Monitoring vs. Observability: Can You Tell The Difference?

Monitoring vs. Observability: Can You Tell The Difference?

Monitoring vs. Observability: Can You Tell The Difference? Monitoring will get you information about your system and let you know if there's a failure.

Is your monitoring system observable?

Observability has gained a lot of popularity in recent years. Modern DevOps paradigms encourage building robust applications by incorporating automation, Infrastructure as Code, and agile development. To assess the health and “robustness” of IT systems, engineering teams typically use logs, metrics, and traces, which are used by various developer tools to facilitate observability. But what is observability exactly, and how does it differ from monitoring?

Wikipedia’s definition of observability

“Observability is a measure of how well internal states of a system can be inferred from knowledge of its external outputs.” —  Wikipedia

An observable system allows us to assess how the system works without interfering or even interacting with it. Simply by looking at the outputs of a system (such as logs, metrics, traces), we can assess how this system is performing.

Monitoring vs. Observability

One of the best explanations about monitoring and observability I’ve seen was provided in an online course, “Building Modern Python Applications on AWS”, by Morgan Willis, a Senior Cloud Technologist at AWS.

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