Feb 07 2023

Modern Apps are Critical to Business Success. Here’s How to Manage Them

The line is blurring between businesses and their apps. As environments become more complex, businesses need visibility to manage these critical assets.

Applications form the framework of modern business functions. From back-end apps that handle financial and compliance processes to front-end software that empowers employee operations and helps companies connect with customers, it’s no exaggeration to say that business are their applications.

In practice, this means there’s no significant difference between the experiences people have with applications and the experiences they have with a company.

Managing these apps, however, is a growing challenge for businesses. As noted by Bloomberg, large enterprises now deploy an average of 187 apps per year. Staffers switch between these business applications an average of 1,200 times per day, which amounts to four hours per week paying what researchers call the “toggle tax,” the loss of time and efficiency that comes with constant switching.

With apps here to stay, companies need ways to effectively manage these assets anywhere, anytime.

DIVE DEEPER: How Cisco's solutions can help enterprises modernize their environments.

Modern Applications and the Move to Microservices

Traditional applications were monolithic, but modern apps run on microservices.

Think of it as the difference between a single, solid structure and a jigsaw puzzle. Under older frameworks, processes are fundamentally connected, meaning applications run as a single service. If you want to scale one aspect of an app, the entire structure must scale as well.

With a modern microservices framework, however, each application component is self-contained. The components “talk” to each other via application programming interfaces (APIs). This allows any part of an app to scale independently and makes application components portable.

“This makes it possible for businesses to do more with less,” says Wayne Brown, sales engineer manager for AMER Elite Partners at Cisco Systems’ AppDynamics. “We can run our code anywhere. We don’t need to provision hardware and don’t need a server. The move to cloud hyperscalers and microservices allows teams to be more granular.”

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While modern applications let companies keep pace with changing customer and staff expectations, Brown notes that they come with a cost: “Instead of a single thing you deploy, you have multiple services to consider along with dependencies across these services.”

If businesses can’t fully track and manage these dependencies, they will struggle to pinpoint application problems. This can cause downstream issues. For example, if staffers can’t get apps to work as intended, they’ll often take the easiest route to resolution: downloading a new app to bridge the gap. This leads to the problem mentioned above: too many apps and not enough time.

Customers, meanwhile, may simply take their business elsewhere. As Brown points out, problems with business apps aren’t always within the control of the business; they could be a result of network providers changing code or security issues with specific services. From the customer's perspective, however, it doesn’t matter who’s at fault.

“Observability makes it possible to reroute apps as necessary until things are fixed,” Brown says.

EXPLORE: How SSE solutions can help companies improve visibility and streamline security.

Mapping the Stack with Cisco

For Brown, the move to microservices represents a significant shift.

“Previously, things were very structured and controlled,” he says. “Application architectures were very predictable. Now, we’ve evolved from a vertical to a horizontal approach to deployment. We’ve broken it down into smaller components, but each of these components is emitting pieces of telemetry data — a lot of telemetry data.”

To effectively manage modern apps, businesses need to fully map microservices architecture and understand the dependencies that these applications and services have. Cisco Full-Stack Observability can help companies cut through the noise and get to the things that matter.

“We work closely with our partners, such as CDW, to create a fully tailored experience for customers,” Brown says. “Cisco Full-Stack Observability lets companies understand the performance of a user’s experience with an application.”

This makes it possible for businesses to understand what applications are doing and why they’re doing it, in turn helping to pinpoint areas for improvement.

Microservices make it possible to build powerful, flexible applications that help drive business success. Effectively managing these modern apps, however, requires complete visibility up and down the stack.

“Being armed with the right data at the right time is absolute gold,” Brown says. “It keeps applications running, keeps customers happy and keeps the company reputation moving in the right direction.”

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