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What have we learned about observability this year? The 2021 Observability Forecast found that 90% of respondents believe observability is important and strategic to their business, but only 26% said their observability practice was mature. If you want to improve your observability practice and the software you create, use these top 5 insights from the past year.

Here are the top learnings from New Relic engineers in 2021. 

Network monitoring is more important than ever

Integrating network monitoring with telemetry data from application layers and user experience has become more important than ever, says Nočnica Fee, Senior Developer Advocate. “Some of the major security breaches and service failures of this last year were detected by network monitoring, and we can expect to see its significance expand.”

You can eliminate network blind spots by analyzing network data alongside your other observability data for a holistic understanding of your system performance. Learn more at Network performance monitoring is now available in New Relic One and A quickstart to long-lasting security with network intelligence and Gigamon.

Security anomalies can be visualized

Following along with the theme of security concerns, Lauren Lee, Senior Developer Relations Engineer, says, “I’ve learned that observability is not just about performance metrics but can encompass a wide range of insights into your applications, including security.”

She wrote about her journey into uncovering security anomalies in cloud applications and using the data to improve security in How to visualize cloud security data in Lacework.

And if you need to scan for systems with Log4j vulnerabilities, check out How to help identify systems with vulnerable log4j versions using New Relic.

You shouldn’t have to leave your IDE for observability

“Anything that requires developers to leave their IDEs—including observability solutions—is counterproductive,” says Pachi Parra, Developer Relations Engineer. “Extending observability and code discussion to your IDE improves your collaboration, productivity, and the quality of the code you write. Even when some teams return to working in the same geographic locations after the pandemic, remote collaboration is vital to success.”

You can level up your developer workflow with CodeStream, an extension for your favorite code editor. Learn more here: 9 ways to improve your workflow with CodeStream.

OpenTelemetry can help folks who are new to observability

Daniel Kim, Senior Developer Advocate, originally thought OpenTelemetry would be intimidating, but he discovered how helpful it is for people who are new to observability. “It wasn't until I began instrumenting my own apps using the OpenTelemetry documentation that I realized how easy it was to get started,” he wrote in Intro to OpenTelemetry for Node.js Apps. “Instrumenting your app with OpenTelemetry makes it easy to figure out what is going wrong when parts of your application are slow, broken, or both.”

He collaborated on a freeCodeCamp.org beginner-friendly resource for instrumenting apps with OpenTelemetry. “With the collector, you can forward your data anywhere. You can choose to spin up an open source backend, use a proprietary backend like New Relic One, or just roll your own backend.”

Observability is an important part of a FinOps practice

Wendy Shepperd, General Manager and GVP of Product and Engineering, Telemetry Data Platform, has highlighted the importance of cloud financial operations, or FinOps, which needs insights from observability for understanding usage and capacity.

Advice that she gave to teams transitioning to the cloud this past year: "Establish a FinOps team early on to focus on cloud cost optimization. Tag your cloud assets upfront and define clear governance and processes for capacity management and leverage autoscaling where possible."

Software developers haven't typically needed to worry about the costs of running their services, but that's changing. "Our engineers are making decisions about costs on a daily basis," she said in Transitioning to the cloud: New Relic's journey to AWS. "They're analyzing things like 'What's the cost of my service? How can I implement auto-scaling? How can I reduce resource usage? Where am I not as efficient as I could be in capacity management?'"