Observability vs Monitoring: What’s The Difference

In a world where technology has gained traction, observability and monitoring have become common terms in software development discussions. Irrespective of how much effort you put in developing good applications, thesoftware will always have bugs and errors. This is why your system needs to be observable.

As the software development culture advances, there’s a shift from monitoring to the cloud environment. Applications in both cloud and on-premises environments need to be available and resilient. However, the process of achieving these goals differ.

Monitoring offers benefits such as improved performance and productivity. But it also allows efficient allocation of resources based on the user’s need while detecting and solving software problems.

The Difference Between Observability Monitoring

To explore observability vs monitoring, you must consider the differences that exist between them.

By its nature, observability has to do with one’s ability to deduce the internal state of a system. On the other hand, monitoring relates to the actions that are undertaken as one observes the quality of performance in a system over time.

Monitoring dates back to the Unix era in the 1970s. Since that time, the practice evolved to offer developers detailed tracing, metrics, and alerts on user experience and application performance throughout the technology stack, including the cloud.

In the development of enterprise software, monitoring helps interpret log metrics into actionable, meaningful insights. Through monitoring, software developers can describe the health, performance, and other characteristics of the internal aspects of a system.

Even so, monitoring is not as effective as observability in the complex, modern-day software development environment. Unlike monitoring, observability gives software development teams the ability to get a connected view of all performance data in real-timein a single place. This enables them to identify issues faster, what’s causing the issue, and deliver pleasant experiences to customers.

From Monitoring to Observability

Technology has advanced significantly over the last decade. These advancements have had a huge impact on software development teams.

Here are some of the reasons why developers are shifting from monitoring to observability:

  1. Changing Customer Expectations

Even as they become intolerant, customer expectations are increasing; slow, poorly designed or error-prone software don’t appeal to them. If an application doesn’t offer them the experience they’re looking for, they leave it, and they won’t come back. In fact, the main reasons why customers uninstall applications are mobile crashes, errors, and freezes.

To meet customer expectations, software developers should be able to restore services within an hour of application defects or incidents that affect users.

  • Demand For Innovative Applications

In order to stay ahead of the competition, software developers are constantly under pressure to create features that offer users new experiences. By eliminating entry barriers, cloud computing has increased competition. This has forced software teams to adapt with high performing developers that deploy their software at least once per day or even an hour. Take note that elite performers are able to deploy on-demand software several times a day.

  • Rising Automation And DevOps

Automation is attractive to businesses because it reduces low-value, repetitive tasks while boosting reliability. In cloud architecture, a software controls every aspect of the tech stack; the whole surface area can be programmed. With software powering the entire automation process, take note that it’s still prone to failure.

Companies are increasingly choosing to get autonomous teams to undertake their end-to-end software design, service operations, and delivery. They opt to leverage common tools and platforms provided by internal teams.

Software teams should monitor the CI/CD plus all other automation tools the same way they would monitor applications that serve customers directly. Data on each component in the system should be gathered regularly, which is the nature of observability. 

Key Factors That Drive Observability

To a large extent, observability is driven by the need for greater complexity. Though cloud technology has changed the way developers create applications, operate, and deliver them, technology has also led to complexity in software teams. Cloud technology comes with a dynamic infrastructure that allows developers to deploy their applications frequently. This increasesthe risk that makes rollback and instant detection a necessity. 

The need to address the skills gaps that developers might have poses a challenge for software teams. The many microservice architectures available requires software developers to rethink their application design, creation, and deployment processes since each member of the team should be able to understandand even troubleshoot applications that they did not work on from the beginning.

Conclusion

Monitoring and observability are important aspects of software development. However, monitoring worked well in yesteryears, while observability is more relevant in today’s highly complex and risky technology world as it addresses important software development issues, including high customer expectations, the need to bridge skills gaps, and demand for automation.

PKI-Security Engineer & security blogger at gbhackers.com. She is passionate about covering cybersecurity and Technology.

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