Why all organisations can access the benefits of observability 

No matter the organisation, the IT tech stack is getting more complex by the day. To manage these demands businesses are grappling for the resources and skills to manage their digital infrastructure, maintain uptime, and keep on the front foot of innovation. Observability – the ability to get visibility into your tech stack through one single platform – plays a huge role in addressing these common challenges yet many are still missing out on its benefits.

Tablet displaying many technology elements, cloud/servers/icons are being observed by an eye

We are living in a digital era. But with every new innovation and service, tech stacks become more complex, and the convenience valued by consumers comes at a price that businesses are having to pay. With each layer added, more time is needed to manage digital infrastructure, maintain uptime, and keep on the front foot of innovation – necessary operations that are costing businesses more time and money than they should.  

Bugs and outages are still an inevitability in tech, and as stacks become more complex, so too will the complexity of finding and fixing where something has gone wrong. This is a particular problem for larger organisations whose departments are traditionally siloed. But with each bug or attack and every resulting minute of downtime, businesses lose the credibility and trust they are trying to build.  

And with so much at stake, observability will only continue to grow in importance. 

What is observability? 

Observability helps to cut through the difficulties that occur as stacks become more complicated. Instead of having to monitor each part IT application separately, observability provides users with 360-degree visibility of businesses’ entire stacks in real-time from a single platform. This means that when a bug occurs, developers are instantly able to zero in on what’s going wrong and fix it.  

While observability is often used to monitor already operational tech stacks, it is also vital across all parts of the software lifecycle. From initial conception, where it allows developers to understand whether they need to update previous products or start creating new ones, right through to deployment, when it is easy to monitor how well new products are operating. 

At every stage, observability helps to improve productivity. Whether that means through data-led development decisions that leave more time for innovation or providing the visibility that helps to significantly reduce time fixing downtime.   

Observability’s benefits and pitfalls 

The real genius of observability platforms is their ability to provide complete visibility from a single pane of glass. Being able to view their entire stack from a unified platform means that engineers can speed up operations and deploy software that protects their business from one place. 

However, there are several barriers both observability developers and users face. Despite the critical services observability platforms provide, according to New Relic’s 2021 Observability survey, almost three quarters (74%) of respondents claim they do not have a mature observability practice. The survey found that the most cited barriers to observability success were a lack of resources (38%) and skills gaps (29%).  

For developers, the main issue is compatibility. By their very nature, observability platforms must be compatible and able to be integrated with a wide range of products, from cloud services to open-source tools and enterprise technologies. For example, New Relic’s Instant Observability platform is compatible with over 500 tools commonly used by developers. Without this level of integration, observability platforms are rendered useless, regardless of how efficient their interfaces are. 

Promoting teamwork  

Securing tech from bugs and cyberattacks is vital for any organisation that is looking to build trust with its customers and vendors. However, the sprawling nature of almost all software experiences makes this a difficult task. Each one is comprised of thousands of components, spread across multiple clouds and open-source projects. Each one is operated by different internal and third-party engineering teams which work in silos, with each one having little working knowledge of what others are doing. This separation increases blind spots, leading to security and business risks, and it can be difficult for the individual teams to isolate and then fix the problem.  

Observability platforms that focus on vulnerability management are designed to combat this exact problem. Through the aggregation of all security signals, every engineer can work together to manage security risk at scale and accelerate software delivery and operation, regardless of the team or speciality. This level of collaboration works to keep organisations safer, helping them to address security problems quicker, and often even pre-empt them. 

Observability is a key tool for any engineer in 2022. Consolidating all the necessary data into one platform, which can be viewed easily across the organisation, vastly improves productivity. Not only does it help provide less downtime, but businesses are free to work on progressively improving their technology and the products they are creating. When viewed through a customer-centric lens, it also massively improves the customer experience. This in turn has positive ramifications for businesses’ brands, helping them to build the trust with their customer base they need to grow.  

Aidan Cuffe is a Senior Product Manager at New Relic. Focused on Observability, he has 8 years of experience at New Relic across multiple facets of the customer experience, from Technical Support, Technical Sales, Customer Success Enablement, Solution Architect and now Product Management.