Observability and the Monitoring Maturity Module

Allyson BarrChief Marketing Officer
6 min read

In incident management, observability is the ability of an organization or team to infer a system's internal state from its external outputs. The goals of IT observability are simple and straightforward, and they include:

  • Reliability: Ensuring your systems perform how they should and when you need them to

  • Business continuity: Maximizing uptime by preventing problems that could impact business performance

  • Business growth: Making sure your infrastructure not just functions well but also supports the advancement of your organization

The Monitoring Maturity Levels Explained

Different organizations approach observability differently, and the monitoring maturity model is a tool you can use to assess your observability infrastructure.

Level 1: Individual Component Monitoring

At the first level, you are able to monitor multiple components using different monitoring systems. Each monitoring tool produces its own alerts, which could result in several emails letting you know something has gone wrong. At Level 1, however, you don’t have an overview that unifies your monitoring solutions. So you can’t see the relationships between the different alerts.

Level 1 is a lot like when you’re at home on your tablet streaming your favorite cooking show on Netflix and then it freezes up—right before they reveal which chef won. You can see something’s wrong on your tablet because the streaming has stopped. Netflix simply won't budge. There’s also a light flashing on your wireless router and another one on your modem. But you don’t know what’s actually causing the problem.

Level 2: In-Depth Monitoring on Different Levels

At Level 2, you have the ability to monitor on multiple levels and from multiple perspectives. You can see how the systems that your team uses are performing. Various applications can help you accomplish:

  • The analysis of log files

  • Application performance monitoring

  • Monitoring the states of different components as they pertain to specific services

While Level 2 provides more comprehensive monitoring than Level 1, it doesn’t account for the observation of failures across the entire IT stack. For example, you may only be able to see errors impacting your team’s area of the stack. But because many malfunctions can affect multiple teams, Level 2 may not provide the observability you need.

At Level 2, you can tell for a fact that it’s not your tablet that’s the problem. But it could be either the router or the modem. You can’t be sure.

Level 3: Next-Generation Monitoring

An organization that’s at Level 3 can see the events, metrics, and states for all of their individual components, as well as all their interdependencies and changes that impact the system. To get to Level 3, you need a full overview of your IT stack. Data you get from your various monitoring solutions is correlated and combined, providing you with a complete overview of all areas of your organization’s IT stack.

However, at Level 3, you may still end up chasing issues after they happen, locking the barn door after the horse has been stolen, so to speak, because you have no way of predicting future issues.

At Level 3, you know for a fact that the signal going to your modem was the problem because you have an app that shows you how each component is performing. Now, you can call your provider and have them fix it.

Level 4: Observability

At Level 4, you have full observability because not only are all your alerts and observability insights unified under one umbrella, but you integrate artificial intelligence for automated, proactive incident management. Further, machine learning is used to identify anomalous behavior that may indicate a future incident. All this results in early warning signals that, when acted on, can at least reduce the time it takes to remediate an event—if not eliminate it altogether.

Attaining Level 4 observability would be akin to having a mechanism positioned between the street and your modem that calculates the average signal strength and sends you an automatic alert when it looks a little weak. You can then switch to your phone’s hotspot—if you really want to know the winner.

Get to level 4 with StackState

Regardless of the level of observability your organization currently has, you’ll want to get to level 4. And that’s where we can help. Our relationship-based observability tool has helped many organizations – from large financial corporations to telecom providers with highly complex IT environments – to consolidate disparate pieces of information and help them better understand the big picture. Sounds interesting to you too? Book a free guided demo or get in touch with one of our experts today.