Agencies need visibility for the right people at the right time.
“I’m tired of being blamed for issues outside of my control and responsibility” is a refrain frequently heard from technologists across the vast federal IT landscape, as they work hard to keep networks and IT resources up and running.
The federal sector is burdened by certain challenges that can disrupt the flow of how IT teams support mission goals. Agencies are faced with a barrage of changing policies, regulations, administrations, funding constraints and priorities, and are under tremendous pressure to modernize their IT infrastructure. In recent months, this pressure has compounded with the sudden surge of employees working from home. Visibility into the performance of critical networks and applications is more imperative as IT departments support a more distributed, remote workforce. It can also prove that modernization efforts yield results.
The cross section of networks, cybersecurity, and applications existing in the cloud, on-premises, as well as in hybrid environments adds a layer of complexity that multiple teams working across multiple domains must manage. Not surprisingly, given this scenario, agencies grapple with people, processes and technology challenges across their enterprise. Operating as an IT solution partner in this unique environment, rather than helping improve quality and functionality, the challenge is often to help IT administrators avoid the blame game.
Enterprise Visibility Tools Help IT Get Out of the Blame Game
IT modernization efforts are unlikely to yield the desired outcomes for administrators who lack visibility into resources from a holistic enterprise perspective. Does the application team know how a change in code might have trickling effects across the network and security protocols? Does the network team know how the changes across MPLS and internet circuits will impact their security application layers, as well as their end users? Does the cybersecurity team know how the tools they deploy impact application and network teams? Agencies need visibility for the right people at the right time, especially with the surge of devices being added to the network that move beyond the perimeter.
How do agencies weave visibility into a sprawling heterogeneous infrastructure? It starts with tools, people and processes. To meet this requirement, vendors continue to expand their core capabilities. We see this trend when network infrastructure providers layer on application and security components. Meanwhile, siloed IT teams have traditionally just focused on their respective set of tools. While vendor consolidation has its benefits, it can lead to a blame game when IT leaders are not in consensus on who is responsible for the various components of consolidated tools. If an agency buys a tool that the network team thinks is a network tool with some security built into it, while the security team thinks it is a security tool with some network management capability built in, both teams end up in the war room playing the blame game when something fails. This is not simply a people and process issue. Visibility tools can help agencies to quickly identify where the issue is so that troubleshooting can be carried out by the team responsible for that part of the infrastructure.
With IT consolidation playing a big role in the mission to modernize, successful C-level executives—chief information officers, chief information security officers, chief data officers, etc.—have taken the lead to forge agreements across all of the IT stakeholders and built in visibility as a requirement. Agencies that have been able to move their organizations in the same direction are reaping the benefits.
The ‘Visibility Gap’ and User Experience
The IT team might think the application is running normally, so why is the workforce still complaining about application performance? The end users might think it is normal for applications to take so long to boot up. In today’s automated software environments and shortened agile development cycles, there is always some type of application change affecting the end-user experience. Not surprisingly, users might sound the alarm about issues impacting application performance before IT is aware of problems.
However, we know that going on autopilot does not mean that you can close your eyes and take your hands off the steering wheel. Just because an application is seemingly running does not mean that it is performing optimally for the end user. Even minutes of time lost to suboptimal performance can impact budgets and the ability to deliver when multiplied across the organization. Poorly performing applications or networks not only contribute to loss of productivity but could also hamper the workforce from delivering vital services to citizens, as well as achieving mission goals. Consequently, gaining visibility into the user experience is critical.
By monitoring performance at the endpoint which gathers and sends performance metrics in real time, IT teams can transform every device into a self-monitoring platform with an integrated view of the multiple streams of data. Gaining visibility into how the end-user interacts with their device, the application and network performance provides a comprehensive view of real user experience.
IT leaders can better ensure that their team’s modernization efforts are effective by adding a visibility overlay to identify problems more efficiently and direct them to appropriate teams. Moving beyond the blame game requires the ability to solve issues that end users did not even know existed. Solving problems before they feel the impact.
Michael Riordan is the chief executive officer of RavenTek.