The term Observability might come as a conundrum for anyone who has been involved in IT Operations over the years, given how a major part of the challenge has always been to keep “single pane of glass” visibility on what can be a complex IT estate. Moving to the cloud also requires visibility, across the virtualized infrastructure and services in use — this is to be expected. Less evident at the outset is how cloud-based architectures change the nature of what needs to be managed:
- cloud-based applications can become very complex, particularly if they are based on microservices
- they can rely on multiple integration points with external and SaaS-based applications and services, accessed via APIs.
- they are often hosted in multiple cloud environments or may still have portions hosted in on-premises or private clouds as well.
Alongside the need to maximize reliability and performance of their applications, organizations also need to focus increasingly on user experience, often directly with customers. For all of these reasons, organizations are today recognizing they need to rethink the way they approach IT Operations: cloud observability is required now, because of both the nature of what is being monitored, and the reasons for monitoring.
Cloud Observability starts with how organizations view a much more extended, and more complex, portfolio of IT assets; changes are also required at a deeply technical level, to collate the required low-level information on how services are performing — system events, alerts, performance data and other telemetry information that can be used to build a picture of what is going on.
Despite this apparent change of focus, the goals remain the same — to assure the responsiveness of IT operations to any changes in the environment, including expected events (such as deployments), adverse incidents, and outages. Cloud Observability captures the practices, platforms, and tools required to manage cloud-centric IT architectures in such a way that uptime can be maintained at a high level, and when things go wrong, service issues can be minimized. 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. Also, cloud observability products can reduce costs by not requiring egress charges to move metrics, traces, and logs from the cloud app to a non-cloud monitoring system.
Understandably given the rate of change of digital transformation today, there is no one single way to deliver on the goals of Cloud Observability. Solution providers such as Splunk have extended their existing platforms to embrace observability across cloud and hybrid environments, whilst new vendors have focused specifically on cloud-based applications. In our Key Criteria report for Cloud Observability, we cover how end-user organizations can evaluate different solutions according to their own needs, and we conduct our own evaluation in the accompanying Radar report.
Tools are only one element of a Cloud Observability strategy, which needs to incorporate best practices and structures that fit with a cloud-centric IT Operations mindset. We explore this topic, as well as the rationale for Cloud Observability, in our up-coming webinar. We’d love to see you there, and would welcome any questions you may have so tune in and we can flesh out how to deliver on a future-proof approach for IT operations, together.