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Making a Case for Observability

Observability Blog

Unlike monitoring which only tells you what’s not working, observability provides proactive, actionable, and correlated insights into the full application stack.

Imagine the following scenario for an online retailer: During a holiday weekend, the retailer sees a dramatic spike in site visitors after heavily promoting a sales event. On Tuesday morning, the sales and marketing teams meet to review the results. To everyone’s surprise, the spike in traffic resulted in very few sales. Interestingly, the report shows that many site visitors were deep into the sales process before abandoning their carts. For the rest of the week, the staff proposes several theories regarding why visitors didn’t complete their purchases.

These real word scenarios unfold daily as organizations struggle to find meaning in disjointed monitoring metrics from distributed application stacks. According to AppDynamic’s Agents of Transformation 2021, while most technologists acknowledge that the ability to monitor the IT stack is important, the overwhelming majority (92%) say the ability to link technology performance to business outcomes such as customer experience, sales transactions and revenue, will be what’s really important to delivering innovation goals over the next year. In addition, almost three quarters (73%) fear that the inability to link IT performance with business performance will be detrimental to their business in 2021, and 96 percent acknowledge that the ability to connect full-stack observability with real-time business outcomes will be essential to delivering first-class digital experiences and accelerating digital transformation.

Observability: delivering a new operating model for optimized digital experience

Even digitally resistant businesses realize the customers they serve are incredibly digital-savvy. They’re well versed in sourcing much of their information across product reviews, price comparisons and product quality through mobile apps or web mediums. In addition, some businesses have launched augmented-reality-based solutions to show customers what’s possible before they even get it in their hands. All this ties back to the need for a solid digital foundation to launch innovation from, and that’s where the need for observability comes in.

The term observability refers to the ability to correlate application performance with underlying IT infrastructure. For example, one can understand the internal state of an application based on its telemetry, which can be classified into logs, metrics, events and traces.

Unlike mere monitoring, observability aggregates these multiple sources and types of telemetry data, correlating that data and generating actionable insights.

Recalling the example shared earlier of the online retailer, adopting an observability platform could have eliminated the after-the-fact guesswork the team went through trying to determine the problem. Further, it could have provided insights into every step of the customer journey on the retailer website, for instance, user demand surges and lack of infrastructure resources issue could have been avoided.

Observability takes a unified end-to-end transactional view (from the front end to supporting back-end services) for the whole IT ecosystem. Currently, 85% of leaders admit they struggle to identify root causes of performance issues.

With recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), observability solutions can help businesses get to the root cause of IT problems. Observability don’t just analyze a single software system—it correlates all interconnected systems and services, eliminating finger-pointing among teams.

Observability addresses that struggle and ends the blame game by helping people work together as a team to trace problems to their root cause and fix them more quickly.

Does observability sound too good to be true? Then, put it to the test.

Any time you’re told that there’s a platform that can give you better visibility across your full IT stack, increase your productivity, enhance the end-user experience and reduce downtime, it’s natural to be skeptical. The good news is that you can test with proof of value (POV), an agile method for value realization.

If you’re experiencing problems with one or more of your applications and you’ve been unable to pinpoint the culprit, running an observability POV is that much more of a no-brainer.

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