As the rate of cloud adoption continues to surge, many organizations are struggling to monitor and operate dynamic and complex cloud instances. This is especially true given the widespread popularity of microservices environments that allow code to scale to hundreds of thousands of nodes.
Making sense of growing volumes of data in real-time within the context of the entire technology stack requires organizations to embrace the practice of observability that uses data to deliver answers and drive better business outcomes.
What is observability?
To understand observability, it is important first to understand what monitoring is and what it lacks. Monitoring allows organizations to gain key metrics on the current state of infrastructure tools and system performance. While it helps reveal malfunctions, it does not provide insight into why the software or hardware is behaving the way it is.
Observability, on the other hand, helps in answering the “why.” It allows application teams to identify the root cause of issues and efficiently manage the ever-increasing complexity of modern applications and systems. Using advanced software intelligence, continuous automation, and AI assistance, it goes a step beyond conventional monitoring and delivers advanced traceability into application health and performance and crucial insights for driving true optimization.
Offering an integrated suite of technologies and practices, observability enables teams to know not just what is happening within their applications, but to also take meaningful action – irrespective of the underlying architecture or type of application.
Why has observability become so important?
Conventional application performance monitoring tools were extremely effective in unearthing issues and gaps when software systems were largely monolithic and release cycles long and cumbersome. But as cloud-native applications replace monoliths and rapidly grow in size and complexity, traditional monitoring approaches are proving to be extremely resource and cost-intensive – and much less effective.
Why observability is important today:
- The pressure of digital transformation: Just as data helps drive the digital economy, observability provides real-time insights to help teams deliver reliable digital services, improving both the customer experience and the bottom line.
- The complexity of cloud-native environments: Since traditional dashboards fail at pinpointing new issues and roadblocks, observability is needed to provide a more actionable approach to application performance management.
- The adoption of microservices architectures: Observability enables teams to get a detailed understanding of system health problems in every component of dynamically scaling microservices environments and to proactively resolve issues – instead of just putting out fires.
- The need for continuous path traceability for a given application: With many teams contributing to software development from multiple geo-graphical zones, observability provides distributed insights into the various aspects of a project, allowing them to track specs, changes, requests, results, and versions from a single data source.
What benefits does observability provide?
Advanced observability addresses the challenges of cloud-native applications by proposing a better way of collecting data from all system components to gain complete and effortless visibility, offering benefits such as:
- Continuous data monitoring: Applications under development are prone to multiple errors. Observability provides continuous data monitoring, so no issue goes unnoticed or unresolved.
- Advanced root cause analysis: Instead of simply presenting monitoring data via a dashboard, observability enables advanced root cause analysis, allowing teams to pinpoint malfunctioning components, understand the origin of issues, and take steps to eliminate them.
- Automatic discovery and instrumentation: Through complete and always-on coverage in highly dynamic environments – with zero manual configuration – observability allows for continuous and automatic discovery and instrumentation.
- Topology information: Using observability, application development teams can also get a better understanding of the millions of interdependencies in modern ecosystems, so they can monitor and track data across the full stack.
- Better system health: Since observability provides teams with code-level visibility, teams can effectively detect change points in data and make decisions to improve system health and performance.
- Enhanced customer experiences: By delivering actionable answers to ensure modern applications work as intended, observability helps deliver the best user experiences and business outcomes possible – with the least amount of time, effort, and resources.
As organizations embrace multi-cloud strategies, microservices architectures, and continuous release pipelines, observability helps maintain optimum system health, performance, and functionality. According to the global State of Observability 2022 report, observability helps cut downtime costs by a whopping 90%, which translates into an estimated savings of $23.8 million annually. At the same time, it helps achieve 37% better mean time to detect (MTTD), as well as 69% better mean time to resolution (MTTR) for unplanned downtime – so you can run an always-on business.
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Check out our related PDF: Observability for Modern Applications