For many of us in the software development world, observability tools are a must-have for effectively debugging applications and infrastructure. And doing the job right means selecting the right observability tool. Some might look for a fully featured enterprise solution, while others may simply search for the best open-source solution. But regardless of your approach, you have a number of considerations when selecting the right observability tool.
In this post, we’ll explore 8 of the best observability tools on the market today, including 2 open-source options. Then, we’ll provide details on how to pick which one is right for you. We’ll look at what makes each tool unique, what prerequisites are needed to use it, and whether it’s suited to large or small organizations. Then you can choose the best observability tool that meets your requirements.
What Are Observability Tools?
An essential component of your technology stack, observability tools improve troubleshooting by providing insights into system performance. Observability tools monitor the state of systems, track and measure component performance, detect issues and identify patterns for improved root cause analysis.
By combining metrics, logs and traces in a unified platform, observability tools help you quickly diagnose and resolve problems. Plus, most observability tools offer advanced visualization capabilities and alerting systems. So you can configure a monitoring system that’s tailored to the needs of your company no matter if it’s a small start-up or enterprise organization.
With so many observability tools on the market, we’ve compiled a list of top solutions to help you find the best fit for you.
Types of Observability Tools
When selecting an observability tool, it’s important to understand the different tools that are available. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you’ll want to pick the one that best suits your organization’s needs.
Here are some of the most common types of observability tools:
Log Management Tools
Log management solutions are ideal for collecting and storing log data for later analysis. Some solutions also enable users to review logs in real time and set alerts when anomalies appear. Log management solutions are well suited for larger organizations with a larger volume of data, as they enable users to collect and store data quickly and efficiently.
APM (Application Performance Management) Tools
APM solutions are focused on monitoring applications and identifying any performance issues or bottlenecks that could impact the user experience. These solutions provide metrics on production application performance, enabling users to detect issues quickly and pinpoint their source of origin. APM solutions are a great fit for every organization that relies on applications serving internal and external customers.
One popular example of an open-source monitoring tool is Prometheus, which is designed to monitor containerized services in real time through metrics collection and alerting. Prometheus is free to use and suitable for small teams who require a simple yet powerful solution for observation.
The 8 Best Observability Tools
Whether you’re a large enterprise or a small start-up, it’s important to choose the right observability tools for your organization. Here are some of the best tools on the market and what makes them different:
The Netreo full-stack monitoring and observability suite includes IT infrastructure monitoring, application performance monitoring and code profiling capabilities. Netreo provides end-to-end visibility into IT infrastructure, including network devices, servers and applications in cloud, on-premises and hybrid environments. Retrace delivers real-time application performance monitoring and log management as a stand-alone tool or integrated into the Netreo ITIM solution. Prefix is a code profiling tool that enables developers to optimize application performance by identifying and resolving performance bottlenecks. Currently, Netreo is integrating OpenTelemetry into their suite, starting with a preview version of OTel Prefix.
Prometheus is an open-source tool that is particularly suited for real-time monitoring and alerting on application performance metrics in the cloud. In fact, Prometheus is quite literally the de facto open-source standard for gathering metrics and generating basic alerts in Kubernetes. The only caveat is that you need some basic knowledge of coding to get started with Prometheus. The toolkit is popular in DevOps teams due to its flexibility, and suited for smaller organizations because there are no licensing costs.
AppOtics is a great cloud service for organizations of all sizes, offering real-time performance insights into applications and services. The tool helps users quickly spot and fix issues with built-in anomaly detection and automatic tracing across app environments.
4. Splunk Insights
This is a powerful monitoring tool that allows you to aggregate data from multiple sources (such as logs, applications and systems) into a single dashboard view. Customizable dashboard options enable users to tailor data views to their personal needs. Splunk Insights is great for larger organizations looking for complete visibility into their IT environment across multiple systems or services at once.
Grafana is a great option because it makes data easier to digest and understand. This is an open-source observability tool made specifically for metrics visualization. It’s often used alongside Prometheus to create more compelling dashboards, but is more commonly used with database sources like Graphite and InfluxDB.
AppDynamics is an enterprise solution designed specifically for businesses looking to gain deeper visibility into their applications’ performance in real time. It provides valuable insights into application health, response times and error reports, plus many more features. This tool is a great choice for larger organizations with complex architectures looking to monitor their services.
An AI-powered observability platform, Dynatrace provides real-time insights into application performance and infrastructure health. It uses AI and machine learning algorithms to automatically detect and diagnose issues, reducing the time to resolution. Dynatrace offers a suite of features, including APM, infrastructure monitoring and log analytics.
Datadog is a cloud service that enables you to monitor your application performance metrics from multiple sources, including servers, databases, applications, networks, etc. It scales nicely, making it fit for large enterprises that have complex IT environments with hundreds of services running simultaneously.
Factors to Consider Before Choosing an Observability Tool
Here are some important factors you should consider when evaluating observability tools.
- Cost: Often the biggest barrier for smaller companies, finding an open-source tool is essential when cost is a concern. Several great open-source tools are available, such as Prometheus and Grafana. They may be the perfect solution for small teams on a budget.
- Scalability: If your organization handles large numbers of requests or requires monitoring on a large scale, make sure that the tool you choose can handle it. Some tools are better suited to small environments, while others are designed for large ones.
- User Interface: Always consider the user experience when making your decision, as the UI is an important factor for team collaboration and decision-making. Feature rich and user friendly means different things to different people, so make sure UI features map to your team’s experience and organizational needs. If your team isn’t familiar with the UI of a particular tool, consider a demo or trial.
- Analytics: It’s important to ensure that the observability tool you choose can provide insights into your application performance. That way, you can easily identify areas for improvement and quickly rectify any issues before they become major problems.
- Platform Development Support: Make sure that the observability tool you choose has support for multiple platform development options (e.g., Java EE). Otherwise, you’ll have limited visibility into those components of your system.
Finally, do some research and read reviews from other users who have experience with different tools before settling on one!
Whether you’re looking for open-source or commercial options, the right tool can mean the difference between success and failure. By researching the different tools available, you can select the best one for your needs. Consider the cost, the technical prerequisites and which organization it is best suited for. Ultimately, the tool that works best for your organization is the one that provides the most value and insights.
Check out Netreo to learn about our full-stack monitoring solutions.
Netreo and Stackify approach observability from a practical standpoint. Both offer tools that enable true observability by providing deep insight into the performance and behavior of complex systems, applications, and networks.
Netreo takes a comprehensive approach to infrastructure monitoring and observability. They offer a wide range of tools that enable users to monitor everything from network traffic and device performance to cloud infrastructure and application health.
Stackify, on the other hand, focuses on application performance monitoring (APM), providing a suite of tools that enable developers to identify and diagnose application performance issues quickly and easily.
This post was written by Jethro Magaji. Jethro is a frontend engineer who’s passionate about the tech world and uses creative thinking to solve business problems with a user-centered approach.