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Thundra 2021 Predictions: Observability in 2021

vmblog 2021 prediction series 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2021.  Read them in this 13th annual series exclusive.

Observability in 2021

By Emrah Samdan, VP of Product, Thundra

As we close out 2020, we've watched the market and industry respond to the changing landscapes and modern architectures. We're learning the need to focus on observability and how essential it is to enable development teams to understand the state of their systems. 

Defining monitoring vs. observability

In previous years, observability was usually regarded as the buzzword for monitoring. I believe that perception has finally changed, and the tech world started to grasp the difference and the need for observability in distributed systems. Observability is the state of your system that lets you ask questions using a set of tools such as traces, metrics, and logs and tactics such as distributed tracing, production debugging, and more. On the other hand, monitoring is the action of tracking the health of the system by keeping an eye on a specific set of metrics. It doesn't typically let you ask new questions but motivates by giving answers quickly on known issues. There's a wrong perception that application teams think that both monitoring and observability are post-production issues. So, they generally figure out the necessity of having a complete set of tools for this purpose at the very end of the software development cycle. I can clearly see that this is going to change in 2021 and the following years.

Acceleration of "shift left" in observability

The software systems are much more distributed for the sake of speed and resilience, but it makes them much more complicated to understand the issues when faced in production. Applications are not owned by siloed teams of developers and ops folks in modern applications. The notion of "you build it, you run it" forces developers to take the responsibility of the production application and guarantee the availability. For this reason, I expect the acceleration of "shift left" in observability tools and practices. It won't be surprising to see application teams taking observability seriously in the pre-production phase. We are also about to see a persona change of the users of observability tools. Instead of ops folks and their discipline of understanding issues, metric charts, and log files, distributed tracing tools and production debugging will become much handier for developers before and after production.

Observability in CI/CD

Observability will also be helpful in CI/CD. On top of running the unit and integration tests, developers will be able to see the potential impact of the changes to production before the change is still under review. It's essential for distributed architectures as the impact on downstream services and other parts of the software can stay unnoticed before pushing into production. For this reason, application teams will find ways of embedding observability tooling as a part of their CI/CD process. For example, developers will now need a better way of understanding why their tests fail not just by looking at the error stack but being able to use the power of distributed tracing. The failure in the test is most probably cascaded to other parts of the system that's out of test coverage. In order to see the whole issue and prevent it before it goes into production, developers will need to see the distributed impact by checking the traces and hunt down local impact with local debugging.

Thundra will continue to help developers crafting cloud applications at every stage. We are in the stage of integrating our distributed technology with the production debugging capabilities, resolving issues in production, and preventing the potential issues in pre-production.


About the Author

Emrah Samdan 

Emrah Şamdan is the VP of Products at Thundra, a tool that aims to ease troubleshooting for developers with distributed tracing and production debugging across cloud services. As a part of his job at Thundra, he talks with many serverless developers, diagnoses and solves many problems, and removes barriers in front of cloud adaptation. With his team at Thundra, he's inventing the ways of delivering healthier cloud apps and keeping them healthy on production. 

Published Monday, December 28, 2020 7:04 AM by David Marshall
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