Demystifying Observability With Four Simple Questions

2022 was a big year for observability. Many businesses made concerted efforts to gain a better understanding of its value. Leading technology research firms applauded its potential impact to simplify increasingly complex IT environments, with Gartner featuring observability in its “Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends” report. Analysts predicted a bright future for the technology, with some suggesting observability adoption would increase at a compound annual growth of 8.2%.

Based on these and other developments, as we move through 2023, there is evidence that this will be the year observability achieves mainstream understanding and adoption. However, despite this positive momentum, there still appears to be a lack of clarity around the technology. Questions range from why organizations should consider implementing observability to what observability even is.

With that in mind, here are four simple questions designed to help demystify observability.

What the Heck Is Observability?

Observability is often described as the evolution of monitoring—a technology that has been incredibly valuable for many organizations for years. With monitoring, organizations have gathered comprehensive data from across their computer systems and digital services to identify problems with their applications, performance issues related to the databases they use, and much more. Now, with observability, organizations can not only collect this data, but also receive the actionable intelligence needed to effectively solve these problems.

Observability solutions can automatically analyze massive amounts of information across a business’ entire computer system, which is often made up of a complex network of applications, databases, clouds, and more. With observability, users can pinpoint causes of outages or performance issues affecting their digital services and receive actionable insights to act on and resolve these problems quickly. Modern observability solutions—which contain advanced AI and machine learning capabilities—can even use this information to predict and proactively prevent problems before they occur.

Who Does It Benefit?

Now that we know what observability is, let’s discuss who it can benefit. Today’s technology teams are often overworked and understaffed, and all of them could use some help. Observability has been shown to be a particularly important tool for many different teams, including, but not limited to, IT operations, DevOps, database administrators, and security operations teams. With observability, these technical staffs have a powerful solution that proactively provides analysis and insights to identify and resolve problems and optimize performance of their company’s digital services quickly and efficiently.

This proactivity reduces the amount of time teams spend analyzing data and reactively resolving problems. In turn, these different technology teams are free to focus on more productive work. For IT managers, this can mean a renewed focus on achieving service-level agreements. Developers can again focus on innovating and creating exciting applications. Meanwhile, security teams can focus on preventing digital threats.

Okay, but Why Should I Care?

As we mentioned earlier, today’s organizations rely on countless applications, infrastructures, databases, and remote workforces to get business done. This has resulted in complex “hybrid” IT environments and computer systems that are far too complicated for humans to manage.

Technology teams have difficulty seeing across these environments, meaning that when a problem arises, it may take longer to identify and solve. This can result in applications that are not working or services that are not available, which can be costly.

To remain competitive, companies today need their computer systems, applications, and services to be highly performant and highly available. Observability has emerged as an invaluable tool to ensure this. With observability, businesses can simplify the management of their computer systems to ensure excellent experiences for customers, employees, and partners. The result is reduced costs, optimized performance, and improved operational resiliency.

I Use Monitoring Already—How Can I Evolve?

For organizations that are already leveraging monitoring solutions, IT leaders should start by detailing which tools and processes their business has in place. This will allow technology teams to determine where there are gaps and how observability solutions can help to close them. Companies should not feel that they need to replace their current monitoring technologies but instead can use observability to supplement their practices.

One concern that organizations have when considering implementing observability is which additional cloud-native architectures or technologies their businesses may adopt in the future.

Thankfully, modern observability solutions are designed to help companies regardless of where they are on their cloud journeys, whether on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid model. Regardless of how distributed an organization’s applications, databases, and services are, where they run, or how often they change, there is an observability solution that fits every company.