Observability is often positioned as something that will replace ITOps monitoring, when on the contrary the need for observability makes it more relevant than ever to build a strong, comprehensive and business-centered monitoring platform. This blog post defines observability and provides an overview of its benefits for your enterprise.  

Observability is an extension of ITOps monitoring 

Gartner defines observability as “the evolution of monitoring into a process that offers insight into digital business applications, speeds innovation and enhances customer experience.”  They are recommending I&O leaders to use observability to extend current monitoring capabilities, processes, and culture to deliver these benefits.

Comparing monitoring to observability

Comparing IT monitoring to observability is a worthwhile exercise—as long as it is understood that for observability to happen, quality and consistent telemetry data are required, and the data needs to be traceable to business processes. In other words, before claiming business observability, your team needs to understand and consistently track the dynamic interactions between various infrastructure and technological components as digital service is being delivered to users and customers. 

A continuum of information rather than an either/or proposition 

From ITOps Monitoring

  • Track the data and ensure the system is working optimally
  • Collect “knowledge” on the system workings through metrics and logs.
  • Track SLAs and report on business KPIs
  • Measure the quality of the customer experience as delivered by the infrastructure stack.

To Observability

  • Query the data to understand why it is not working optimally.
  • Activate that knowledge through making the system “aware” of itself.
  • Combine infrastructure-level business KPIs with other business insights—i.e., sales cycle length.
  • Delve into the customer experience through additional context, ex. social sentiment.

Observability is not a tool or a solution: It’s something you build into your system

At the end of the day, the purpose of IT operation monitoring and observability is convergent: instrumenting systems and applications to collect logs, metrics, and traces. You can conceive observability as a feature of a system: that makes it “observable.” Observability, therefore, is not something you can purchase, like the latest power tool. It is something you need to build into the system. 

According to Gartner, by 2024, 30% of enterprises implementing distributed system architectures will have adopted observability techniques to improve digital business service performance, up from less than 10% in 2020. 

How can observability be built into your system?

Making your business observable at the ITOps level means you are aware of the infrastructure each business service depends on. You are able to design and deliver the digital experiences that make the business competitive. Ultimately it means your ITOps team is equipped to understand how digital outcomes translate into business outcomes. These are essential functionalities to look for at the ITOps monitoring level:

In its Technology Vision 2021 report, Accenture states that “Companies will now be competing on their technology architecture. Enterprises can custom-tailor every layer of it now, but building and wielding the most competitive stack means thinking differently. Business and technology strategies must become indistinguishable. Whoever gains the upper edge on technology stands to emerge as number one.”

5 Reasons to care about business observability

  1. Aligning all teams on business performance. ITOps was once focused on “keeping the lights on” but today they’re managing pipelines of crucial data. They need to be aware of business objectives to do their job right. Tracking business performance rather than service availability means problems that affect business outcomes are fixed faster and performance is always optimized. 
  2. Understanding business in its digital form. Today, IT is the business. Observability is a way for business stakeholders to better harness the power of technology to get to their business goals faster. Inversely, I&O can understand a business problem—and fix it in seconds, by drilling down to the underlying IT issue. Best of all, I&O and business stakeholders can work together and learn from each other, making the business more agile. 
  3. Powering up insights with better context. Combine multiple levels of awareness into single dashboards—from resource optimizations to business KPIs, to user experience—so you can tell what’s really going on and respond without the business losing any steam.
  4. Making your business more competitive. With a deeper understanding of your business, you can constantly optimize digital capacities to perfectly match customer expectations—from bandwidth to optimal application availability up to the most user experience or refined customer experience that improves customer engagement rates and boosts competitiveness. 
  5. Supporting innovation. With accelerated product and innovation cycles, you can’t afford to stay in the dark for too long. Business observability let’s you know very quickly what works and what doesn’t—so you can fix or improve faster. 

TAKEAWAYS

Observability is the evolution of monitoring into a process that provides insight into digital business applications, accelerates innovation and augment the quality of customer experiences, ultimately making the business more competitive. Observability must be thought as something that’s built into a system, rather than a “tool” that can be purchased. 

Observability helps your teams be more:

  • Performant
  • Agile
  • Aligned on business objectives
  • Focused on business competitiveness
  • Innovative

To learn more, read this use case.

Ask us how we can help you lay the groundwork of a business observability strategy today.