“Why has Exchange been running so slow? I’ve checked everything in the O365 administration portal. The message transfer agents, the databases, and all the services are green. It must be networking! Can we check the network? I am sending the ticket over!”

When a service was located in the private data center, IT had control of almost every aspect of it. They had access to every layer of the service. Hardware, virtualization, storage, OS, application, and network. They could instrument, tune and, if needed, adjust. And because network challenges were mostly limited to the data center, the issue of latency did not often enter the picture.

Moving to the cloud flipped the script from a monitoring perspective. The old monitoring tools no longer worked. Instead, IT had to leverage the vendor’s portal. Their view into the service was limited. They must trust the provider provisioned their hardware properly, that they tuned their systems to meet demand, that the service was patched, and most of all, because the service was no longer in their private, controlled data center, latency now entered the picture front and center.

To maintain a competitive position for the business, IT has been asked to invest in services designed to ensure the productivity of a suddenly remote workforce. While a major challenge, it’s also an opportunity for IT to define the new technologies that will connect users to important business resources, such as Microsoft 365, Salesforce, and SAP. This has created the need for a new capability delivered from the cloud, and part of a security services portfolio at many companies: Digital Experience Monitoring.

By extending access out to the remote workforce, every user, application, and device has now been connected to the public internet. Unlike a traditional enterprise network, IT does not control the internet.  User performance issues are often created because of jitter or loss of application availability, which are often caused by a configuration mistake, or an issue such as a denial-of-service attack. We need a new approach to securely and seamlessly control access over the internet so users can have the best experience.

Three pillars of digital experience

  • Simple: For far too long, tooling to measure and monitor application performance have been complex, hard to understand and targeted at the engineering teams. The design intent of cloud delivered security services is to quickly detect the problem, alert the end user, arm them with the relevant information, or quickly escalate to the first level of support for resolution. Doing so reduces the burden on an already taxed IT staff and promotes self-service as the modern workforce has become more adept at solving IT issues because of the consumerization of technology.
  • Fast innovation cycle: Cloud-native security platforms are built with the same software defined flexibility that has come to networks. Most security services are hybrid, running on multiple public cloud providers such as AWS, Google Cloud, and Oracle Cloud. As a result, development goes fast, as does the innovation cycle. At the security platform level, it’s now possible to incorporate feedback from customers in weeks, not quarters. The major cloud providers are constantly innovating and upgrading their capabilities as they compete for customers.
  • Built for the future: On the backend, these cloud-native security solutions are pulling from a data lake which includes not only network telemetry, but also insights from agents and security data. This allows for queries into the state of the network, devices, and applications. 

As an example, an operations team member can proactively probe the data to understand trends which could impact the workforce. What if, after conducting a review of recent tickets, the team sees a rise in tickets involving application performance that’s not caused by the network or the application. Instead, the devices are suspected. What if the operations team had the ability to ask the data lake about the device and it returned a result that 100% of the tickets involved older laptops with minimum levels of memory? That’s incredibly valuable actionable intelligence. This moves the operations team from a reactive to proactive stance. 

Helping the modern enterprise move faster at lower cost and supporting the demands of the modern workforce. That’s what security services delivered from the cloud are all about. Companies can’t do this without prioritizing and incorporating monitoring for digital experiences.

John Spiegel, director of strategy, Axis Security