Observability seems to be the fashionable term for what we used to call monitoring, but is it really that simple? Observability is much more than a word game when used in the IT Application / Service Delivery arena.
A bit of history may help give a clear picture of Observability. As a concept, it originated in the mathematics subfield of control systems engineering. The study of Control Theory dates back to the 1870s when Edward Roth developed the idea of Controllability and Observability of sensor data as a continual feedback mechanism. They were recognized as key concepts that have evolved into manufacturing automation. The continuous, never-ending feedback concept reminds me of the Möbius loop, the never-ending edge that represents the infinity sign and the inspiration for our company’s name.
During the last 150 years, the Observability concept expanded from the manufacturing arena to include the current day Application Performance Management and Digital Omnichannel Solution areas. The transition from old-school monitoring of infrastructure (compute, network and storage) to an Observability posture implies differences in culture, technologists and underlying technology.
Observability dovetails into organizations that are practicing Agile development methodologies and are embracing Dev/Ops concepts for the SDLC. Observability as a culture is the degree to which a team or company values the ability to inspect and understand systems, their workloads and their behavior. Companies that have a strong observability culture often have specific observability teams, although they may not be named as such.