Observability and monitoring are probably the two most confusing words in the world of DevOps. How are they related? See the differences between these two-terms of DevOps in this article. Does one rely on the other or are they independent of each other? Some will argue that observability is just a fancy word for monitoring. Nonetheless, the relationship, or the lack thereof, of these two elements is currently one of the most debatable topics in DevOps. Well, the truth is always out there and it’s up to you to find it. This article will dissect the meaning of these two terms and what you need to know about them.
To understand the difference between observability and monitoring, you must have an idea of what development and operations (or DevOps) really mean. It is the effective coordination and communication of three key aspects of any development sector. These areas include software development, IT operations, and quality assurance (QA). They all must work together efficiently for any company to succeed. With such coordination, it is a lot easier to track down any possible problem before it even occurs. Also, in the case of downtime or any other related issues, a solution can be found by combining ideas from all the three departments.
Demystifying Observability And Monitoring
Before getting into the nits and grits of this topic, it would be prudent to define the two terms first. So, what is observability? There are many ways you could define it. Perhaps, the easiest one of them all is that it is the ability of a system’s internal state to be determined by the external outputs. In other words, the observer looks at how the outputs behave and the results are, then, used to determine the possible state of the internal components.
Back when technology was still in its early stages, most systems had limited failure modes, which was, of course, an advantage to the users and repairers. Why is that so? Well, whenever something broke down, it was easier to trace the root cause because there were usually only three possibilities. Yes, these systems failed over and over again in the same three ways. You can see why there was no need to observe the performance of the output channels.
Difference Between Observability VS Monitoring In DevOps: Advancement of Technology
However, with the advancement of technology, systems were made more complex than ever before. As such, the number of failure modes increased, to the point where it became quite overwhelming for those tasked with repairing. This is the time when monitoring tools were born.
Now, you might be wondering what monitoring means. In simple terms, this is a systematic procedure of data collection, analysis, and use of the information to guide the management process towards its objectives. It is usually done once a program is up and running, and is sometimes referred to as performance evaluation.
A monitorable system is one that has very few or no unknown-unknowns. What this means is that its operation is predictable and any future outcomes can be calculated using the collected data. As such, it is easier to prevent future failures or trace the origin of the current problems. Observability and monitoring have close meanings, but what’s their difference?