By Mike Vizard on January 4, 2022
A Harris Poll of 200 senior engineering professionals suggests it may be a while before most DevOps teams are able to achieve true observability in their IT environments.
The survey was conducted on behalf of LogDNA, a provider of an observability platform, and found nearly three-quarters of respondents (74%) are struggling to achieve their observability goals despite investing hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, well over a third (38%) said they are already investing $300,000 annually on observability tools.
Despite those investments, less than half of respondents are very satisfied with their ability to use log data. Key areas of frustration include the challenges of collaboration with colleagues spanning multiple teams (67%), the fact that the tools are not easy to use (66%) and the routing of security events (58%).
Nevertheless, the bulk of survey respondents said they are optimistic about observability. A full 85% of participants said they believe true observability is possible.
LogDNA CEO Tucker Callaway said the core issue that many organizations fail to recognize is that observability is really a data literacy and management challenge. Organizations are collecting logs, metrics and traces from a wide range of tools and platforms without thinking through optimal data pipeline construction. The result is an aggregation of data that has not been normalized to simplify surfacing actionable intelligence, he said. In fact, many organizations quickly discover that all they’ve really accomplished is increase their data storage costs, said Callaway.
In the absence of that data normalization, Callaway noted it becomes exceedingly difficult for cross-functional teams to query all the data being collected within a repository.
At its core, observability promised to make it easier to identify IT issues before they cause a disruption. Observability in one form or another has always been a core tenet of any DevOps best practice. Initially, DevOps teams focused on continuous monitoring as the most effective way to proactively manage application environments. However, it can still take days, sometimes weeks, to discover the root cause of an issue. Observability platforms make it possible to correlate events in a way that makes it easier for analytics tools to identify anomalous behavior that might be indicative of the root cause of an IT issue.
In contrast, traditional IT monitoring focuses on predefined metrics to identify when a specific platform or application is performing within expectations. Observability platforms combine metrics, logs and traces—a specialized form of logging—to make it easier for IT professionals to interrogate data being generated by a wide range of DevOps tools and platforms.
Of course, the assumption is that DevOps teams actually know what queries to launch to determine what the root cause of an IT issue might be. In the longer term, machine learning algorithms should make it easier to identify anomalies within IT environments. In the meantime, however, achieving observability still requires a fair amount of DevOps expertise that is not always readily available.
Eventually, observability will become much more automated than it generally is today. As that transition occurs, IT teams should find the ROI of observability is steadily improving.