Observability is key to keeping systems running smoothly, especially in software development. It gives developers deep insights, allowing them to solve problems early, much like a doctor diagnoses an illness by its symptoms. Observability keeps digital systems resilient and efficient by monitoring signs that indicate their health.

Leaders in the field, such as Newrelic, Datadog, and standards like OpenTelemetry, have transformed how monitoring is done. They offer sophisticated tools that capture everything from code behavior to overall infrastructure health. These tools help developers collect detailed data, store it efficiently, and use advanced visuals to understand it better. This not only makes diagnosing problems easier but also helps improve system performance and reliability.

The process involves three key steps: adding measurement tools to the system, storing data in a way that's easy to manage, and using visual tools for a clear view of the system's state. This methodical approach allows developers to keep a close eye on software, analyze data effectively, and make decisions that enhance stability and performance.

After Ops teams set things up, developers personalize observability with dashboards, alerts, and debugging tools. However, several challenges persist:

  • Quality Assurance: It's crucial to rigorously test observability components to ensure they're reliable.

  • Deployment Consistency: It's important to make sure that no data points or alerts are overlooked in various deployments.

  • Organizational Standardization: There's a need for a uniform observability approach to avoid differences based on personal or team preferences.

  • Component Discoverability: Establishing a central place for easy access to observability tools is essential for promoting efficiency and teamwork.

Tackling these issues is key to enhancing the effectiveness of observability, thereby improving system stability and operational performance.

Spotting Observability Gaps and Blind Spots

Identifying weaknesses is key to a robust observability framework. Signs of trouble include unreliable alerts, difficulties with analyzing incidents, and ongoing issues within teams. Fixing these problems enhances both system management and reliability.

These challenges often reveal deeper issues:

  • Unreliable Alerts: When our alert system is quiet, it might not be a sign of stability but a warning of missing data or oversight. Properly identifying what signals to track is vital to ensure alerts truly represent the system's condition.

  • Unclear RCA: Struggling to find the root cause after an incident suggests we might be missing crucial data or not have enough tools in place. If investigations frequently hit a dead end, it's a sign that standardization of observability components might need a boost.

  • Recurrence of similar issues: When the same problems keep happening across different teams, it points to a gap in how we share and apply knowledge. This suggests a need to improve how once an issue is fixed stays fixed

Our analysis of the outlined challenges has led us to an insightful conclusion. The difficulties we face stem not from the tools at our disposal but from the struggle to maintain consistent configurations across deployments. Recognizing this, we've shifted our focus towards a more streamlined approach.

We now prioritize the delivery of observability artifacts over the traditional method of manual configuration. This change in strategy is designed to bypass the inherent complexities of setting up each tool individually. By doing so, we ensure that our observability framework is both consistent and dependable, enhancing the overall reliability of our systems.

Embrace the Future: By-Design Observability 

How do we do it at Facets?

At Facets, we meticulously shape our processes to ensure consistent success throughout the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC). Our strategy places a strong emphasis on observability, treating it as essential to deployment, just as critical as release artifacts. This principle guarantees that observability is woven into the fabric of our development process from the start.

  • Integration of Observability Components:

    • Across All Development Phases: Embedding these elements at each stage ensures seamless accessibility and deployment.

    • Boosting Reliability and Efficiency: Our systems benefit from increased reliability and efficiency, reflecting our dedication to quality.

Our approach reflects a deep commitment to maintaining and enhancing software health proactively. By integrating observability components as fundamental elements of the deployment process, we:

  • Ensure Smooth Deployment: Observability tools are readily available for easy integration.

  • Showcase Our Commitment to Excellence: This method demonstrates our ongoing dedication to the health and performance of our software from the outset.

Let’s see how at each stage of SDLC we can add observability:

Plan Phase: We start by setting clear Service Level Objectives (SLOs) and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to outline performance goals. Product teams also define key business metrics to track how well a new feature is being adopted and performing. Technical leads go deeper, pinpointing specific metrics like API or database performance for a detailed analysis of the feature's success.

Develop Phase: We embrace "metric discovery," a game-changing feature from the Open Metrics project, making it easy to automatically find and collect metrics in a unified way. Applications need to include metadata for this, like in helm charts, to simplify metric setup. We also integrate visualizations and alerts, using tools like Grafana for dashboards and Prometheus for alerts, making observability proactive from the start.

Continuous Integration Phase: This phase focuses on ensuring that metrics, dashboards, and alerts align with our high standards. By embedding observability standards into the CI process, like requiring specific metrics for GRPC applications, we ensure a consistent and integrated approach across all developments.

Deploy Phase: We centralize the rollout of metrics, dashboards, and alerts just like to code to maintain consistency across environments. We avoid configuring alerts and dashboards directly as that doesn’t guarantee any consistency. This ongoing process ensures that any updates or enhancements are uniformly applied, keeping our observability framework accurate and effective.

Operate Phase: Constant monitoring allows us to ensure our observability tools accurately reflect system performance and adhere to benchmarks. This ongoing analysis feeds valuable insights back into our planning and development, creating a cycle of continuous improvement. This not only boosts system reliability but also keeps our observability practices up to date with system changes.

SDLC Phase

Observability Actions


- Define SLOs/SLAs & Business Metrics


- Configure Metric discovery & Define Metrics, Dashboards, and Alerts

Continuous Integration

- Review & Refine Metrics, Dashboards, and Alerts


- Automatic Rollouts of Metrics, Dashboards, and Alerts to environments


- Analyze Metrics, Generate Feedback & Address Incidents

Crafting the Future of Observability

Integrating observability into the SDLC from the start represents a forward-thinking change in software development. Instead of adding observability later, this method includes it from the beginning. This ensures that teams can use valuable insights throughout development to improve software quality and durability.

This approach brings foresight and creativity into the development process. Just as an artist imagines the finished artwork before starting, developers can foresee and prepare for future challenges. Monitoring and analysis become key parts of development, helping continuously improve applications.

Additionally, this method encourages ongoing learning and development. Each project learns from the last, leading to better and more innovative solutions. By adopting this mindset, teams make software that not only meets today's needs but is also ready for tomorrow's challenges, pushing technology forward with each update.