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Steps to Implement an Observability Strategy in Microservices Environments

Steps to Implement an Observability Strategy in Microservices Environments

Your organization has finally made the decision, and you are moving to microservices by re-architecting the complete infrastructure. However some services will still be on-premises, as the databases and their apps cannot be moved, but the cloud-based architecture will help your teams with a faster build of products and bringing them to the market.

Meanwhile, do you have any strategy to handle the complexity coming with microservices and cloud? You know that your organization needs a strategy for managing and monitoring the ephemeral nature and complex dependencies of your new structure but don’t have any idea as to where to start from. Well, if you don’t have the time and money to spend on experimenting, then it would be a complete loss for your organization if you realize a few months later that you are going in the wrong direction. So, you need to make your investment future-proof, and for that, you need to implement an observability strategy.

Observability is much more than just monitoring; it provides you with closer operational insights, lesser quality problems, shorter incidents, an improved product, and satisfied customers. The observability needs of every company are different, this means that your company’s approach to the observability strategy should also be unique. This being usually the case, it is essential to start with defined goals and a roadmap. Below are the key things that need to be considered for making a comprehensive observability strategy built for the long run. 

The Observability Platform that you choose must fit meets your future

Suppose your company is continuously investing in upgrading to new technologies like containers, Kubernetes, and microservices. In that case, you will see a noticeable increment in the scale of your environment and its ephemerality. 

The monitoring platform that you may find suitable for your current environment most likely won’t be able to meet your company’s future requirements.  So, you should consider the long-term strategy and select a platform that will best fit your infrastructure even after four or five years. 

It does not matter whether you choose an open-source tool or commercial tool, but what matters is that you consider your future infrastructure and select a platform that can effectively address your environment’s future needs while at the same time can also protect your investment. 

Monitoring the Metrics that Matters

Suppose your company is still in the early period of shifting from monitoring to observability. In that case, it is most likely that your approach is service-based, where you are monitoring some parts of your ecosystem and focusing on the individual incidents. An observability’s real value is in its ability to offer visibility in the big-scenario issues like user experience measurement, SLO performance, and many other important metrics. 

Even a slight increase in a microservice can result in increased latency for a specific feature, a complete product, or even a customer in the modern environment. Thus, choosing an observability platform that collects and measures data across different dimensions, e.g., service/application specific, business/customer specific, and host/container/infra specific, will help better understand the telemetry in several ways. Also, the platform should be able to aggregate your service interactions and unlock a pool of data for data engineers to investigate if any issues arise. Also, this would help them provide visibility into the most critical metrics of your business. 

Make observability a part of your incident management process

One of the hot topics right now is incident management. Many organizations and industries have great tools for providing detailed telemetry, but everything breaks down when an incident occurs. So, they better need to embed observability as an integral part of their incident management system. Say, for example, your incident management team can help you know the role and usefulness of observability in case of a given incident and keep a record of those results. Doing this will help you know its ongoing benefits and keep track of it. 

Next, you can ask your incident management team how to improve the observability to have the team get a closer view of the crucial clues they need in case of an incident. Finally, wrap these items into your remediation plans so that the team gets a clear playbook while any incidents occur. 

Establish an observability culture across the organization

Deploying any type of new technology in your organization is simply not enough. You must make sure that appropriate norms and processes have been built around the new platform for ensuring its success – it’s true, especially with observability platforms. The modern observability platforms prove to be very powerful in offering insight into the ecosystem and its performance. Still, without investing in your organization’s ability to use the platform, you will hardly be able to get and explore its true value. 

Continuous improvement and investment are required by observability. You can start by making a core group with the champions, then turn training into onboarding, brown-bag sessions, or continuing education. Creating content using experts of subject matter is an excellent way to take everyone in the right direction. The output you get from the observability tools is helpful for using in company meetings, support settings, or team syncs to keep everyone on the same track. Such standardization also raises your entire organization’s collective skill and exhibits the value of observability to the people who haven’t onboarded to the platform. 

Wrap Up

Following the above four steps will take you in the right direction towards the journey of observability. If your organization is also like most other organizations, you need to keep a check on what you think could go wrong. A mature and modern observability strategy will help by providing insights into what was unknown previously and helping you understand more quickly why such incidents occur. When you keep on going on your observability journey, you get a better understanding of what things break and why. This will help you implement more effective automated improvements that will positively impact your company’s bottom line. 



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