As a society, we have become accustomed to digital innovations simplifying our lives
So often we accept a new piece of tech, which before long is taken for granted. But for every new convenience we benefit from, behind the scenes, tech teams are dealing with increasingly complex tech stacks. Every added layer brings a host of potential roadblocks to providing a frictionless customer experience – digital infrastructure, maintaining uptime, keeping on the front foot of innovation – each one costing more time and money than they should.
As tech stacks continue to grow more complex, the chances of bugs and outages occurring, as well as the difficulty in finding and fixing them, will also complexify. This is a problem particularly felt by larger organisations with siloed departments and those with dated technology. The recent outages experienced by British Airways and EasyJet are prime examples. And with every minute of downtime, businesses lose the credibility and trust they are trying to build with their customer base.
And so, as we increasingly rely on an ever-growing range of technology, observability’s role will only grow in importance.
What does observability do?
In a nutshell, observability helps simplify operations as stacks become more complicated. Rather than monitoring each IT application in isolation, observability gives users 360-degree visibility of businesses’ entire stacks in real-time from a single pane of glass. As a result, issues can be pre-empted or viewed in real time, so engineers can instantly zero in on and fix the problem.
Beyond monitoring production environments, observability can also prove critical across all parts of the software lifecycle. At initial conception, observability allows developers to instrument the code they are writing to make sure it’s performant. Throughout the development process, it also allows developers to make data-led decisions, right up to and after deployment when it makes it easy to monitor how well new products are operating.
At every step, observability improves productivity, freeing up employee time for innovation, or providing the visibility that helps to significantly reduce downtime and fix outages.
The ups and downs for observability
Most useful is observability’s ability to provide complete visibility from a single, unified platform. This helps engineers speed up operations and deploy software that protects their organisation from a single, digital location.
However, developers and users face several issues. For developers, the main barrier is compatibility. To be able to function properly, observability platforms must be compatible and easily integrate with a wide range of products, including cloud services, open-source tools and enterprise technologies.
According to New Relic’s 2021 Observability survey, the most prominent barriers to use for organisations are a lack of resources (38%) and skills gaps (29%). These are both huge factors for the 74% of respondents who reported that their organisations do not have mature observability practices.
Released in October last year, New Relic’s free Instant Observability platform was designed to break down these barriers. It offers integration with almost 500 tools commonly used by developers, with more regularly added, of which Postman is a great example. The tool is currently used by over 20 million developers to build and consume APIs, each of which has the potential to gain full visibility over their APIs to increase the quality and speed of production.
Promoting teamwork and improving productivity
Security – protecting their tech from vulnerabilities and cyberattacks – is vital for any organisation looking to build trust with its customers and vendors. However, with almost all software experiences consisting of thousands of components spread across multiple clouds and open-source projects, this is a difficult task to achieve. Particularly as each one is usually operated by different internal and third-party engineering teams. These teams often work in silos, with little knowledge of the others’ operations. This leads to blind spots and security and business risks, and can make it difficult for individual teams to isolate and fix problems when they occur.
Observability platforms with a focus on vulnerability management are created to help minimise this kind of issue. By aggregating security issues, engineers can work cross-functionally, regardless of the team, to manage security risk at scale and accelerate software delivery and operation. Through collaboration, organisations can address security problems quicker, often getting ahead of them before they affect customers.
With the continually increasing complexity of tech stacks, observability is a critical practice for any engineer in 2022. The simple consolidation of all necessary data into a single platform, which can be easily viewed across their organisation, vastly improves productivity. Beyond reducing mean downtimes, businesses are also freed up to work on working to improve the technology and products they are creating. Viewed from the consumer’s perspective, this can massively improve the customer experience. In turn, this positively affects businesses’ brands, providing them with the trust needed to grow their customer base.
About the Author
Aiden Cuffe is Senior Product Manager at New Relic. The world’s best engineering teams rely on New Relic to visualize, analyze and troubleshoot their software. New Relic One is the most powerful cloud-based observability platform built to help companies create more perfect software. Learn why customers trust New Relic for improved uptime and performance, greater scale and efficiency, and accelerated time to market at newrelic.com.
Featured image: ©James-Teohart