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Observability and Monitoring: Illuminating the Inner Workings of Large Systems

📆 · ⏳ 4 min read · · 👀


Hey there! Today, I’m excited to delve into the realm of observability and monitoring in large systems. Imagine you’re the captain of a magnificent ship embarking on a grand voyage. You need a clear view of everything happening on board to steer confidently and make sure the journey is smooth and successful.

That’s exactly what observability and monitoring do for large systems - they provide the captain’s vantage point, revealing the secrets within and guiding you to victory.

Peering into the Heart of Complexity

Building large systems is like constructing a marvelous puzzle, with numerous moving pieces and intricate connections. Without a clear view of what’s happening inside, identifying bottlenecks, potential failures, or even areas for improvement becomes daunting.

That’s where observability and monitoring swoop in to illuminate the darkness and reveal insights hidden from plain sight.

Observability - The Lighthouse of Visibility

Observability is like a powerful lighthouse, shining its light on every nook and cranny of your system. It enables you to access essential data points, logs, and metrics, providing a holistic view of your application’s performance and health.

With observability, you can follow the trail of breadcrumbs, from the tiniest event to the grandest operation.

For example a good practice when working with distributed systems is to use a trace ID in all of your incoming and outgoing requests. These trace IDs help you observe the entire lifecycle of a user flow to uncover issues more holistically.

Monitoring - Navigating the Treacherous Waters

Monitoring complements observability by setting up alerts and signals that act as your trusty compass. It keeps a watchful eye on crucial thresholds, allowing you to respond quickly when any storm arises.

Monitoring your large system ensures you can proactively address issues and steer the ship away from potential dangers.

Building Resilience - Preparing for the Unexpected

When sailing the vast ocean of large systems, storms can come without warning. Observability and monitoring play a vital role in building resilience.

By understanding how your system behaves under different conditions, you can weather the roughest seas with ease and ensure a seamless experience for your users.

Tools and Services for Better System Observability and Monitoring

  • Prometheus: An open-source monitoring solution that stores time series data and provides powerful query capabilities for analyzing that data.

  • Grafana: A popular open-source tool for data visualization and dashboarding. It can be used with a variety of data sources, including Prometheus.

  • Jaeger: An open-source distributed tracing system that can help diagnose issues in complex distributed systems.

  • Elasticsearch: A search and analytics engine that can be used for log management and metrics analysis.

  • Datadog: A cloud-based monitoring and analytics platform that can be used to monitor infrastructure, applications, and logs.

  • New Relic: A cloud-based observability platform that includes application performance monitoring, infrastructure monitoring, and log management.

  • Splunk: A popular log management and analysis tool that can be used to search, analyze, and visualize large volumes of data.

  • AWS CloudWatch: A monitoring and observability service provided by Amazon Web Services that can be used to monitor infrastructure, applications, and logs in the AWS ecosystem.

  • Azure Monitor: A monitoring and analytics service provided by Microsoft Azure that can be used to monitor infrastructure, applications, and logs in the Azure ecosystem.

  • Google Cloud Monitoring: A monitoring and observability service provided by Google Cloud Platform that can be used to monitor infrastructure, applications, and logs in the GCP ecosystem.

These are just a few examples of the many tools and services available for improving observability and monitoring. It’s important to carefully evaluate the needs of your system and choose the right tools to meet those needs.


Observability and monitoring are the guiding stars that lead you through the vast expanse of large systems. Their synergy empowers you with vital insights, enabling proactive decisions and a smooth journey towards your destination.

So, embrace the power of observability and monitoring, and let them be your allies in conquering the complexities and uncertainties of building large systems. Bon voyage!

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