Why observability is a key metric for the cloud era

The abstract virtual world of cloud computing can be more directly and accurately controlled if the right observability and visibility tools are applied to as-a-Service applications and services.

Cloud computing is both abstract and virtualised. This may be the only solid truth we can pin down in the still-nascent world of as-a-Service computing, where the resources we tap into come ‘down the pipe' from a virtual backend block of IT.

Because these new forms of technology are abstracted upwards and away from the core datacentre servers that they run on, it can feel like we don't have the same granular ‘inside the engine room' feel that we're used to. Of course, the virtual world of cloud is supposed to do exactly that i.e. be virtual. But we will still need to look under the hood for a variety of reasons to know how our software code and data and working together.

These factors have given rise to a new slew of observability and visibility technologies, tools and platforms dedicated to observing… and then informing and helping to onward manage our IT resources.


Beyond systems management

Observability encompasses the areas of IT monitoring, auditing, management and systems administration, but it also goes beyond those core pillars. This is an area of deeper software log aggregation and analytics to enable us to really know how systems are working ‘in flight' as they run in live operations.

When live ‘production' IT systems are distributed (as they often will be in cloud) across multiple locations, being able to perform distributed systems tracing and receive alerts on application health is essential. Much of this data will be unstructured ‘raw' system-level data (such as log files generated by any given application action), so observability platforms will work to provide risk indicators that analyse and correlate logs, metrics and traces to extract signals.

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