What is application observability? 

Mobile Trends & Technology

In the world of complex and dynamic systems’ architectures, understating the exact reasons for any malfunctions immediately is crucially important. This is what observability is all about.

What is observability?

Observability is a measure of how well the internal states of a system can be inferred from knowledge of its external outputs (as in Wikipedia). In simpler terms, it makes you understand the reason for a malfunction of your application by tracking and processing telemetry data. 

The application’s observability is based on three pillars: 

  • metrics: numeric representations of data measured over an interval of time – they help you detect a problem,
  • traces, representing a journey of a request through a given system – they tell you where the problem is,
  • logs, text records of a given event – they enable you to troubleshoot your code. 

Together, they give deep and thorough visibility into systems and allow developers to understand the root cause of any issues that may arise. 

To sum up: observability allows teams to observe their systems in real-time, making it possible to spot and deal with issues immediately, before they cause significant problems for end users. 

Why is observability beneficial?

Observability benefits organizations as it: 

  • allows for effective monitor the systems,
  • allows the detection of bugs and problems that are otherwise difficult to identify,
  • speeds up troubleshooting,
  • reduces costs and time to market,
  • reduces alert fatigue,
  • improves customers’ experience,
  • increases productivity and effectiveness of developers.

Differences between monitoring and observability

As a relatively new term, the word observability is often used as a synonym for monitoring. The reality is they are two separate concepts that cannot replace one another, but strongly depend on each other. 

Let us explain: monitoring is a process of using telemetry data to understand an application’s health and system’s performance over time, while observability allows one to understand the inner state of the system by analyzing all available outputs in real time. Monitoring is always reactive, while observability helps in proactive prevention.

The most important tools for observability  

If you want your systems to work flawlessly and be observable, you need good and reliable observability tools. 

Here are some of the most important and useful ones: 

  • AppDynamics provides comprehensive application performance monitoring,
  • Dynatrace which provides an AI-based software intelligence platform for observability,
  • Lightstep, natively combining metrics and tracing,
  • Grafana, a multi-platform open-source analytics and interactive visualization web application,
  • Datadog is an observability service providing monitoring of servers, databases, tools, and services through a SaaS-based analytics platform.

Adopt observability now

With the recent shift to remote work and the online world, observability became even more critical than it used to be. According to LogicMonitor’s report on observability, 93% of IT leaders say that IT observability is a foundational part of running a successful modern enterprise. By adopting it to your organization, you will contribute to its innovation culture and to the delivery of the best products for your customers.  

If you are keen to speak about observability in general, or any tools you want to introduce in particular, do get in touch with our team

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