Unified Observability: The Role of Metrics, Logs, and Traces

November 23, 2022 Colleen Marinelli

There is significant momentum around observability, as detailed in VMware’s 2022 State of Observability report, with almost all respondents stating that observability would benefit their organization. This is further validated by Gartner including observability in their Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring and Observability report for the first time this year.

With observability, IT teams get a complete picture of their  application and infrastructure health by unifying the data from metrics, logs, and traces, hence the term unified observability. But don’t mistake unified observability for just another market term. In reality, it’s a solution that is crucial as organizations modernize to cloud native environments. By analyzing metrics, logs, and traces, you are getting comprehensive visibility, which leads to better business insights, allowing organizations to troubleshoot and innovate faster.

Why are these three pillars the most important?

When talking about unified observability, it is in the context of metrics, logs, and traces, but why are these so important? Let’s explore.

  • Metrics provide real-time insight into the health and performance of applications or infrastructure. With observability into metrics, you will see the greater context of system health and be able to proactively identify performance issues.
  • Traces provide insight into the flow of the application. With observability into traces, you can see the source of the problem and identify the root cause, even in distributed systems like microservices and containers.
  •  Logs provide insight into all events and errors within a software environment. With observability into logs, you can see when the problem occurred and which events correlate with it.

Alone, each pillar provides valuable information, but not the full picture. By having insight into all three, you get complete visibility of your IT health as it relates to performance and availability. This is significant as environments are growing in complexity, with cloud deployments and Kubernetes deployments have copious amounts of events to manage, sometimes in the millions of points per second. Troubleshooting and finding the root cause becomes like finding a needle in a haystack, which can become even more complex when you factor in microservices and containers.

Unfortunately, many organizations don’t have a choice in selections and are forced to use disparate tools in an attempt to find something close to a unified observability solution. This is resulting in product sprawl and siloed, disconnected teams with no real visibility or effective troubleshooting. Using multiple tools to collect data of metrics, logs, and traces, creates gaps in identifying problems before they occur or a system crash which results in a war room to shift through multiple environments and nodes to find the issue. These issues can be resolved through a true unified observability solution.

Unified view of metrics, logs, and traces

With unified observability of metrics, logs, and traces, organizations get a deep understanding of the applications and infrastructure. The connectivity of this data not only benefits IT, it also benefits the business to make better decisions with more actionable insights.

At VMware Explore 2022 in San Francisco, we announced Unified Observability Platform by VMware Aria Operations for Applications, which brings together metrics, logs, and traces in one solution with unified observability. With the inclusion of logs in the solution, this completes the critical components of a unified observability solution, supplying in-depth information and comprehensive records of all events and errors during the software lifecycle to make troubleshooting faster.

This provides a compelling ROI for organizations, eliminating the need for other tools, especially log management tools, which can be expensive and have a hard time managing the large volumes of data generated by Kubernetes and cloud applications. Aria Operations for Applications has unmatched scalability, in the millions of points per second, and provides teams with a single source of truth. This unified view makes log analysis faster and more relevant in the context of metrics and trace data, providing site reliability engineers (SREs), operations, and developers with the insight they need across their teams to troubleshoot and mitigate production issues, which removes silos, exhausting war rooms, and alert storms.

For complex environments, especially ones that need to be always on, metrics, logs and traces help organizations stay on top of these dynamic environments. You get insight into distributed systems and, with that insight, faster resolution to problems by identifying the root cause of the issue. If you are using Kubernetes, cloud native applications, microservices, and containers, without observability you will not be able to efficiently gain insight into how services are performing, which could impact customer experience and your bottom line.

Aria Operations for Applications provides a modern approach to monitoring with unified observability. To learn more about VMware’s unified observability platform view our on-demand webinar: Unified Observability with Log; or read our Unified Observability for Modern Applications white paper.

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About the Author

Colleen Marinelli

Colleen Marinelli is a senior product marketing manager for Tanzu Observability at VMware.

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