The Future of Cloud-Native Observability and 5 Open Source Tools to Help You With Cloud-Native Observability

Observability is not monitoring

Based on what we mentioned before, you might be thinking that observability is the same as monitoring. In fact, monitoring is one process that drives observability, but observability is much more than that. Monitoring only uses surface-level data to tell you what is going on on the surface of the problem. Monitoring does not help you to gain an understanding of the internal state of the system, but observability does.

How to observe different systems?

The observability strategy varies from system to system. We explore three different kinds of systems below [1].

  • Distributed systems observability: In distributed systems, applications run in either containerized microservices such as TARS or serverless functions that are spread across clusters of servers. In this case, observability requires the analysis and correlation of many types of data as well as the interpretation of complex relationships between different servers/environments.
  • Cloud observability: If you use multiple clouds, you need to collect and analyze data from all your cloud providers, convert them to the same data formatting, and observe the environment. Serverless functions, however, limit your ability to monitor host servers and you might not have the complete operating system logs.
  • Orchestrator observability: If you use an orchestrator like Kubernetes, you need to track the state of the orchestrator as well as the servers, containers, and applications. Although it is more complicated, you also have more data sources to help contextualize events and discover patterns in each layer of the system.
  1. Prometheus has built-in service discovery and functions by collecting data via a pull model over HTTP.
  2. Jaeger monitors and troubleshoots transactions in complex distributed systems.
  3. Fluentd tracks events from many sources and centralizes these logs in a common database.
  4. OpenTelemetry collects telemetry data, such as metrics, logs, and traces, from various sources to integrate with many types of analysis tools.
  5. Grafana helps you to visualize data from various sources.

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Isabella Ferreira

Isabella Ferreira

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I'm a PhD Candidate in Computer Engineering at PolyMTL. I'm passionated about Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) development.