New Relic’s 2022 Monitoring Forecast collected survey responses from more than 1,000 IT professionals. Organizations recognize the need for monitoring capability to support next-generation technologies. Peter Pezaris, Senior Vice President of Strategy and User Experience at New Relic, shares three strategies that can help IT leaders maximize the return on their observational investment.
The world is at a technological turning point. The combination of generational technological innovations such as 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, blockchain and Web3 has pushed both the tech industry and society at large to the edge of new realities and experiences. The ways in which we work, communicate, relax and innovate are changing.
These new technologies require unprecedented resources in terms of computing power and engineering talent. In order to keep pace with these technology needs, developers and engineers must be able to rely as much as possible on their tools while focusing on the creativity and vision involved in building new solutions. Observability is the ability to measure system performance and identify problems and errors based on its external output – telemetry data such as metrics, events, logs, and traces.
Observation is key to staying on top of rapidly evolving technology groups and maintaining reliable performance for even the most ambitious new technology. Achieving monitorability provides a real-time view of all data from different sources in one place, allowing teams to collaborate and solve problems more easily, ensuring more efficient operations, and producing high-quality software for optimal customer experience.
In the Watch predictions for 2022 From New Relic and ETR, more than 1,600 tech professionals from around the world have answered surveys regarding the current state of the observation and its potential implications for the future. Notably, these respondents highlighted the need for observability when discussing key technologies. From edge computing to cloud gaming to the Internet of Things, a large number of respondents acknowledged the importance of observability for each of these categories.
Three strategies for remarkable success
Not all observational approaches are created equal. Companies vying to build the next big thing in technology may find themselves outdone by competitors with more mature monitoring practices. To increase the return on investment in observability, companies must adjust their operations to align with established best practices. These three strategies can put organizations on a clear path to observational success.
1. Choose the right pricing structure
Even the best product in the world will not offer a good ROI if it is too expensive, and monitoring solutions vary widely in how they charge customers. To deliver good value, monitoring tools must offer transparent pricing and predictable spending. In particular, being able to scale automatically without penalty and pay-as-you-go for exactly what you use is essential for high-growth businesses.
Affordable pricing is a high priority for those who make noticeable investments. Monitoring forecasts for 2022 found that 35.6% of respondents ranked budget-friendly pricing as a top priority for the monitoring tool, and 30.7% of respondents cited the ability to use a single license scale. Engineering teams are willing to commit significant investments in observation — 69% of respondents dedicate between five and 15% of their total budget to observation — but they want to be able to incorporate predictable pricing into their broader spending.
Monitoring tools and platforms are primarily sold using one of two models: subscription-based pricing or consumption-based pricing. Although subscription-based pricing offers the advantage of both fixed and projected expenses, these models are less flexible when an organization needs to quickly increase or decrease the amount of telemetry data it ingests or monitors. Depreciation-based pricing allows organizations to respond to macroeconomic trends, turning in either direction with a pricing structure that always matches their needs.
2. Laying the groundwork for wide adoption
Imagine a hockey team decides to invest in new skates and sticks. However, when it comes time to start training and playing, they only give the latest equipment to a single player. If the organization does not take the time to distribute the best tools and train each team member on how to use them, the benefit of this investment will naturally be limited. But while this is evident in our hockey example, many organizations struggle to spread monitoring tools across organizations and implement them in their overall operations.
Monitoring forecasts for 2022 found that only 31.8% of respondents said that users have extensive access to telemetry data and visualizations. An organization that chooses to spend on telemetry and observability data but does not make these tools available to its employees will not get the most out of its investment. When planning a monitoring strategy, organizations should zoom out to consider the different ways this information can help the business. Monitoring platforms require money and dedicated staff to succeed, and forward-thinking organizations will allocate resources to the future state of their monitoring practices to facilitate rapid expansion. Above all, organizations must take the time to train their employees on how to use monitoring tools, and democratize access to this essential information effectively.
3. Build in a room of opportunities
There is no perfect case for observation. While some organizations may have achieved a mature practice of observation, there will always be more opportunities to expand data collection or improve insights through the application of new observational practices. Organizations can maximize ROI from their spending on observation by adopting approaches such as automated incident response workflows, incident learning practices, and observational service level objectives. These strategies increase overall efficiency while simultaneously freeing engineers to focus on higher-level tasks.
The practice of mature observation will also always look for new automation opportunities, particularly in relation to incident response. Survey participants highlighted DevOps practices and automated incident response workflows for their benefits in reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR). According to Monitoring Outlook, 39% of respondents advocated DevOps best practices as a solution to reduce MTTR, while 38% mentioned automated incident response workflows.
For organizations just beginning to make investments in observational potential—and even for those seeking to develop a more mature practice—there is a path forward that can lead to greater ROI. By choosing affordable and transparent observation tools, preparing diligently for their deployment across the enterprise, and regularly finding new applications of telemetry data, today’s engineering leaders can dramatically increase their return on investment on their spending on observation and process improvement in the process.