Choosing an Observability Pipeline

    4 MIN READ

    An observability pipeline is a tool or process that centralizes data ingestion, transformation, correlation, and routing across a business. Production engineers across ITOps, Development, and Security teams use them to more efficiently and cost-effectively transform their telemetry data to drive critical decisions. 

    Businesses of all sizes can enjoy several benefits and gain a significant competitive advantage by implementing an observability pipeline. The advantages include the following: 

    • Easier access to and control of data, which ultimately reduces spending without decreasing observable surface area
    • More actionable data that contains critical context to allow teams to take action while it is still in motion
    • Empowering more production teams with the data insights they need to respond to issues, mitigate risks, and ultimately provide performant solutions

    Tip: We recently explored the more significant benefits of observability pipelines in this primer.

    However, not every pipeline is the same. With so many options on the market today, recognizing the value that observability pipelines can deliver to your business is only half the battle. You need to be able to choose the right one to align with your business needs as well.

    To help with your decision-making process, here are a few key things you should consider when evaluating an observability pipeline solution.  

    Platform Openness

    One of the benefits of observability pipelines is that you can effectively break your data out of silos and allow for more access. When considering a pipeline solution, you want to ensure that you aren't just locking your data into another proprietary solution or workflow. Instead, your pipeline should embrace an open format to ensure that it can be adapted or extended to fit virtually any type of data or use case. For example, research if the pipeline you're evaluating conforms to open data collection standards like OpenTelemetry so you can aggregate all of your data into a single control point.

    Speed of Actionability

    While the concept of an observability pipeline is straightforward, implementing it can be complicated. To ensure you get value from a pipeline from the beginning, evaluate the setup and onboarding process. How easily can it integrate with your environments? Are you able to understand your usage and spending from a single point? Can you quickly visualize the flow of data to identify trends? Faster time to value ensures you get the most out of your pipeline investment, and you shouldn't overlook this factor. 

    Available Forms of Data Enrichment

    Most telemetry data isn't inherently valuable. Observability pipelines can add value to that data via enrichments that add helpful context. When evaluating a pipeline solution, it's essential to understand the types of enrichments it supports and how easy it is to configure them. The last thing you want is your teams wasting time trying to transform data to fit their needs manually. Instead, your pipeline should do the heavy lifting for you.

    Available Pipeline Correlations

    Similar to enrichments, data correlations drive actionability by intelligently linking disparate data sets. It's just as critical that your pipeline solution makes it easy to draw those connections between your data via easy-to-configure rules. It should also be able to scale those correlations as data volume grows rather than becoming a bottleneck to the insights needed to make decisions in real time.

    Real-Time Decision Making

    Many observability pipelines focus on efficiently collecting and routing data to end destinations for analysis. However, if your teams need access to actionable data in real time, it's essential to understand what features exist inside the pipeline to drive that outcome. Some of these features include:

    • Search capabilities to discover data insights 
    • Alerts that let you know when anomalies exist
    • Visualizations to understand emerging trends 

    When your pipeline makes it easy to take action while data is still in motion, it provides even more value than that when it's simply routing data to an end destination.

    Ensure Your Pipeline Meets Your Needs

    While this list isn't exhaustive, having answers to these questions is critical in determining the best observability pipeline solution for your needs and making an informed decision. 

    Get your hands on our new white paper to get guidance on weeding out valuable features from the fluff and ensure you choose the pipeline with the functionality your teams need.