An Introduction To O11y - ObservabilityBlog

What is observability and how do you get started? In this blog, post we introduce some basic concepts and benefits of observability.


BY Nicolas Spillemaeckers / ON Feb 09, 2023

What is O11y

O11y is an abbreviation of observability. If we take out the 11 letters between the O and the Y of observability, we get O11y. It is similar to Kubernetes and K8s.


O11y is also a company specializing in open source observability services, and it is pronounced as OLLY.

Why Do You Need Observability

Application environments are increasing in scale and complexity and your logs, metrics, and traces are coming from many different databases and back-ends.

Observability gives you insights into the state of your services and maps all the different components communicating with each other.

You learn more about your application and the code that achieves your business targets. Logs, metrics, and traces are displayed over time, and with mathematical patterns, you learn how to improve your the services you offer to your customers.

Application observability enables you to understand why your service is slow or broken and learn what needs to be done to improve performance

Observability doesn’t stop with the state of your application but can also give you insights into your business targets. Based upon your KPI’s, metrics are collected and displayed on an easy to read dashboard.

Observability vs Monitoring

Before diving into what observability is, you must know how it differs from monitoring. Monitoring means running active checks on a set of services and technical components to check their health. Monitoring gives you answers to questions you known upfront. The questions generally asked by the monitoring are:

  • Is the service available and used by customers?

  • Is the service providing correct answers (and not errors)?

  • Is the service providing answering fast?

  • Is the service able to process its backlog in time?

Once you have the answers, the next question is “why” do you have those answers. But those questions are not predictable upfront. Observability is the ability to answer those questions, which are not known upfront, without adding new code.

In an observable stack, you can see the world as your application sees it. You can understand where it spends its time and how it interacts with the other components.

Observability empowers you to understand the relationship between your services and provides you insights about how they interact with each other.

Three Factors to successful observability

1. Culture

Culture plays a tremendous role because observability brings you those cross-components views.

It fits very well in a DevOps world of developers being involved in the deployments and the maintenance of the applications.

Similarly, Operations teams will more likely understand observability data better and react more appropriately.

2. Observe all environments

Observability hits all environments (development, acceptance, and production). When observing all environments, you can see problems before they hit the production environment.

Moreover, it is easier to reproduce issues outside of production and to understand how it behaves.

3. Tooling

Developers don’t want to code specifically to add observability into an application. They are willing to do a small part given the benefits they would get but will not spend 50% of their time in observability development.

Therefore, when choosing a stack or libraries, it matters to pick the ones that are easily observables.

The benefits of observability?

First of all you can discover and pinpoint issues you don’t know exist. Observability enables you to better pinpoint root causes of your incidents and therefore resolve them faster.

Secondly, you will learn about issues early in the development phase. Monitoring in the early phases of the software development process lets you fix them before they impact your customer.

Lastly, you will have better insight in your services. Observability empowers you to understand the relationship between your services and provides you insights about how they interact with each other.

How to make services observable?

To make your services “observable” you will have to collect metrics, distributed traces, and logs, better known as the three pillars of observability.

Observability Pillars

  • Metrics will tell you about performances and checks. It represents most of the monitoring parts.

  • Logs are per-application events that show you error messages and carry the voice of your applications.

  • Traces are small pieces of transactions that you can group around unique business transactions. A trace is placed into multiple microservices and can be split into various pieces in the same microservice.

How to start with observability


In a first phase it is essential to assess your monitoring principles and toolings. How do people think about monitoring, and how are the tools used?

An assessment by an observability expert can help you understand your current state and create a roadmap for you to develop your observability maturity.

We understand that every service is unique, and it is essential to uncover the fundamental problem. During a workshop, we discuss your goals and introduce modern observability principles to achieve your goals.

Design And Build

When you have relevant insights into your current observability state, it is time to get to the drawing table.

Based on the assessment, you can map out an architecture and build a custom observability platform.

O11y uses a proven ecosystem, and with experience in DevOps, we know how to run these tools, whether it’s on a cloud provider, on-premise, or on our infrastructure.


Right out of the box, these open source technologies can collect much valuable information. However, to become truly observable, the back-end systems must be modified, and development teams must be coached to get all the metrics you need.

Making your applications observable is a continuous process that will have to be observed and improved along the way.

O11y, Your One Stop Observability Shop

Do you want to improve the performance of your systems and learn why an application is slow or broken? We guide organizations across the globe in every observability journey.

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