Dzone’s Trend Report on Performance and Site Reliability
Excited to announce the latest DZone Trend Report on Performance and Site Reliability. A great survey on the state of the industry and teams’ efforts to supply more performance for their users and teams.
At TelemetryHub we’re focused on open solutions to the growing problem of observing complex microservice stacks. TelemetryHub is an OpenTelemetry endpoint, supporting the open standards for telemetry data that will soon be industry-standard.
The future of Observability is Open.
Included in the DZone report is an article by Sudip Sengupta, Principal Architect & Technical Writer at Javelynn, on “Building an Open-Source Observability Toolchain.” There’s a great passage about the issues of fragmentation in existing, closed tools:
In spite of their individual benefits, observability tools have limited scope and are mostly focused to monitor only one of the key pillars of observability. Adopting multiple tools also discourages the concept of a single source of truth for comprehensive observability.
OSS can provide more detailed debugging information, giving developers greater insight into what’s causing an issue and allowing for more effective problem-solving. OSS also provides a platform for collaboration, allowing users to share their own code and benefit from the collective knowledge of the community. Finally, open-source tools are more cost-effective and stay up-to-date with the latest technologies.
OpenTelemetry has become a cornerstone of many teams’ observability strategies. It offers a vendor-neutral approach to application performance monitoring and provides enhanced visibility into application performance, latency, and errors. The extensible architecture enables developers to quickly integrate new instruments and custom metrics into their application layers. It also supports a range of integrations for backend monitoring and supports a wide range of options for distributed tracing.
The centrality of Distributed Tracing
One theme mentioned in the report several times was the difficulty of fully monitoring a microservice architecture. This makes sense because the whole concept of microservices is small teams that understand only their portion of the stack. Naturally, more microservices would make it harder to see the whole picture. The solution is Distributed Tracing.
Distributed tracing is a vital component of properly administering and managing microservices. This gives insight into app/service performance, accuracy, and availability across distributed components, enabling better issue analysis. Tracing shows real-time interactions between services within an app by tracking requests from start to finish in all component communication. As technology advances and continues to become more complex, having tools that provide insight are vital for efficient debugging processes.
In addition, distributed tracing lets teams easily identify what parts may be performing poorly; this is done by measuring latency along entire request lifecycle paths established between various services. This helps identify current bottlenecks and prevent future ones during updates and changes to the system architecture.
A surprising fact about Distributed Traces, despite how well they measure component latency: often, the users of the tracing data don’t want to see that latency information. One thing I’ve heard many times in my work with observability is, ‘I want to see my traces. I don’t care about the performance of components, and I just want to know which components were touched by this request.’
This shows how far we are down the microservice architecture rabbit hole: often, we rely on distributed tracing just to show where our requests are going.
Implementing distributed tracing provides significant benefits for maintaining efficient operations, both in cloud and hybrid environments. A single source of truth enhances production and optimizes software development architecture in a cost-effective manner, especially in the growing microservice landscape of 2021 and beyond.
A Strong, Clear Vision.
As Developers, we’ve all seen the dark side of a microservice architecture: along with small teams on single microservices, you have small tools and meta systems. A tower of babel where security, monitoring, and even bug tracking tools aren’t shared across teams. What causes this muddle?
A lack of clear leadership.
22.1% reported that teams using multiple tools is a challenge their organization faces when implementing observability. Cross-departmental alignment — and even cross-dev team alignment — remains a key sticking point for many organizations. This can be an issue not just for gaining a comprehensive understanding of a system’s state but also for organizational efficiency and avoiding double-dipping into budgets. More cross-team alignment about the tools being used makes things easier for everyone. 34.9% of respondents who said that lack of leadership is a challenge in their organization’s adoption of observability practices could play a part here.
Having the right leadership can have a huge impact on aligning teams more effectively. Leadership that is open to implementing observability tools and processes can create an organizational culture that understands its benefits. A well-trained technical leader can help team members streamline setup, understand the data they are gathering, and build the necessary dashboards to measure performance. Leaders must have a strong understanding of their organizational vision and how observability supports that goal.
Organizational resistance to change and lack of understanding of observability value can also hinder implementation. Or unable to see the value in implementing observability processes. This is another area where leadership can intervene and set the organization’s wider objectives for all teams to strive towards. By breaking down silos between departments, properly introducing observability practices and tools, and having a clear vision from leadership, organizations overcome the 22.1% challenge of multiple tools use and the 34.9% challenge of lack of leadership in their adoption of observability practices.
We generally say it’s better to have some tracking than no tracking. Still, too many tools without clear leadership about where data should be tracked and monitored can often hurt observability, leading to some engineers who understand only their part of the system.
Culture is still key.
Team culture plays a crucial role in incident success, despite the importance of tooling and instrumentation. Vision, leadership, and team culture are listed as some of the biggest barriers to incident response.
Incident Response: Culture Matters
In 2015, Google’s engineering leadership identified ‘psychological safety’ as key to effective teams. It refers to a team environment where members can speak up without fear of negative consequences. Leaders now emphasize building psychological safety for improved innovation and productivity. In pursuit of this sense of safety, more and more teams have explored ‘blameless postmortems.’
Sarah Davis, a writer for DZone, writes about the concept in an article attached to the report. A blameless postmortem process is a post-incident review that focuses on learning instead of blaming. In a blameless incident analysis process, the team isn’t focused on finding someone to blame. Instead, it’s about understanding what happened, why it happened, and how to prevent similar incidents from occurring again in the future. This type of postmortem removes the fear of being reprimanded and encourages open discussion in a non-judgmental setting. By focusing on learning and growth instead of blame, teams can begin to view incidents as an opportunity for improvement rather than a punishment.
The benefits of a blameless postmortem process are undeniable. It creates an environment where people can feel more comfortable discussing what happened and why it happened. In turn, this encourages candor and open communication, which helps teams better identify and address issues. In turn, leads to more reliable and resilient systems. Furthermore, since they’re not focused on assigning blame, teams have more time and energy to focus on mitigating risks, developing new processes, and improving existing ones.
Ultimately, a blameless postmortem process helps to create a culture of learning and growth. This can drive positive change and improvement in your organization. Teams are more likely to learn from their mistakes, experiment with new ideas, and solve complex problems if they don’t feel anxious or afraid of the consequences. This type of culture encourages teams to take ownership of their projects and strive for excellence.
A blameless postmortem process can be a powerful tool for improving the reliability of systems and services. It encourages open communication, helps teams learn from their mistakes, and fosters a culture of growth and improvement. In short, a blameless postmortem process can help ensure that outages and incidents are handled effectively and efficiently and that similar issues can be avoided in the future.
Open and Simple are the design goals.
OpenTelemetry was created to simplify complexity. The complexity of modern production architecture required open standards for communicating telemetry from all the pieces. However, OpenTelemetry also tackles the complexity of observation tools, alerting and monitoring infrastructure, and answering the question ‘what’s happening with our stack.’
OpenTelemetry provides a language to communicate with all the components of the software, cloud services, and hardware. It allows for more comprehensive visibility into system performance and behavior. This enables us to gain insights that weren’t possible before. Alerting and monitoring solutions can get the data they need without understanding the underlying technologies, using this language.
This way, OpenTelemetry makes system observability easier, more efficient, and more powerful.
If you’d like to jump into OpenTelemetry, our TelemetryHub provides a simple and efficient tool to collect your OTel data. Our OpenTelemetry endpoint can get you useful information dashboards with quick deployment. Try it today!