development lifecycle. Panoptica protects the full application stack from code to runtime by scanning for security vulnerabilities in the cloud infrastructure, microservices (Containers or Serverless), the software bill of materials, and the interconnecting APIs. And best of all, it integrates with the tools that your application development and SecOps teams are already using. Try it for free!