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Observability and Monitoring in the DevOps Age

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By Anurag Sinha, Co-Founder & Managing Director, Wissen Technology
As businesses continue to scale up their digital initiatives, there is a need to ensure that their digital infrastructure holds up resiliently to the need of the hour. Two of the most important factors that help decide the reliability of modern digital systems in the DevOps era are observability and monitoring.

In simple terms, observability is the characteristic that allows DevOps engineers to debug defective systems efficiently by understanding what went wrong.

On the other hand, monitoring refers to the process of enabling engineers to continuously watch the system’s performance based on outputs that are matched against pre-defined success metrics.

A digital system is monitorable only if it is observable, as monitoring only reveals insights into known problems, while observability throws light into what went wrong in even unchartered territories.

Getting a grip on observability and monitoring in the DevOps age isn’t an easy endeavor. But given the rising complexity of modern web applications, it is essential to leverage these two key parameters to drive better experiences across digital channels. Here are four tips for creating a win-win situation for observability and monitoring of DevOps-centric enterprise application development  initiatives:

Identify the Key Metrics to Be Observed and Monitored
The first step towards achieving success is to know what to measure and monitor. Your business technology ecosystem may be comprised of different modular applications with all sorts of possible dependencies. It is important to first lay out the key indicators that must be tracked if engineers are to find remedies when unusual behavior is observed.

These indicators are not just internal operational metrics but also customer-facing ones like performance and speed of page loads, erroneous crashes of web interfaces, etc.

Establish Visibility Through Tracing
The key to finding the best remedy for any unexpected defect or bug is to trace the root cause of the problem. This means developers and QA engineers must be able to navigate the exact workflow that resulted in a defective output. For this, traceability is an essential factor in every transactional workflow. It helps DevOps teams understand how data and insights are passed between different systems when a transactional request is processed. With this detailed view of what happens where, it becomes easier to arrive at the root cause of an issue.

In simple terms, traceability allows engineers to pinpoint exactly which services or systems are contributing to the erroneous output or poor performance of their digital channels.

Incorporate Automated Reporting
Once the important metrics are identified, and visibility is established across the connected network of operations in your digital ecosystem, the next step is ensuring that the right team is notified about issues at the right time.

For this, automated reporting capabilities must be incorporated into digital channels that constantly convey the health of all business systems as well as the state of the system as observed by end users. In other words, reporting must enable  DevOps  teams to get answers to the following two major questions:
Are our systems functioning, and do they have the necessary resources to do well?
Are our customers facing any bad experiences, or is the system down for them?

Getting a seamless reporting experience to work in your DevOps strategy will be instrumental in eliminating challenges to observability and monitoring.

Leverage the Right Tools and Data
So far, we have discussed the conceptual and workflow necessities that enterprises must ensure to have flawless observability and monitoring in their digital channels. To execute these concepts, DevOps engineers need access to the right tools and data that help in identifying, understanding, tracing, and diagnosing issues in their infrastructure.

The selection criteria must also take into consideration the scale of operations which will subsequently impact the pricing schemes of tools. Modern enterprises often engage with the distributed architecture of digital systems, for example, the use of microservices. This will further add complexity to the key pillars we covered earlier. Hence the tools selected must consider these factors as well.

Observability and Monitoring – The Key to DevOps Success
Observability and monitoring play a vital role in ensuring a stable and steady digital infrastructure for any business today. As competition rises, businesses strive to achieve customer experiences that are flawless. While it may not always be possible to offer a glitch-free experience consistently, the key to success is catching defects at the earliest and knowing how to solve them without disrupting customer experiences.

This is where observability and monitoring play a central role in the era of DevOps. The tips covered to ensure a successful implementation of either depend a lot on how well engineers can understand nuances in modern digital architecture and the use of technology like serverless computing, IaaS, etc.

Having a knowledgeable technology partner like Wissen can bring a key difference to achieving seamless infrastructure resilience in your business. Our consultants can guide you through best practices, aid in selecting the right tools, and manage the end-to-end implementation of observability and monitoring – personalized to your business’s unique needs.

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