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Observability-Driven Development and its Benefits | Complete Guide

Navdeep Singh Gill | 06 Jan 2023

Observability-Driven Development

Introduction to Observability-Driven Development

Observability-driven development (ODD) is a method for moving left observability to the very beginning of the software development life cycle.

Observability-driven development lets a particular person know what is happening with the operations or software activities, whether a developer, site reliability engineer or product manager. It made its place in the world of complexity to ask what the software is doing and get the answer of what is happening, not just letting know about the downtimes or breakdowns but also the reason behind the delays and disruptions. With the growing technologies and influx of technological advancements, it has proven to provide accurate information across thousands of containers and pods about misbehavior.

In short, how much you can understand the internal software question just by observing the outside software environment is it. Let’s see what Observability Driven Development Development is.

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What is Observability Driven Development (ODD)?

While writing code for software, having the hypothesis of using the production data to inform what, when, and how a developer develops feature flags and release system functionality.

Observability Driven Development is for more than just developers or software engineers. It also lets the managers know whether the product they push is working as it is intended to work and what to do if there is a need for improvements. The objective could be enabling a better feedback loop and ensuring the software ownership to provide a better experience to the customers and developers.

Why is Monitoring phasing out?

Monitoring was introduced about 20 years ago and is still the same. Industry leaders think monitoring will gradually become obsolete, not because it is too old to keep up but because of the rapid development approaches introduced in these years.

The main reason for adopting it is to face the complexity of the issues and systems and figure out the best possible solution to solve the problem.
Monitoring still holds capabilities, and some of the best practices are:-

  1. Active checks and alerts
  2. Proactive detection of failures and risks
  3. Stability and Predictability in the production system

But with implementing more complex microservices, the probability of unknown-unknowns increases. Monitoring is only able to detect the known unknowns, the predictable of the software development process or activities.

So, what about the unknown-unknowns? These are the most challenging factors that it can resolve, and the devs should spend most of their time on this.

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Why is Observability-Driven Development important?

If simplifying the concept, It is leveraging the tools and practices of the developers to observe the state and detect the behavior of the systems to learn about the patterns, strengths, and weaknesses in detail.

Industry Leaders like the CEO of Honeycomb, Charity Majors, say that Test Driven Development - writing the tests and building a code to run perfectly on the test, will convert into Observability Driven Development.

Although both are part of behavior-driven development, ODD promises more on the behavior side. It doesn’t replace monitoring. Both can still hold processes to make a reliable and streamlined system out of a vulnerability and risk-prone system.

Monitoring is still considered suitable for on-premises checks, but observability stands in this world with more implementation for complex systems.

Top 3 Pillars of Observability

It stands on three pillars, contributing to the success and efficiency of software development and risk detection practices for streamlined application and deployment of applications and software. Metrics, Logs, and Traces are the data inputs known as the golden triangle of it.


Metrics select critical KPIs for any system, such as peak load, memory usage, response time, stack complexity, change rates, etc., and advance with the identification and alerting of the:-

  • Monitor significant increase in disk usage
  • Operational cost
  • Performance


Majorly, the answer to the questions about breakdowns, disruptions, and reasons for the misbehavior of the systems are stored in logs. These are some immutable timestamps to keep track of activities. Logs are critical in assessing the conditions and auditing and understanding the factor of failure or delay.

Even though logs provide accurate information on incidents and events in the Software development and monitoring processes, their sheer number is challenging to deal with.

Logs are essential because there can be multiple reasons for failure in complex systems, and pinpointing the exact issue to detect the trigger can be easily accomplished.


Traces are often seen as similar to logs, but Traces help locate the source of the issues. It provides visibility into the issues and the path they traversed with.

Traces expose the code path and uncover the bottlenecks and vulnerabilities. It returns the set of logs where the issues have occurred.

Traces are subjectively the most difficult to retrofit into existing infrastructure because implementing a tracing in an intended way needs to maintain and modified according to the systems.

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Implementing Observability-Driven Development

  • Talking ownership of observability with a team while implementing a streamlined approach and designing an observability approach.
  • Defining documents, insights, and use cases and prioritizing data from metrics, logs, and traces.
  • Centralize and co-relate the data for all the teams to ensure interoperability with different types of collected data.
  • Building and defining an observability pipeline and creating its platform to enable all the processes to maintain sync.
  • Selecting the tools and routing the process.
  • Cultivating and educating the team with an observability culture and ensuring efficiency and productivity with informed actions.

Why adopt Observability-Driven Development?

It helps the software development process implement a smooth set of actions and enables the developers or software engineers to connect with the world and resolve challenges effectively and efficiently. So, Let’s discuss some benefits:

Aligning Developers with Users

Ensuring Data Visibility and collaboration between the teams. Also, Monitoring the architecture to identify the root cause of the problem and help the developers resolve the problem quickly and easily.


They provide complete visibility into the IT infrastructure, proactively alerting about the issue as soon as they arrive and reducing the risk of non-compliance.

Avoiding downtime and disruptions

As per a report - “Industry leaders believe that Observability cut cost of downtime by more than 90%.”

It is a compelling review for observability as it enables not only the value of it for organizations but also helps them determine the next step in its implementation journey.

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Observability Driven Development often symbolizes questions and answers regarding the processes of software development and deployment approaches. It lets the developers, Site reliability engineers, or product managers review the whole process and simplify the complexity of the process to gain insight to make decisions for improvements.