What is Observability?

Profielfoto O.Schouws
Olaf Schouws
5 min read

Observability is the ability of the internal states of a system to be inferred from external outputs. Without it, your team’s productivity could be greatly diminished. That’s because you may be using too many monitoring tools to get the job done, leaving you with siloed insights that are hard to make sense of.

For example, without observability, it will be difficult to understand if an online banking application has a risk of going offline because of a change made deep in the stack to a database configuration or other change.

Let’s take a deeper dive into observability and how it benefits your IT team.

Observability vs. Monitoring: What’s the Difference? 

They may seem similar on the surface, but there are some key differences when it comes to observability vs. monitoring. Ultimately, observability measures your understanding of the system’s internal states from external outputs. Monitoring is the process that comes after the system is observable. 

Other differences include: 

  • Observability asks questions from the outside, which helps you better understand your internal production system.        

  • Typically, monitoring tracks metric values from previous known issues. Each time a new issue arises, a new monitor is added. The result? An overload of alerts that tend to go ignored. 

  • Monitoring repeats the same questions, making it useful for known issues. Observability asks different questions each time. 

Importance of Observability 

With the majority of people using distributed systems in today’s climate, there’s a greater need for an observability strategy. That’s because there are various parts interacting in these systems, which increases the potential number of failures. 

Organizations with complex infrastructures need product observability because they must: 

Address Problems Before They Escalate Into Full-Blown Catastrophes

At some point, applications fail. This is not a matter of if but when. When your software system fails, does your IT team have the capabilities needed to fix it? Observability helps your IT team troubleshoot during production by enabling you to take an in-depth look into the areas that are causing problems before they impact customer or user experience. 

Ensure System Reliability Through Observability 

An observability platform lets you build an IT system that functions in line with the needs of your employees and customers. Observability infrastructure identifies exactly where your system lacks reliability. 

Tools for Implementing Observability 

Observability software integrates with monitoring tools and data sources that enable your team to collaborate and resolve incidents. An effective observability platform includes the following:


Metrics are numerical representations of information measured over time and derived from the system's performance. Metrics include information about the amount of processing power being used and other application service level indicators (SLIs). 


Logs are records of events that happened in the system. They are time-stamped, computer-generated, and written into unmodifiable files. The result is a full and accurate record of all events and the system state during the event occurrence. 


Traces are records of a network’s events. They can be presented in a list of logs from various systems involved in the request. 


Artificial intelligence-powered alerts ensure efficient collaboration so IT teams can quickly resolve incidents. Actionable alerts increase first-touch resolutions and mitigate the need for costly escalations. 

Optimizing Observability with StackState 

StackState’s full-stack observability platform helps IT teams prevent and solve incidents quickly. Uniquely, StackState breaks down the silos between existing monitoring solutions and tracks any change to the stack, relating these changes to issues with performance and reliability of the system. 

Your IT team can use StackState’s solutions to improve your incident management process without disruption. The result? A 60% decrease in the time it takes to address incidents, a 65% decrease in the number of incidents per month, and a 30% reduction in incident costs. 

Interested in seeing more? Book a free guided demo to experience StackState for yourself and start saving your IT team time and money.