Now that we have explored what observability is and what makes up a good observability solution, we can dive a bit deeper into the benefits. This is again not an exhaustive list of benefits but I consider these to be the most impactful to businesses. Although some of these have been touched on in my previous posts, in this post I will consolidate these and add the missing pieces.
More performance, less downtime
Leaders in the observability space can detect and resolve issues considerably faster than businesses that are still relatively immature in this space. This includes issues relating to application performance or downtime.
Poorly performing applications or applications experiencing downtime have a direct impact on costs for any business. These can be in the form of tangible costs such as a direct loss in revenue or intangible costs such as brand and reputational damage.
Consider an eCommerce store which cannot transact due to a broken payment service, a social application that can no longer serve ads, a real-time trading application with super high latency, or a logistics application with a broken tracking service. There are literally thousands of examples across industries where the costs associated with downtime or poorly performing applications are very tangible.
When a banking application goes down, almost everyone knows about it the minute it happens. Twitter lights up, it appears on everyone’s news feeds and it even lands up on radio and television news broadcasts. Apart from the direct costs, the reputational damage caused by the downtime of an application can also be very costly, leading to increased customer churn, loss of new customers; as well as a host of other outcomes which impact the bottom line.
Measuring the true costs of downtime or poor-performing applications can be a difficult task, but the costs typically far outweigh the costs of making sure observability is done right; where issues are detected early and fixed before they can have a significant impact.
Higher productivity, better customer experience
A properly implemented observability solution provides businesses with massively improved insights across the entirety of the business. These insights improve efficiencies and workflows in detecting and resolving issues across the application landscape. This landscape is distributed in today’s modern architectures and extends to the infrastructure, networks and platforms on which the applications run, both on-prem as well as cloud environments. These insights and efficiencies ultimately provide multiple benefits across business operations.
One of the more tangible benefits is that if your developers and DevOps engineers are not stuck diagnosing problems all day, they can spend their time developing and deploying applications. This means accelerated development cycles that ultimately lead to getting applications to the market quicker as well as leading to better and more innovative applications.
With businesses being ever more defined by the digital experiences they provide to their customers, observability is one of the edges required to become leaders in the industry. The deeper insights also help to align the different functions of the business. Having visibility on all aspects of the system, from higher level SLAs to all the frontend and backend processes, enables operations and development teams to optimise processes across the landscape. These insights even enable businesses to introduce new sources of income.
Observability is also vital in providing businesses with confidence in their cross-functional processes and assurance that the applications that are brought to market are robust. This confidence is even more important in today’s complex distributed systems which stretch across on-prem and cloud environments.
Happy people, better talent retention
One of the often overlooked benefits of observability is talent retention. With highly skilled developers and DevOps engineers being a bit of a scarcity, it stands to reason that businesses would want to do what they can to retain their best talent.
The frustration of sitting in endless war rooms and spending the majority of the day putting out fires is a surefire way to ensure highly skilled talent will look for opportunities to work elsewhere, to be able to do what they enjoy.
Efficient observability practices and workflows drastically reduce the amount of time developers and engineers spend dealing with issues, making them happier and ultimately helping to retain them.
Fewer monitoring tools, look at all those benefits
One of the themes from my previous posts is that using multiple monitoring tools instead of a centralised observability solution creates inefficiencies and has a severe impact on a business’s ability to detect and resolve issues. From this post, it should be apparent that the insights gained – by a centralised observability solution across the landscape – have a number of other benefits too.
Although this post is dealing with the generic benefits of observability without necessarily comparing it to other approaches, I feel addressing a few drawbacks from the multiple tool approach will also highlight additional benefits of the central platform approach to observability. Below are some of these drawbacks:
- Licensing multiple monitoring tools introduces unnecessary costs as well as complexity in administering multiple different licensing models.
- Having multiple tools also introduces complexity across your environment with multiple different agents and tools to be managed and operationally maintained.
- The diverse and often rare skills required to operate multiple different tools either introduce a burden on existing operations teams or cause reliance on multiple different external parties to implement, manage and maintain tools.
- Data governance is vital in any tool or system that stores data. Monitoring tools are no different and often contain sensitive data. Governance for a single observability solution is far simpler to achieve and less costly than multiple tools.
- Storing data also has a cost burden which is often far higher when you have multiple tools, each with its own storage requirements.
The main thing to highlight is that the above drawbacks are really secondary to the most important benefit of centralised observability over the multiple monitoring tools approach. That is detecting and resolving issues in the most efficient and quickest way possible. This is best achieved with seamless correlation between your logs, metrics and APM data in a centralised platform.
Realising your benefits
To be a leader in the observability space is a journey. As I mentioned in previous posts, observability is not simply achieved by deploying a tool. It starts with architecture and design to ensure the solution adheres to best practices and can scale and grow as the business needs it to. It then extends to ingesting all the right data, formatted and stored in a way that can facilitate efficient correlations and workflows. Then all the other backend and frontend pieces need to fall in place, such as retention management, alerting, security, machine learning, etc.
LSD has been deploying observability solutions for our customers for many years and we help accelerate their journey through our battle-tested solutions and experience in deploying and implementing these solutions. Please follow this link to learn more.