Comprehensive Observability

I had the pleasure of producing my first analyst report in one of the hottest categories for GigaOm—cloud observability. Here are my thoughts on the research process, the technology space, and the vendors, as well as some advice for IT decision-makers.

For those who have been living under the rock, who have never heard of observability, here’s a helpful excerpt from my report:

Observability is an emerging set of practices, platforms, and tools that goes beyond monitoring to provide insight into the internal state of systems by analyzing external outputs. Monitoring has been a core function of IT for decades, but old approaches have become inadequate for a variety of reasons—cloud deployments, agile development methodology, continuous deployments, and new DevOps practices among them. These have changed the way systems, infrastructure, and applications need to be observed so events and incidents can be acted upon quickly. At the heart of the observability concept is a very basic premise: quickly learn what happens within your IT to avoid extended outages. And in the unfortunate event of an outage, you need to ensure that you can get to the root cause of it fast. Outages are measured by Mean Time To Resolution (MTTR) and it is the goal of the observability concept to drive the MTTR value to as close to zero as possible.

I had the privilege to speak with more than 20 companies and more than 50 customer executives on this topic. Some of the vendors have been around for over a century (looking at you, IBM) and some are barely a year old. For this first report, we decided to include 14 companies. The plan is to update the report shortly with two additional companies, as their briefings were delayed due to year-end, COVID-19, and other logistical reasons. While I want to save the element of surprise, the two vendors are well-known in this space. If you are wondering why a certain company that is reimagining the observability space didn’t make it into my report, fear not, it is coming soon.

A quick note about the GigaOm Radar chart and how it works compared to other charts you might be used to seeing from analyst firms. First, in the GigaOm Radar chart, the best solutions are those set closest to center. Don’t get hung up on that upper-right quadrant. Read carefully how our classifications are done. There is a clear distinction among the quadrants, with mature solutions residing in the upper hemisphere and more innovation-focused ones appearing in the lower hemisphere. Meanwhile, the left and right hemispheres indicate if a solution is more focused on individual features (Feature Play) or on broader platform engagement (Platform Play). The point being, any of the companies in my report can help you depending on your situation. So please, read all the vendor capsules carefully and not just the Radar graphic and the description that goes with it.

After all is said and done, I am blown away by the innovation that is coming out of some of these young companies. As I said earlier, the cloud has leveled the playing field, and smaller and bigger companies are now competing equally to solve customer problems.

If you are a company in the service/application/infrastructure observability space and would like to brief me, please reach out to schedule a time. I will be more than happy to engage you and possibly consider you for the upcoming refresh of the report if it is not too late.

Comprehensive Observability: Core to Future-Proofing your IT Infrastructure.

If you are a CxO struggling to make sense of this IT operations mess, I would welcome a chance to talk to you about your experience and see if there is anything I can do to help.

If you are an end user of any of these solutions in the observability space, I’d love to hear from you as I continue my research in this space. I want to know what you did right, what you did wrong, and how easy (or difficult) your journey was. If your case is compelling enough, we might want to write it up as a use-case/case study, if you are willing. Or I could host you on my podcast to discuss how you solved your challenge, or what made you select a certain solution and the thought process you went through.

I did share this report confidentially with some customer executives to get their feedback. Here is some of the feedback I received:

“I wish I had your report before I made the decision to buy xyz.”

“You are spot on with the company we are using. We chose them for the strengths you highlighted, only to find the weaknesses later on.”

“I asked my guys to stop the evaluation process of our observability mission and read your report first. I think you have some nuggets that are going to be very helpful with our process. Thank you!”

I would like to hear your views, opinions, and opposing takes. If you like the report, please help me socialize this post. If you disagree, reach out to me to let me know why—I would love to hear your views.

You can access the full report here if you are a GigaOm subscriber or client. Otherwise, you’ll be treated to an abstract (though I’m told you can expect some freely available coverage of the report on the GigaOm website next week). If you are not a client, you may want to get on board—you are missing some great work done by my colleagues. You can contact GigaOm here.

Still have questions? Reach out to me, I’m happy to answer them or get you in touch with someone at GigaOm who can. One way or the other, we can help you with your “fully observable, AIOps-infused cloud-native” journey.

Finally, check out the recent blog post I wrote in Forbes on a related topic: “AIOps vs Observability vs Monitoring—What Is The Difference? Are You Using The Right One For Your Enterprise?

This blog post by GigaOm Analyst Andy Thurai was first published on his website, The Field CTO. It is being published here as well at Thurai’s request, so GigaOm readers can learn more about his experience and findings in the cloud observability space. You can find the original post here.

–Ed