Observability and the Development Process

Historically, monitoring has been thought of as an afterthought of the software development cycle: something owned by the ops side of the room. But instead of trying to predict the various ways something might go sideways right before release and crafting dashboards to prepare, what might it look like to use answers about our system to figure out what to build, and how to build it, and whom for?

Observability is the practice of understanding the internal state of a system via knowledge of its external outputs -- and is something that should be built into the process of crafting software from the very beginning.

In this talk, we'll discuss what this might look like in practice by using Honeycomb as a case study: how we rely on visibility into our system to inform planning during the development process, to observe the impact of new changes during and after release, and, of course, debug. We'll start by describing the problems faced by a SaaS platform like ours, then run through some specific instrumentation practices that we love and have used successfully to gain the visibility we need into our system’s day-to-day operations.