What Is Application Full-Stack Observability and Why Should You Care?

The use of digital services is becoming an unconscious extension of human behaviour, and we are increasingly dependent on our devices and apps – digital services that we use. Efficiently monitoring software running on different devices, platforms and networks is getting increasingly difficult for many organisations. However, there are comprehensive solutions to tackle this growing challenge.

It has become second nature for us to daily connect to various digital services for entertainment, social interaction, shopping, banking and more. We expect everything to work at the touch of a button, and we have very little tolerance for poor performance of the apps and services we use.

Especially in this day and age when working from home is the new normal and ordering goods online instead of walking down the street to your favourite store is not just convenient, but rather the only way to get the things you need and want.

As online businesses compete for user’s attention, it is becoming increasingly important that digital services operate at peak performance around the clock.

Full-Stack Observability – the Answer to a Modern Problem

Applications are evolving and becoming more complex to meet the need for resilience and speed that customers expect. Different software architectures and deployment patterns are leading the way for modern applications. Microservices running in containers orchestrated by Kubernetes and distributed across on-prem and cloud infrastructures, often relying on public services or APIs, are becoming the new norm.

So how should an organisation effectively monitor its software running on both on-prem and cloud infrastructures and spanning multiple public networks? The simple answer is full-stack observability.

A Comprehensive Solution

Flint has been closely following the evolution of full-stack observability solutions. We have been at the forefront of developing learning services to enable and support partners and customers to accelerate the adoption of these solutions. With our in-depth knowledge of various monitoring and optimisation tools and the concept of full-stack observability, we help reduce the time it takes for partners and customers to benefit from them.

Let’s outline what we mean full-stack observability and what can help you ensure application performance on all stacks.

Business Impact

Putting the business lenses on top of the technical metrics offers you a unique perspective of your application performance. Knowing the revenue the software is generating, the number of shoes sold in the last campaign, or the list of users who were affected by an outage is something that business owners usually like to see.

End-User Experience

Business impact data is based on underlying technical metrics gathered by monitoring the end-user experience and application performance metrics. Understanding where users are coming from and how they behave in your digital services is important to identify where you should invest more time and effort to make the digital experience even better.


Quickly spotting anomalies in the software that supports your business is sometimes the line between a successful digital business and a failing one. Effectively finding the root cause of problems in application code is typically done using Application Performance Monitoring (APM) tools.


Monitoring and optimising infrastructure is becoming increasingly important to ensure application performance. Monitoring the bed on which applications run can reveal potential risks in the infrastructure resources used by applications. An application-centric approach to infrastructure optimisation ensures that applications get the right amount of resources they need when they need them.


As applications become more distributed and deployed in multi-cloud environments, it’s harder than ever to monitor the networks where applications operate. Eliminating the network as the cause of application problems remains essential to minimising mean time to resolution. Customers come from all over the world; their requests traverse networks over which you have no control. The ability to see more where you traditionally couldn’t, can give you a unique perspective on network monitoring.


The biggest security threats in applications are exposed by vulnerable code. Continuous threat identification and blocking can be achieved by detecting dependencies in application code and configuration-level security vulnerabilities.

Pinpoint Issues Easily Throughout the Stack

You may think of several tools that can address the issues discussed above. A typical organisation monitoring its applications might deploy as many as 10 tools to achieve visibility across all stacks. The problem with such an approach is that the tools and the teams that use them operate in their own siloes. There is no real correlation between the data collected by all the tools. This approach requires multi-domain knowledge and is not simple enough for quick identification and prevention of application problems. And as Enterprises migrate their business-critical applications to the Cloud or use SaaS, here is where legacy monitoring tools start to fall short, because they do not provide the visibility over the network you don’t own. It becomes difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint issues impacting customer experience where there are so many moving parts and tools you normally have shown only part of the stack.

The key in the full-stack observability model is not monitoring each part of the stack in isolation. The traditionally isolated entities should be monitored and viewed as a living organism. Only then can you make real-time correlations between the technical and business metrics to get optimal performance from your applications and your business. Having end-to-end visibility allows your business to reclaim/improve reputation by reducing MTTI/MTTR time from hours/days to minutes. This ensures you meet your SLAs/OLAs and deliver best customer or employee experience.

A great example is the combination of Cisco AppDynamics, Cisco ThousandEyes, and Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO) that can achieve full-stack observability and performance optimisation within a single platform and integration ecosystem.

Full-Stack Observability Made Easier

Cisco AppDynamics is recognised by Gartner as a leader among APM platforms1 and provides an intuitive AIOps platform to achieve observability across all stacks. It offers Business Observability with its Analytics and BusinessIQ capabilities that enable advanced dashboards for executives. Anomalies in software behaviour can be uncovered in real-time with Machine Learning algorithms and advanced root cause analysis techniques. Application security can be continuously monitored with built-in Cisco Secure Application functionality. Where AppDynamics lacks deeper visibility, it can be easily augmented with seamless integrations to Cisco ThousandEyes and IWO.

AppDynamics Flow Maps create a unique visual experience for easier troubleshooting
of application performance issues down to the level of lines in the code.

Cisco ThousandEyes provides visibility into networks that are typically out-of-band for monitoring tools. Because user requests and application queries traverse many different public networks, including the Internet, it is sometimes difficult to understand whether the network is to blame for poor digital experience.

Cisco ThousandEyes provides over 200 vantage points worldwide from where tests can be performed against digital services that you require for an operational digital business. A path visualisation tool uncovers problematic paths in networks and can identify where users are having issues when accessing applications from different locations and networks. The integration with AppDynamics allows you to stay within a single platform for your application monitoring and still get valuable information about the performance of digital services on the internet and other WAN networks. You can read how ThousandEyes saved the sanity of the Atlassian Network Team on the blog post here.

The ThousandEyes Path Visualization tool highlights problematic network paths.

Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer (IWO) is an indispensable tool for proactive infrastructure optimisation. IWO models your infrastructure environment as a market of buyers and sellers connected in a supply chain. This supply chain represents the flow of resources from the data center through the physical tiers of your environment, from disk arrays, storage, volumes to the virtual tier, virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters, and containers. Each unit within the supply chain is examined, and IWO recommends necessary optimisation based on current application requirements. Integration with Cisco AppDynamics provides IWO with additional insight into application performance. By ingesting application business metrics, IWO can make better decisions to optimise the infrastructure, not only to scale resources in real time based on application requirements, but also to downsize where possible to save costs.

Intersight Workload Optimizer provides optimisation actions that can improve
the performance of your application from the ground up.

Better Business Performance Thanks to Full-Stack Observability

The link between traditional application monitoring, business metrics, infrastructure and network metrics is often overlooked. The reality is that the performance of the underlying stacks directly impacts business’s performance, and monitoring these stacks within a unified platform is critical to achieving consistent performance and cost optimisation.

Are you ready to begin your observability journey? If you’re interested in monitoring your application stack from a business perspective, performing network health checks and custom transactional tests, or optimising your infrastructure with an app-centric approach, then we are happy to consult on solutions and support you on your journey.

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1 Appdynamics, Cisco AppDynamics Is a Leader for the Ninth Time in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring, 13 April 2021, https://www.appdynamics.com/blog/news/gartner-magic-quadrant-2021/

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