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Going Cloud-Native: Observability

Last month, we discussed the benefits and pitfalls of going cloud-native. One challenge in a cloud-native environment is observability across the full technical stack.

What is observability?

Monitoring collects the data about an environment or system to determine if it is functioning correctly if the criteria for “correctly” have been defined. In contrast, observability is a more holistic and automated view of what is happening in an application, an environment, or even the software development life cycle.

Observability provides the following benefits: faster troubleshooting and mean time to resolution and increased visibility into your environment, allowing for proactive issue detection. It provides the data and insights to continuously improve processes and tools. If you cannot see (observe!) something happening, it becomes significantly more difficult to fix or improve upon it.

As tech stacks have become more complex, observability is both more difficult to achieve and imperative for teams to understand, prevent, and resolve problems. Cloud-native organizations rely on cloud environments and SaaS tools, which means there are many components they do not directly own. Coordinating observability across these different providers becomes a project in and of itself.

Components of observability

Although observability is more than logging and monitoring, those two activities are part of the data that feeds into observability platforms to provide insights.

Observability contains the following three pillars:

  1. Logs of events and information about the system
  2. Tracing end-to-end runtime performance
  3. Metrics such as CPU usage, memory consumption, and response times help teams set alerts for potential problems

Observability takes all of the data from logs, traces, and metrics across the system to provide insights that organizations can use to improve performance, avoid downtime, and reduce mean time to resolution.

Similar to how DevOps is more than just tools, observability has a culture component that is as important as the tools themselves. The development and operations teams should share information about application and cloud performance, set KPIs together, and collaborate on continuous improvement.

Cloud management platforms

Major cloud vendors have their own observability platforms, including Google Cloud Operations, Azure Monitor, and AWS observability. These focus primarily on the services that you have purchased or are hosting in their respective clouds, so if you need observability across a multi-cloud environment or a full technical stack, then you’ll need to evaluate the features and capabilities of these tools and outside tools such as DataDog or Dynatrace to determine the best one for your requirements.

Get Started with Observability

ReleaseTEAM helps our clients plan for cloud migrations, evaluate tools, including monitoring and observability platforms, and identify opportunities for continuous improvement. If you’d like a quote, just ask.

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