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11 Observability Trends for 2022 Every CIO Should Know


With IT teams struggling to cope with today’s complex and dynamic IT environment, having a robust observability is becoming the need of the hour. It would mean fewer service disruptions, better customer experiences and more successful digital transformations.
Below are the key trends that will set up your engineers and developers to deliver amazing software that powers amazing digital experiences that fuel your organisation’s growth in 2022— and beyond.

  1. Observability becomes mission-critical

The success of every modern organisation hinges on delivering great digital experiences to employees, customers, and partners. That means that business is powered by the underlying infrastructure, networks, applications, microservices, and software that deliver those experiences. This trend has only been accelerated by the pandemic, which increased reliance on digital experiences for connecting with family, friends, co-workers, teachers, and doctors; shopping—and enjoying entertainment online.

How to Seize the Trend

If you aren’t already, make observability mission-critical within your organisation and prioritize budgets for observability as appropriate to systematically measure, improve, and grow your digital business.

2. Observability extends across the entire software lifecycle

Until now, traditional monitoring tools have mostly been used to troubleshoot and resolve errors in production environments. However, IT leaders, developers, and engineers are realizing that they can apply the same benefits of observability that they achieve when running (or operating) their software as they plan, build, and deploy it.

In fact, when used across the entire software lifecycle, observability helps to reduce the challenges when operating those production environments. It enables developers to collaborate on code inside the IDE to improve operational efficiency and gives them rich analysis tools to quickly uncover the root cause and resolve issues to improve uptime and reliability.

How to Seize the Trend

As you enter 2022, enable more of your engineers to use observability across the entire software lifecycle to plan, build, deploy, and run the great software that delivers great digital experiences. Your engineering teams will be able to do their best work based on data, not opinions. You can also better position them to achieve business objectives, from driving digital transformation to optimizing cloud usage, accelerating speed to market—and delivering great customer experiences that fuel innovation and growth.

3. Unified data-driven strategies overtake siloed, multi-tool approaches

The coming year and beyond will see data-driven observability gain further momentum. With end-to-end visibility, engineers and developers will have the deep insights they need to make informed business decisions based on data, not opinions, so they can do their jobs better, faster, more easily and efficiently.

This modern take on observability is in contrast to traditional monitoring methods and tools which employ multiple monitoring experiences, forcing users to toggle between a variety of stand-alone applications on top of purpose-built databases. This creates silos of data that inhibit true end-to-end, enterprise-wide data discovery and observability. The result is frustration and extra, time-wasting toil, that keeps engineers from doing the work they love: building and delivering amazing software.

How to Seize the Trend

It’s time to recognize that traditional monitoring tools fall short for monitoring siloed and complex microservice-based data. Empower your engineers with modern observability for a more comprehensive, data-driven approach. They’ll see all of their data when they need it, quickly capture insights to make critical business decisions, and then take action.

4. Data democratization ushers in observability for all

The explosion of big data reshaped the needs of engineers and developers, along with what they expect from their tools. Yet with the expanding number of people needing data across the organisation, enterprises are facing an entirely new set of challenges to get the right data in the right hands. For example, the only way for engineers and developers to optimize an application’s behavior or troubleshoot a “needle-in-the-haystack” unknown failure is to instrument and collect all the data about the environment at full fidelity and without sampling. But until recently, that’s been near impossible because it’s been too cumbersome and/or too expensive to instrument the full estate.

How to Seize the Trend

With changes in the observability landscape and new pricing approaches, IT leaders are now positioned to implement a strategy that gives everyone in their organisation the benefits of observability. With the economics in your favor you can finally get all of the right data into all of the right hands so they can make better, data-driven decisions to do their jobs faster, and better.

5. Tool consolidation improves efficiency and cost

To keep up with IT complexity, engineering teams have had to adopt an overwhelming amount of tools—both proprietary and open source—at a rapid pace. The average organisation uses dozens of tools across distributed teams to monitor different parts of their tech stack. Instead of helping teams innovate faster and improve mean time to detect (MTTD) and mean time to resolution (MTTR), tool sprawl has generated an onslaught of new problems. These include requiring engineers to spend an unreasonable amount of time stitching together siloed data and having to switch context between a patchwork of insufficient analysis tools—and even then, discovering blind spots.

How to Seize the Trend

Because observability requires data to be ingested, analysed, and cross-correlated all in one place, the natural next step for engineering leaders is to assess and rethink their existing toolset. Tool consolidation will gain momentum in 2022 as it enables software teams to save time, increase productivity and efficiency, and lower costs. Look at how you can direct your budget to fewer, more effective observability solutions to help your engineers get unified visibility across the tech stack.

6. Usage-based pricing tips the scales in the customer’s favor

The pricing structures of many monitoring tools actually discourages IT leaders and engineers and developers from ingesting all of their data because their pricing is confusing, difficult to predict and scale, and generally just too expensive. As a result, organisations compromise on visibility.

The move to modern observability and increasing its adoption includes shifting from legacy subscriptions to usage-based consumption and pricing models that align with customer success. With modern consumption-based pricing, organisations get full visibility into all of their telemetry and only pay for what they use. With digital businesses relying on increasingly complex software systems, IT leaders will start demanding this pricing model from their observability vendors because it’s easy to understand, predict, and scale. Plus, usage-based pricing will be given preference as it promises to remove upfront guesswork on usage and the shelfware frustrations and overage penalties that often follow.

How to Seize the Trend

If you aren’t already familiar with available usage-based pricing for software like that from Amazon Web Services, Snowflake, and New Relic, take the opportunity to explore it. Learn how you might be able to achieve even more value while making your observability platform (and your organisation’s data) available to more engineers and developers across the software lifecycle. It’s a great first step to seize all of the first six trends listed above.

7. Observability shifts from “it’s complicated” to an “open” relationship

Having a variety of tools to choose from creates challenges in telemetry data collection. Organisations find themselves managing multiple libraries for logging, metrics, and traces, with each vendor having its own APIs, SDKs, agents, and collectors. An open-source, community-driven approach to observability will gain steam in 2022 to remove unnecessary complications by tapping into the latest advancements in observability practice.

With continued innovation and investment, observability will work out-of-the-box by default and use open standards to make it even more accessible to all. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2025, 70% of new cloud-native application monitoring will use open-source instrumentation rather than vendor-specific agents for improved interoperability. Open-source standards such as OpenTelemetry and OpenMetrics are converging in the industry, preventing vendor lock-in and bringing us a step closer to unified observability.

How to Seize the Trend

Encourage your engineering teams to tap into open-source technologies like OpenTelemetry to advance their observability practice and capabilities.

8. The rising tide of Kubernetes and containers floats observability boats too

With the Observability Forecast highlighting that 88% of IT decision-makers are exploring Kubernetes, with 25% of respondents conducting research, 25% evaluating, 29% in development and 10% in production, the popularity of Kubernetes continues to explode. This growth also brings challenges and gaps from the necessary cultural shift to technology trends and advancements. As the next wave of microservices and more stateful applications are deployed on Kubernetes and container-based platforms, there is a need for more visibility into operations, as well as tools for self-defense and self-healing against malicious applications (both intentional and inadvertent).

Looking forward, as teams use more microservices and serverless architectures, they will reduce the amount of interaction with the underlying infrastructure. This allows more focus on the application and other business needs and will lead to an improved developer experience in 2022.

How to Seize the Trend

It’s no secret that most Kubernetes monitoring solutions, including amazing tools like Prometheus, are designed primarily for operations teams, which made sense in the early days. However, that’s not the case anymore. When your team is looking for an actionable observability platform, make sure they request tools that are purpose-built for developers to identify performance bottlenecks faster with code-level insights. This will help your engineering teams to seamlessly drill down into both application-level and infrastructure-level behavior, so they can correlate the impact that application changes are having on the infrastructure and vice versa.

9. Increasing adoption of a DevOps mindset for observability

By adopting a DevOps mindset and embracing agile rather than waterfall development, engineering teams will be able to shift from a culture of blame and finger-pointing to one of empathy and ongoing improvement. This will position engineers and developers to release better software, faster, and meet the growing expectations of their organisations. Just as digital companies have updated the way they plan, build, deploy, and operate software, they will now look to modernize their approach to monitoring that software with observability tools that benefit not only the DevOps team, but the entire organisation.

 How to Seize the Trend

With increasing pressure mounting on engineering teams across industries, observability is key to delivering a positive user experience in the face of ever-expanding software applications. Adopting a DevOps culture will enable your teams to cut through the noise and focus on the performance issues that have the biggest impact on your business, customers, and employees.

10. Observability cultivates collaboration among engineering teams

Observability is quickly becoming the industry gold standard to help software engineering teams and developers through the inevitable times when something goes wrong in the continuous integration/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. The reasons are clear: When the CI/CD pipeline is observable, engineering teams have more confidence in their code, and they can move faster to implement fixes when needed. And when observability platforms enable collaboration on code directly within the developer environment (IDE), asking questions for better understanding, highlighting potential errors, and partnering on code becomes second nature—as does delivering even better outcomes as a matter of engineering practice.

Looking forward, modern observability will enable and cultivate a culture of collaboration across software engineering and development disciplines by allowing teams to better collaborate. The result will be stronger teams, procedures, and alert systems that improve the way engineers handle monitoring and incident detection throughout the software lifecycle.

How to Seize the Trend

As you build your observability team in today’s distributed workplace, make sure all your SREs and developers have access to your observability tools. This will enable all your engineers around the world to have access to real-time data for decision making, and make cross-functional collaboration more efficient and easier.

11. Observability continues to improve service and reliability

As organisations work in a world that increasingly relies more on digital services—due to COVID-19 or otherwise—the data from these applications can give us greater detail into real-world performance. For example, an increase in web traffic or application demand will usually be linked to higher levels of transactions and business. This increase can be seen and tracked across application components, but it can also be seen in revenue too. That’s why observability data has a greater purpose beyond just showing us how well our app components are performing over time. Instead, moving forward this data will be used to improve both the ability to handle risks and show where business results are affected.

How to Seize the Trend

observalibityIt’s far more common today for your engineering teams to tackle service and reliability issues on a regular basis. When planning for next year’s IT infrastructure, think about observability from a reliability perspective. This will ensure that your applications are better able to handle issues like a cloud outage or service failure.

(The author Ben Goodman is Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, New Relic and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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