Observability is a system property that defines the degree to which the system can generate actionable insights. It allows users to understand a system’s state from these external outputs and take (corrective) action.

Computer systems are measured by observing low-level signals such as CPU time, memory, disk space, and higher-level and business signals, including API response times, errors, transactions per second, etc. These observable systems are observed (or monitored) through specialized tools, so-called observability tools. A list of these tools can be viewed in the Cloud Native Landscape’s observability section.

Observable systems yield meaningful, actionable data to their operators, allowing them to achieve favorable outcomes (faster incident response, increased developer productivity) and less toil and downtime.

Consequently, how observable a system is will significantly impact its operating and development costs.