Access and Feeds

Observability versus Monitoring in IT Operations

By Dick Weisinger

The terms Observability and Monitoring are frequently used when discussing IT Operations.

Observability is the process of checking outputs from a system to infer what is happening internal to the system. This is often done by reviewing infrastructure logs, traces and metrics.

Monitoring refers to the process of interpreting the log and metrics data collected from observation and turning observations into actionable conclusions.

If something is observable, it can be monitored.

Blackbox monitoring checks to see externally whether something is working as expected or whether it is broken. Whitebox monitoring checks for signals that are symptomatic of potential problems.

Stephen Elliot, program vice president for I&O at analysis firm IDC, said that “enterprises are beginning to recognize that with the vast amount of different types of data sources, you sort of have to have monitoring. You have more complexity in the system, in the environment, and what remains is the need for performance availability capabilities. In production, this has been a theme for 20 years. This is a need-to-have, not a nice-to-have.”

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