All Eyes on Observability

New Relic, ETR Release First-of-its-Kind Report on Observability

Daren Brabham PhD | ETR Research  

| September 16, 2022

This week New Relic, in partnership with ETR, released its 2022 Observability Forecast, a robust 80-page report on the state of observability (sometimes abbreviated o11y) and monitoring. More than 1,600 tech professionals from around the globe participated in the survey, representing 14 different countries, a variety of organization sizes, and in roles ranging from engineers to C-suite executives. In a first for this kind of study, too, New Relic made all raw data from the survey available for free online. What follows are some of the most interesting findings from the report.

Budgeting for Observability Will Increase

Currently, 69% of organizations allocate a relatively small amount of their IT budgets - 5-15% - to observability. But more than half (52%) of survey respondents anticipate their observability budgets will increase to some degree next year.

IT Teams Learn About Interruptions via Outdated Methods

Nearly half (46%) of survey respondents said they learn about outages from multiple tools in their environment, and just 21% use a single observability platform to detect outages. What is remarkable, however, is how many IT teams rely on relatively outdated methods for detecting outages. About a third (33%) said they learned about interruptions from either manual checks and tests performed at specific times or via internal or external incident or complaint tickets.

Full-Stack Observability Improves Outage Frequency and Time to Detect and Resolve Outages

In the survey, "full-stack observability" was defined as an organization having observability taking place across multiple places or zones in their tech stack. The diagram below illustrates the definition. If an organization had observability in one or more aspect of their front-end/customer experience/DEM practice, for instance, it "counted" as one piece of a full-stack observability program. Having some kind of observability underway in all four of these pieces of the stack - front-end/customer experience/DEM; services; logs; and back-end/environment - then it could be said the survey-taker had full-stack observability. Just 27% of respondents fit this definition of having full-stack observability.

Those with full-stack observability, however, saw notable improvements in all aspects of their observability and monitoring metrics. First, those with full-stack observability enjoyed less frequent outages in general. For instance, organizations with full-stack observability enjoyed low outage frequency (outages once a month or less) about twice as often as those without full-stack observability.

Regarding mean time to detection (MTTD), a common industry measure for outage performance, those with full-stack observability enjoyed ideal MTTD response times (of 5 minutes or less) 20% of the time for high-business-impact outages compared to those without full-stack observability, who only achieved the sub-5-minute MTTD mark on high-impact outages 14% of the time.

Finally, mean time to resolve (MTTR) outages - another common measure in the industry - were better for those with full-stack observability compared to those without it, though the margins were smaller (see below).

Read the Full Report

There is a ton of other intriguing findings about the state of observability in the full report, finally providing definitive empirical data that makes the case for observability's benefits. You can access the full report in PDF form and as a navigable website. The raw data can also be found here. New Relic has also published a handy infographic summarizing some of the key findings, as well as a blog post explaining the findings.

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