Second annual Observability Forecast — the only study of its kind to open-source its raw data — reveals current and future trends surrounding adoption, implementation, and maturity of observability approaches
New Relic (NYSE: NEWR), the observability company, published the 2022 Observability Forecast report, which captures insights into the current state of observability and its growth potential. As IT and application environments increasingly move toward complex, cloud-based microservices, the research found technology professionals have bold plans to ramp up observability capabilities to get ahead of issues that could impact customer experience and application security. Nearly three-quarters of respondents surveyed in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said C-suite executives in their organisations are advocates of observability, and more than three-quarters (83%) saw observability as a key enabler for achieving core business goals, which implies that observability has become a board-level imperative.
The largest study of its kind, the second annual Observability Forecast from New Relic and technology market research firm ETR had 1,614 respondents globally, including 65% practitioners — day-to-day users of observability tools — and 35% IT decision-makers across 14 countries to understand their current use of observability tools and approaches, as well as their perspectives on the future of observability. The report reveals the technologies they believed will drive further need for observability and the benefits of adopting an observability practice. The report also highlights that respondents surveyed across ASEAN have used observability primarily to support digital transformation initiatives and improve the digital customer experience. Across ASEAN, 43% said they apply observability to support digital transformation efforts to improve and gain a competitive advantage from the digital customer experience.
According to the research, ASEAN organisations today monitor their technology stacks with a patchwork of tools. At the same time, respondents surveyed in ASEAN indicated they longed for simplicity, integration, seamlessness, and more efficient ways to complete high-value projects. Moreover, as ASEAN organisations race to embrace technologies like blockchain, edge computing, and 5G to deliver optimal customer experiences, observability supports more manageable deployment to help drive innovation, uptime, and reliability. The 2022 Observability Forecast found:
- Only 35% had achieved full-stack observability by the report’s definition (the ability to see everything in the tech stack that could affect the customer experience). Just 7% had a mature observability practice by the report’s definition.
- Over a third (39%) said they still primarily detect outages manually or from complaints, and most (83%) used four or more tools to monitor the health of their systems.
- Almost half (46%) said they experience high-business-impact outages once per week or more, and 39% said they take more than an hour to resolve those outages.
- Just 3% said their telemetry data is entirely unified (in one place), and only 17% said the visualisation or dashboarding of that data is entirely unified.
- More than half (59%) said they prefer a single, consolidated observability platform.
- Respondents surveyed in ASEAN predicted their organisations will most need observability for the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and 5G in the next three years.
“Asia-Pacific is home to a melting pot of different cultures and observability maturity levels. Despite many differences, findings in the 2022 Observability Forecast are echoing what we are hearing from best-of-breed businesses in the field: that shifting left by embedding observability into all parts of the software lifecycle is a key contributor to engineering success,” said Peter Marelas, Chief Architect APJ, New Relic.
Achieving Full-Stack Observability
Among the report’s key takeaways, the data supports a strong correlation between achieving or prioritising full-stack observability and experiencing fewer outages, improved outage detection rates, and improved resolution. For example, 25% of respondents surveyed in ASEAN who indicated that they had already prioritised/achieved full-stack observability were also less likely to experience the most frequent high-business-impact outages (once per week or more), compared with the 46% who had not. In addition, 75% who said they had already prioritised/achieved full-stack observability also said it takes less than 30 minutes to detect high-business-impact outages, compared with the 34% who had not.
The research implies that the ideal state of observability is one where engineering teams monitor the entire tech stack in all stages of the software development lifecycle, employ mature observability practice characteristics, and have unified telemetry data and a unified dashboard or visualisation of that data — ideally in a single, consolidated platform. More than half of respondents surveyed in ASEAN said they prefer a single, consolidated observability platform, yet only 2% used one tool for observability.
They said some of the main challenges preventing them from prioritising/achieving full-stack observability are a lack of strategy and understanding of the benefits, too many monitoring tools, and un-instrumented systems.
Benefits of Observability
According to the 2022 Observability Forecast, developers and engineers seek solutions that will make their lives better and easier. When New Relic and ETR asked practitioners surveyed in ASEAN themselves how observability helps developers and engineers the most, they found:
- Over half (51%) believed observability increases their productivity and enables them to find and resolve issues faster.
- Nearly half (41%) felt that it enables less guesswork when managing complicated and distributed tech stacks.
- About four in ten (39%) said observability enables cross-team collaboration, and 28% said it improves their skillset or hireability.
Ambitious Deployment Plans
When asked about the top trends driving observability needs at their organisations, respondents surveyed in ASEAN said risk mitigation, cloud-native application architectures, customer experience, and migration to multi-cloud were among the highest drivers. Challenges aside, they saw observability’s bottom-line benefits and expected to deploy additional observability capabilities — including AIOps, alerts, and serverless monitoring — in the next three years (the report focuses on 17 capabilities in all).
- Just 9% indicated that their organisations have all 17 observability capabilities deployed.
- By 2025, the majority expected to deploy capabilities like synthetic monitoring, MLOps, APM, and Kubernetes monitoring, with the majority indicating they would have 90–99% of the 17 observability capabilities deployed. This finding suggests that most ASEAN organisations will have robust observability practices in place by 2025.
“Observability by its very nature must look at the full stack of data available. Looking at a single layer provides only a silo view. To deliver the digital experience necessary to remain competitive, enterprises must go beyond infrastructure and make their digital business observable,” Gartner®, Innovation Insight for Observability, By Padraig Byrne and Josh Chessman, Refreshed 9 March 2022.*
As they pursue aggressive observability capability deployment plans, 66% of respondents surveyed in ASEAN expected to maintain or increase their observability budgets next year. Almost four in 10 (39%), including 46% of C-suite executives, expected observability budgets to increase over the next year. This includes 10% of all respondents and 19% of C-suite executives surveyed in ASEAN who expected to increase budgets significantly — and the market opportunity is sizable.
Looking ahead, respondents surveyed in ASEAN foresaw their organisations needing observability for a variety of trending technologies, including AI, 5G, and Web3. ASEAN C-suite executives anticipated needing observability most for IoT (75%), 5G (61%), AI (46%), and business applications (43%) in the next three years.