INTRODUCTION

Enterprise software systems that manage large-scale organizations’ processes require Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) to ensure availability, resilience, and reliability. SRE entails monitoring the software system’s performance and implementing fixes if problems develop. As a result, it is not surprising that Observability is an integral part of SRE and requires appropriate techniques and automation tools to enforce.

SREs employ a variety of methodologies and practices to manage services at scale, with Observability being a critical component. Observability improves SRE by allowing practitioners to deduce the internal state of a system. Actionable data is crucial for SRE to develop and maintain scalable, reliable, and secure systems. In addition, SREs may use Observability to understand their internal details better, what is occurring, and why.

WHAT IS OBSERVABILITY?

Observability of a system is the ability to monitor your system to discover and diagnose problems as they occur. Observability requires the system to record and maintain the various states and changes in the system for any review and analysis, when required. The purpose of Observability is to enable insight into all components of your system so that faults may be identified and fixed before they become customer-facing concerns. This includes monitoring system health, tracking changes to the system, and understanding how users interact with it.

Observability is also a significant commercial advantage. Gartner claims, “Applied observability enables organizations to use their data artifacts for competitive advantage.” Organizations can enhance company operations and response rates by collecting data for improved decision-making.

By 2026, 70% of organizations that have successfully applied observability will have achieved shorter latency for decision-making, enabling competitive advantage for target business or IT processes.” Source: Gartner

WHY OBSERVABILITY IS VITAL IN SITE RELIABILITY ENGINEERING?

Observability has become a critical practice for engineers in various roles. First, observability technologies can assist developers in measuring and optimizing application performance before deployment. Second, IT engineers can use Observability to obtain visibility into problems in the production environment. Finally, observability tools can assist quality assurance engineers in determining why an application failed a test. Given that the fundamental objective of SREs is to maximize system reliability and performance, the ability to not only identify but also explain problems through Observability is crucial for current SRE teams. Observability may disclose reliability flaws in an application’s architectural design, for example, or in the orchestration tool that controls the program.

Here are a few reasons why Observability matters in site reliability engineering:

  • Identifying the problems:

    SREs value observability because they give visibility into how applications or systems behave at any given time. This insight lets you recognize possible concerns before they become more extensive or expensive, such as service outages.

  • Ensuring site reliability:

    Observability enables you to have a deeper understanding of your system and how it performs, allowing you to guarantee that it continues to function and execute dependably. In addition, SREs can fix flaws or vulnerabilities more quickly and effectively if they notice them early in development. The capacity to respond fast can assist SREs in preventing issues that could have a much more significant and negative impact on the firm.

  • Timely resolution:

    When problems do arise, Observability helps engineers to identify and resolve them quickly. By understanding the system’s behavior and the underlying cause of the problem, engineers may promptly take remedial action and restore system performance.

  • Preventing burnout:

    SREs frequently handle severe workloads, which can result in burnout—being able to prioritize work aids in avoiding burnout. SREs can utilize observability insights to determine what they should prioritize first—defining the most critical issues to address aids in deciding priorities. SREs can then devise a strategy to handle the problems of most significance first, resulting in a more manageable task list over time.

  • Implementing continuous enhancements:   

    Observability also enables continuous development by providing engineers with information on how a system acts over time. By analyzing system metrics and evaluating patterns, engineers can identify areas for improvement and apply changes that increase system reliability and performance.

  • Efficient customer satisfaction:

  • Addressing issues as they arise makes greater financial sense since it helps organizations to compete more effectively in a market where faster and better are valued. In addition, you don’t want clients having issues with your applications since this leads to a poor customer experience, which can severely affect the business. SREs can fix more defects and issues by responding rapidly to the underlying cause of problems through Observability, resulting in higher customer satisfaction.

FINAL THOUGHTS

SRE observability is critical for keeping systems dependable and efficient. It entails gathering, analyzing, and utilizing data to acquire insights into the operation of a system and detect possible flaws. As a result, SREs can proactively monitor and debug their systems using Observability best practices, resulting in shorter incident response times and greater customer satisfaction. 

SREs can use Observability to improve their understanding of systems. Engineers can better grasp what is happening behind the hood and what actions need to be taken as visibility improves. SLOs and alerts that are well-crafted assist SREs in reducing burnout and increasing effectiveness.

About the Author

Site Reliability Engineering, CLOUDCONTROL

Dr. Anil Kumar

VP Engineering, Cloud Control
Founder | Architect | Consultant | Mentor | Advisor | Faculty

Solution Architect and IT Consultant with more than 25 years of IT Experience. Served in various roles with both national and international institutions. Expertise in working with both legacy and advanced technology stacks and business domains.