Software observability is crucial for ensuring optimal performance, reliability, and efficiency of your business’s digital systems. In its broader sense, it encompasses all tools and activities related to controlling software system health and responding to failures and threats. As discussed in the post Software observability: it’s not about sunk costs, it’s about lost profit, investing in a robust software observability system is not just a technical necessity, but also a strategic move that directly impacts your business’s profitability.
Building an effective and comprehensive observability system requires a thorough combination of numerous instruments, which provide real-time insights into the user experience, health, behavior and software application security. It also includes establishing routines that prepare and empower teams to act swiftly and precisely in case of emergency. The entire process depends on a significant amount of expertise and dedication, as well as recurring revisions and updates of every component. To better understand the required prerequisites and accompanying efforts, let’s start by separating them into two categories:
- Organizational, which covers prerequisites concerning people and processes.
- Technical, which includes prerequisites related to tools and technology.
Let’s look closer into each component and their associated costs.
It’s not so rare, when a company invests in a state-of-the-art observability solution, hires a top-notch DevOps team and nevertheless fails to mitigate a failure of their IT system due to a lack of collaboration between development, operation, compliance, product and other functions essential for observability systems. The permanent coordination between various stakeholders and delivery teams ensures that none of the essential requirements or threats is overlooked and that teams can effectively respond to issues. Creation of such a cooperative environment requires time and resources spent on fostering collaboration, potentially requiring cultural changes within the organization.
No matter how much data a company collects, it’s useless without skilled personnel who are capable of making sense of it and acting on the extracted insights. Organizations need skilled personnel who understand observability concepts, can analyze telemetry data, and effectively use monitoring tools. A major prerequisite for building this competency is investing in training programs, hiring and retaining skilled personnel responsible for implementing and maintaining the observability system, as well as potentially outsourcing expertise.
Documentation and Knowledge Sharing
The bigger the company grows, the more challenging it is to build centralized logging and enable distributed monitoring in a consistent and cooperative manner. Many companies struggle to break the knowledge silos. These naturally when teams lack proper guidelines and fail to share knowledge within the team / or / each other. Clear documentation of observability practices are critical for maintaining a consistent and effective observability strategy. This, however, incurs time and effort spent on documentation, knowledge sharing sessions, and potential costs associated with maintaining documentation platforms.
Routines for Incident Management and Prevention
While frequently omitted when discussing observability, ability to remediate emerging issues fast, with minimal damage and maximal learning, is an essential function that represents the efficiency of the entire observability system. It includes a set of measures related to establishing routine and coordination, documenting and enforcing working procedures and run-books, etc. and incurs costs related to preparation, training and coordination, implementation of correct authorization and high transparency.
When talking about security measures in context of observability, we speak about proactive forensic activities that adhere to security best practices and facilitate early actions on dangerous human errors and socially-engineered threats, as well as guarantee an adequate reaction to the security issues. These measures require associated investments and depend on permanent internal reassessment, the help of specialized consultants and training of all people interacting with the software.
The software applications and infrastructure need to be equipped to emit relevant telemetry data. This includes metrics, logs, and traces that provide insights into the application’s behavior and performance. The implementation cost involves the development effort to instrument the code, integration with existing systems, and potential impact on application performance.
Centralized Logging and Storage
A centralized logging system is essential for collecting and storing logs from various components. Similarly, a scalable storage solution is needed for storing the vast amount of telemetry data generated. Associated costs include implementing and maintaining a robust logging infrastructure, storage costs, and potential expenses related to data retention policies.
Monitoring Tools and Platforms
The use of monitoring tools and platforms is crucial for visualizing and analyzing telemetry data. These tools should support real-time monitoring, anomaly detection, and alerting capabilities.
Costwise, they depend on licensing fees, subscription costs, and potential costs associated with training teams on the selected monitoring tools and any third-party services used for observability.
For microservice architectures, distributed tracing is essential to monitor requests as they traverse through various services. This requires integration with each service to capture information and logs. Implementation of tracing depends on the development effort for integration, has potential impact on system performance, and costs associated with specialized tracing tools.
Observability systems must adhere to security best practices to protect sensitive telemetry data. This involves implementing encryption, access controls, and secure communication channels.
Costs related to implementing and maintaining security measures can be high. There is also potential impact on system performance, and ongoing efforts to stay compliant with security standards.
While investing in an efficient observability system is crucial for business success, it’s essential to consider the technical and organizational prerequisites, along with associated costs related to establishing such a system and running it. The system must not only be technically robust but also yields maximum return on investment, while aligning with business objectives and adhering to resource constraints. Putting all facets of an observability system together is a complex undertaking that demands in-depth domain knowledge and extensive experience in the field, and it’s not always possible or worth it to spend time and money building the inhouse expertise from scratch, especially if observability is not a feature that you are going to sell to your customers.
In such cases, it is worth looking into involving kreuzwerker as a consulting partner that will help you to build a robust technical foundation and efficient business processes to guarantee that your core software systems never remain unattended. Our engineers and consultants have solid experience in creating, refactoring, or reviewing observability systems to ensure their efficiency, robustness, customer satisfaction and state of the art best practices.
Learn more about software observability:
Post 1: Software observability: it’s not about sunk costs, it’s about lost profit
Post 3: Coming soon