Observability and DevOps

Observability is a key component of establishing a successful DevOps culture. These two correlated concepts are critical for improving the deployment and management of software applications.

What is observability

Observability refers to the ability to understand the internal state of applications and the overall system. Observability is achieved through collecting and analyzing various data sources including logs, metrics, and traces, which are colloquially known as the three pillars of observability.

Unlike traditional telemetry and monitoring, the key difference with observability is that it aims to provide a comprehensive view of the system’s state beyond collecting data and detecting issues.

What is DevOps

Strictly speaking, DevOps is a philosophy that governs a set of practices and tools to bring software development (Dev) and operations (Ops) together. This includes continuous integration and delivery/deployment (CI/CD), automation, infrastructure as code (IaC), as well as comprehensive monitoring and logging practices.

The goal of DevOps is to break down silos between traditionally two separate teams (devs, operations) and promote a more collaborative and safe software development cycle.

Observability is a fundamental component of implementing DevOps principles. In order to continuously build and ship new features and applications reliably, all the three pillars of observability are often embedded into new software. These data sources also help inform both developers and operations teams to catch potential issues earlier (e.g., in the build pipeline or lower environments).

Teams with better observability are often able to troubleshoot faster and set up proactive monitoring systems for better reliability. With such safety built in, development teams can innovate and ship new features faster, while operations teams can focus on scaling and managing the infrastructure without having to fight fires all the time.

This synergy creates a positive feedback loop that encourages iterative improvements and faster delivery, which eventually gets to the heart of DevOps.