Gain agility through observability

  • IT Management
  • Solutions
  • 2023
  • Heather Waters
April 06, 2023

Agility through observability: four workers staring at a graph on a large screen

As companies navigate geopolitical challenges, macroeconomic headwinds, and the post-pandemic comedown, business leaders face intense pressure to drive software transformation, reduce costs, and compete faster in the cloud-transition era of “lift and shift.”

Amid layoffs and a slowed pace of hiring, the demand for better tools, real-time insights, seamless experiences, and contextual analysis has skyrocketed. With so much uncertainty, organizations can gain agility through observability, which will be critical.

The need for visibility

The pandemic profoundly altered how and where we work. Since then, the proliferation of distributed teams has exposed gaps in legacy systems and a general lack of visibility across the tech estate.

Traditional tools and monitoring can’t keep pace with the growing complexity, scale, and volume of data in cloud-native environments. Without end-to-end visibility, silos remain intact, redundancy persists, and resources are wasted as teams try to identify root causes of problems manually.

Visibility becomes even more important as organizations invest in building and scaling revenue-generating applications. Understanding the health and performance of the tech estate is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s table stakes.

This heightened attention also means DevOps, site reliability engineering (SRE), and operations teams are pushed to drive tighter development cycles and innovate faster than the pace the market demands. At the same time, they’re tasked with meeting service-level objectives. That may lead to burnout.

According to Forbes, 58% of developers are suffering from burnout. A Haystack study from the UK reports the figure is closer to 80%.

According to Forbes, 58% of developers are suffering from burnout. A Haystack study from the UK reports the figure is closer to 80%.

How can organizations reduce friction across IT, maintain compliance, improve agility, and keep teams from burning out?

The answer lies in unified observability and the Now Platform. Together, they can help businesses harmonize modern DevOps and SRE practices, increase change throughput while minimizing risk and overhead, and improve productivity—with a seamless, end-to-end view of the entire application lifecycle.

Why observability?

I can’t overstate how traditional monitoring systems fall short when it comes to visualizing the health and performance of complex, cloud-native solutions. Microservices are fleeting, as multiple instances automatically scale up and down, adjusting processing capacity to workloads.

When you consider the frequency of changes made by distributed teams and the disconnect between running services and the processes that created them, this complexity is further amplified. Often, monitoring fails to capture all the events, communication paths, and other information to trace an issue to its origin.

Without end-to-end visibility, there’s simply no way to conduct root cause analysis across thousands, if not millions, of processes. Observability, on the other hand, looks at interdependencies and the architecture of the entire estate to answer the question, “What caused this change?”

The benefits of observability

Aside from improved alerting, workflows, and response times, observability provides better business outcomes and gains across the enterprise.

Increased leadership trust

When teams release software faster and with greater confidence, they have better insight into how changes could affect the security and performance of the system.

This results in improved uptime, which leads to happier employees and customers—and heightened trust from the leadership team. As more brands compete for attention, both employee experience and customer experience become paramount.

Improved cross-functional collaboration

With visibility into the entire tech estate, internal dependencies and communication improve. As project managers, business analysts, and subject matter experts gain clarity, they can shift their attention to opportunities for growth and optimization. Likewise, project sponsors can focus on exploring ideas to increase revenue.

Enhanced DevOps success

By spending less time figuring out the root cause of problems and fixing bugs, DevOps teams win. This frees them to focus on the higher-value work of delivering exceptional software. That may help address burnout.


Adopting observability in the enterprise can help achieve significant business outcomes, including mitigating developer burnout and increasing operational agility.

Seeing the big picture

Getting the full picture of the entire tech estate requires aggregating, correlating, and prioritizing the data into actionable insights. To accomplish this, your tooling needs to capture three things:

  1. Logs
    A log is a text record of an incident that occurred at a specific time. It includes a time stamp, a unique ID for the component involved, and a description of the event or error. Logs can be stored as plain text, binary data, or structured files, with the latter being especially useful for observability because they’re easy to query.

  2. Metrics
    Metrics are structured data that contains numeric values that measure a specific item over time, such as a business key performance indicator or the number of subscribers to a website. Metrics can be used to track the performance of a system or business and identify trends and patterns over time.

  3. Traces 
    Traces are data that flows through a distributed system from start to finish. They're uniquely identified and contain important metadata, such as the microservice or serverless function that processes a request. Traces are useful for understanding the flow of requests through a system and identifying bottlenecks or other issues.

In addition, it’s important to consider:

  • Does the tool work with your existing platforms, frameworks, and environments? Without integration, your investment won't deliver the business outcomes you want.

  • Is the data collected in real time? Outdated data is useless for taking appropriate action, so it's important to use modern event-handling techniques and APIs. It's also important to include the proper context for the data you collect so you can better visualize and correlate it.

  • Do you have access to user-friendly dashboards? If you don't, it will be hard to deliver business value. Since adoption of the tool is crucial, it should be intuitive and easy to integrate into existing processes.

Next steps

Adopting observability in the enterprise can help achieve significant business outcomes, including mitigating developer burnout and increasing operational agility. By collecting, processing, and analyzing logs, metrics, and traces seamlessly within a platform, you can gain a clear understanding of your distributed system.

This can help you detect anomalies and make informed decisions about new releases, ensuring stability and quick root cause analysis. As a result, you can increase efficiency and reliability and ultimately drive success.

For DevOps and SREs, it’s best to jump in and get hands-on experience testing various frameworks, tools, and other technical resources. You can also explore the OpenTelemetry website, which provides a deep dive into the features of the observability framework for cloud-native software applications.

Request a demo to see how observability can help your organization increase agility and operational efficiency.

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