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Learn about observability

What is observability?  🔗

Observability in software is the ability to understand and explain any state a system can get into, no matter how novel or bizarre, without deploying new code.

The term comes from control theory, where it’s defined as “a measure of how well internal states of a system can be inferred by knowledge of its external outputs.” How well can you understand a system’s internal states from the data it’s already giving you?

In the world of software products and services, observability allows you to answer any question about the system without having to ship new code–add new log lines or metrics–to answer those new questions. Observability is what we need our tools to deliver now that system complexity is outpacing our ability to predict what’s going to break.

Why do we need observability?  🔗

Software is becoming exponentially more complex.

When environments are as complex as they are today, simply monitoring for known problems doesn’t address the growing number of new issues that arise. These new issues are “unknown unknowns,” meaning that without an observable system, you don’t know what is causing the problem and you don’t have a standard starting point/graph to find out.

Even a team’s resident expert can’t predict and solve for every emergent failure mode that may occur in modern production software systems. Having an observable system means that everyone on your team has the ability to understand what’s happening in your software.

Honeycomb is designed to help you you gather as much context as you can from your production systems so you can investigate and debug new and complex problems. The goal is to empower your team to start observing your system proactively so that you’re able to

All with a data-driven approach based on what’s actually happening in your production systems.

How can you improve observability?  🔗

Improving software observability requires two things: capturing telemetry data with a lot of runtime context, and the ability to query that data iteratively in order to find new insights (all without deploying any code in between).

Put more simply, you need:

  1. High-context telemetry data
  2. The ability to interact with that data

Structured events are the form of telemetry data that truly enables observability in software. Honeycomb works by ingesting your structured event and then making it available for you to interact with in near-real time. To get the most out of Honeycomb’s features, we recommend instrumenting your code.

Ready to try it out? Start sending data to Honeycomb.

Learn more about observability  🔗

If you’re new to this topic and want a deeper introduction, download our whitepapers:

Observability for developers Observability maturity model