As your systems become larger and more complex, it’s essential that your entire engineering org understands what’s going on under the hood of your systems, not just a few individuals or teams.
Observability is an essential way to understand complex, distributed systems. As an engineering leader, how can you kickstart observability in your company? How can you get your engineers invested, protect them from the core challenges related to observability, and encourage them to start using observability in new everyday ways?
Do your engineers have visibility into your systems? In this panel discussion, a group of engineering leaders discussed how you can get engineers thinking about, using, and engaging in your observability strategy.
Featuring Amy Tobey (Principal Engineer at Equinix), Thom Duran (Director of SRE at Moogsoft, Shery Brauner (Engineering Manager at Zalando), Parveen Khan (Senior Analyst Consultant at Thoughtworks), and Tiani Jones (Sociotechnologist at The Ready), the panel explored:
- How educating your teams can help them gain visibility into distributed systems
- How implementing processes can spread observability throughout your engineers
- How identifying observability training gaps is key to getting your team up to speed
- How to build a culture of good practices to quickly identify and solve complex set-backs
Like all complex systems, computer services are difficult to understand. In this article, Alex Hidalgo addresses the difficulties of observability for engineering leaders: How can you get teams to understand what observing a complex system actually entails? And how can you make sure systems are properly observed when there are multiple folks involved?
Alex dives into these problems and offers some potential workarounds. He explains that you’ll never be able to understand all parts of your systems, but by educating your team in the correct ways to think about observability, and providing them with the time and resources they need, you can help them to observe their services as best they can.
If you want to know what is going on with your services, you need to rely on your company’s ability to monitor and interpret your systems’ outputs. In this article, Thom Duran outlines the importance of observability and shares advice for getting started in your company.
Thom shares the key things to consider when embarking on your observability journey, including focusing on delivering value to customers, asking questions instead of making assumptions, setting achievable measurable goals, and finding sponsors and partners to help you reach your goals.
Observability isn’t only helpful when dealing with outages. In this article, Tom Clement Oketch shares how you can use observability tools in other scenarios, from understanding what normal looks like in your systems, to monitoring the impact of changes in the development stage, to keeping track of your engineers’ day-to-day experience.
Tom shares advice for introducing the concept of everyday observability usage to your team. By encouraging engineers to explore systems (not just during outages), making observability part of your definition of when a project is ‘done’, and starting to think creatively about applying observability in non-traditional ways, you can start improving both the systems you’re building and the experience of your teams.
A final takeaway
Throughout the series, the authors and panelists agreed that getting your engineers invested in observability isn’t without challenges. But as Thom Duran noted, ‘the importance of observability cannot be overstated’. By arming your teams with the knowledge to start thinking about observability correctly, giving folks the time they need to adjust to the new mindset, and building a culture of curiosity around the way systems work, you and your engineers can start leveraging all the benefits observability has to offer.