The three pillars of observability: How valid are they?

The three pillars of observability: How valid are they?

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Many believe that the “three pillars of observability” — logs, metrics and traces — are generally the important types of data for observing applications or infrastructure.

Ian Smith (pictured), field chief technology officer of Chronosphere Inc., however, believes these three pillars get overly emphasized.

“What do you do with that? There’s no action there. It’s just data,” Smith said. “You collect this data, you go put it somewhere, but [the three pillars are] not actually talking about any sort of outcomes. And I think that’s really the heart of the issue … you’re not achieving anything. You’re just collecting a whole bunch of data.”

Smith spoke with theCUBE industry analysts John Furrier and Lisa Martin at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA 2022, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed the three pillars of observability, the problem with that idea, and what Chronosphere is doing differently to help manage data. (* Disclosure below.) 

Are the three pillars of observability effective?

Better questions to really think through around data are not just observing the data, but actually thinking through ways to use it and understand it when issues do arise, according to Smith. The three pillars of observability should be know, triage and understand, he added.

“When you have an instant or you’re trying to investigate something through observability, you probably want to know what’s going on,” Smith said. “You want to triage any problems you detect. And then, finally, you wanna understand the cause of those and be able to take longer term steps … to address them.”

There often indicators that companies aren’t approaching data management effectively, according to Smith. One is when companies end up buying a lot of disconnected tools as they try to figure out how to observe and manage data, but if they don’t’ actually have a cohesive workflow, it won’t be a path to success.

“Another key indicator of problems is … do you always need particular senior engineers … to help answer particular performance problems?” Smith said. “Senior engineers …probably need to be focused on innovation and competitive differentiation, but then they become the bottleneck, and you have this massive sort of wedge of … less experienced engineers … who aren’t effective at being able to address these problems because the … workflows are incorrect.”

One of the things Chronosphere, a cloud-native observability platform, does well is thinking about what customers can achieve from their data, according to Smith. With Chronosphere’s alerts and dashboards, organizations are able to start distributed tracing where they can actually know their data and its impact and turn it into actionable results.

“Being able to make sure that my solution’s reliable so that when I need it the most, and I can affect reliability of my own solution … that’s a really key aspect of it,” Smith stated. “One of the things, though, that … we look at is it’s not just about the outcomes and the value … it’s ROI.”

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon NA 2022 event:

(* Disclosure: Chronosphere Inc. sponsored this segment of theCUBE. Neither Chronosphere nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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