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Enterprise Data Management

Data Observability Tools and its Use Cases | Complete Guide

Chandan Gaur | 05 January 2023

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What is Data Observability?

It defines the health of data in the organization and mostly eliminates the data downtimes by appealing best practices of DevOps observability to data pipelines. It covers all the base-level monitoring fundamentals that help govern the data at the Top-level.
In other words, "To see and let the problem passing is not it, to understand the root causes and steps to fix defines it."

What is its background?

Data Engineering and DevOps teams try to visualize the problems by first selecting the metrics, then defining the role of a metric to monitor, and then going back to the implementation to follow up on the issues that occurred during monitoring or by the consumer of the applications, i.e., customer, client, software, to name a few.

Why do enterprises need Data Observability?

There are several reasons why an organization might want to use it:

  1. Improved reliability: By monitoring and analyzing data about the various components of a system, you can identify and resolve problems more quickly, which can improve the reliability of the system.
  2. Better performance: It can help you identify bottlenecks and other issues that may be impacting the performance of a system. By addressing these issues, you can improve the overall speed and efficiency of the system.
  3. Better decision making: By collecting and analyzing data about a system, you can gain a better understanding of how it is functioning and make more informed decisions about how to optimize or improve it.
  4. Enhanced security: By monitoring data and identifying unusual patterns or behavior, you can identify and mitigate security risks more effectively.
  5. Greater transparency: It can help you understand how a system is functioning and provide more transparency into its inner workings, which can be helpful for building trust with customers and stakeholders.

How does it impacts productivity?

It abolishes the need for debugging in a respective deployment environment by monitoring the performance of applications. It also helps identify the root causes of issues and helps in troubleshooting. Observability helps in enhancing the data and provides information fast.

What are the myths about Observability?

Observability and monitoring are two different concepts. They are often confused about the same thing. While observability is besotted by DevOps & IT Ops teams, monitoring is the NetOps team's backbone. Observability Platforms and monitoring tools have a lot in common, such as:

  1. Problems Detection: Alarms, monitoring charts

  2. Problem Resolution: FAQs

  3. Continuous Improvement: Reporting & documenting

What are the five pillars of Data Observability?

Pillars of data observability are mentioned below:

Freshness

Freshness attempts to determine how current your data tables are and the frequency with which they are updated. When it comes to making decisions, freshness is especially vital; after all, old data is practically associated with squandered time and money.

Distribution

The distribution of your data's possible values, in other words, informs you if your data is inside an acceptable range. Depending on your data, data distribution helps you assess whether or not your tables can be trusted.

Volume

The size of your data tables is a measure of their completeness and information on the health of your data sources. You should be aware if the number of rows drops from 200 million to 5 million.

Schema

Changes in the arrangement of your data or schema frequently indicate broken data. Tracking who updates these tables and when is crucial for understanding the health of your data environment.

Lineage

When data goes wrong, the first inquiry is always, "Where did it go wrong?" Data lineage tells you whose upstream sources and downstream consumers were affected, as well as which teams are producing the data and who is accessing it. Good lineage also gathers data-related information (known as metadata) that pertains to governance, business, and technical rules for specific data tables, acting as a single source of truth for all users.

What are its benefits?

Here are observability benefits by role:

Developers

  1. Stress to deploy the code or make any changes is reduced with Observability.

  2. Easy to roll back and fix the customer-affecting issues.

  3. Better Hypotheses to test and investigate

Teams

  1. The same information can be available as a Shared view.

  2. Real-Time metrics help teams in spending less time transferring information.

Businesses

  1. Easy to manage and deploy the code [faster release engineering]

  2. Cost-saving in terms of human resources spending less time to find and fix the errors

  3. More confident product releases make consumers happy with faster and more responsive systems.

Click to explore Adopt or not to Adopt Data Mesh? - A Crucial Question

How is Data Observability different from Data Monitoring?

A visual system helps understand and measure the architectural details to navigate from the happenings to the root cause. It also has the fix for complex microservice architecture. Monitoring is what and how you do after a system is observable. Without some level of observability, monitoring can't be done or is impossible.

Observability and monitoring enriched each other, with each one serving a different purpose. Monitoring tells you when something goes wrong, while observability enables you to understand why this happened. We can say monitoring is a subset of necessary action for observability. You can only monitor an observable system.

What are the steps for getting started with Data Observability?

Here are some steps you can take to get started with data observability:

  • Identify the systems and data sources you want to observe: Start by determining which systems and data sources you want to monitor and analyze. This may include IT systems, production systems, financial systems, and more.
  • Determine what data you want to collect: Next, identify the specific data points you want to collect and analyze. This may include performance metrics, error logs, user behavior data, and other types of data.
  • Implement monitoring and analysis tools: There are many tools available for monitoring and analyzing data, such as log analytics platforms, application tracing tools, and performance monitoring tools. Choose the tools that are most appropriate for your needs and set them up to collect and analyze the data you have identified.
  • Define metrics and KPIs: Determine the key performance indicators (KPIs) and metrics that are most important for understanding the performance and behavior of your systems. These may include metrics such as response time, error rates, throughput, and more.
  • Analyze and visualize the data: Once you have collected and stored the data, you can use visualization tools to analyze and understand it. This can help you identify trends, patterns, and issues that may not be immediately apparent from raw data.
  • Take action: Based on your analysis, you can take action to optimize or improve your systems. This may involve implementing new processes, making changes to the system architecture, or addressing specific issues that have been identified.

By following these steps, you can get started with data observability and begin to understand and optimize the performance of your systems.

What are some of the industry use case?

There are many industry use cases for data observability, including:

  • IT operations: Observability can help IT teams understand and resolve issues with IT systems more quickly, which can improve system reliability and performance.
  • Manufacturing: It can help manufacturers optimize production processes and identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies.
  • Healthcare: Observability can be used to monitor and improve the performance of healthcare systems, such as electronic health records or patient monitoring systems.
  • Finance: Financial organizations can use it to monitor and optimize trading systems, risk management systems, and other financial systems.
  • E-commerce: E-commerce companies can use observability to monitor and optimize the performance of their online stores and identify issues that may be impacting customer experience.
  • Telecommunications: Telecommunication companies can use observability to monitor and optimize the performance of their networks and identify issues that may be impacting service quality.

These are just a few examples of how data observability can be used in different industries. In general, it can be applied to any system where understanding and optimizing performance is important.

What are the future trends for Data Observability?

There are a number of trends that are shaping the future of data observability:

  • Increased adoption of cloud-based observability tools: As more organizations move to the cloud, there has been a trend towards the adoption of cloud-based observability tools. These tools can provide real-time data about the performance and behavior of cloud-based systems and are often easier to set up and manage than on-premises tools.
  • Greater integration with artificial intelligence and machine learning: Some observability tools are beginning to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to enable more advanced data analysis and anomaly detection. This can help organizations identify issues more quickly and optimize their systems more effectively.
  • Increased focus on security and privacy: As the importance of data security and privacy continues to grow, observability tools are increasingly focusing on these areas. This includes features such as data masking, which can help to protect sensitive data from being inadvertently exposed.
  • Greater emphasis on open source observability tools: There has been a trend towards the adoption of open source observability tools, which can be customized and extended more easily than proprietary tools. This can be especially appealing for organizations that need to monitor and analyze a wide variety of data sources.

Overall, the future of it looks bright, with a growing focus on cloud-based tools, the incorporation of AI and ML capabilities, and increased attention to security and privacy.

What are the best Data Observability Tools?

Top 5 tools are listed below:

  1. Amazon CloudWatch
  2. Elastic Observability
  3. Monte Carlo Data Observability Platform
  4. StackState
  5. Datadog Observability Platform

Conclusion

Thanks to DevOps, we can easily see the importance of observability as-applied data. By eliminating data downtime incidents as soon as they arise, we know what observability and monitoring are and how they complement each other.