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As infrastructure and application environments grow in complexity, IT decision-makers (ITDM) have bold plans to ramp up observability capabilities to break down the silos that slow engineers down, interfere with customer experience, and impact their businesses.

Earlier this year, we commissioned Enterprise Technology Research (ETR) to conduct the largest-ever study on the state of observability and its growth potential. In partnership with ETR, we surveyed 1,614 technology professionals (65% practitioners—day-to-day users of observability tools—and 35% ITDMs) across 14 countries to understand their current use of observability tools and approaches, as well as their perspectives on the future of observability. 

Findings from the survey are published in our 2022 Observability Forecast report. In addition, New Relic is the first observability vendor to make its raw survey data open and available to the public for download.  

This comprehensive report covers observability topics like:

Here are five key findings on the current state of observability and where the greatest growth opportunities are for organizations. 

Observability has become a board-level imperative.

Not all observability approaches are created equal, and organizations may be outmatched by competitors with more mature observability practices.

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 and proactively find and resolve issues before they affect customer experience and application security.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents said C-suite executives in their organizations are advocates of observability, and 78% saw observability as a key enabler for achieving core business goals.

Observability as a key enabler for achieving core business goals or for incident response/insurance

Furthermore, of those who had mature observability practices by the report’s definition, 100% indicated that observability improves revenue retention by deepening their understanding of customer behaviors.

These findings imply that observability has become a board-level imperative.

Observability should have transparent and predictable pricing.

For observability tools to deliver good value, they must offer transparent pricing and predictable spending. In particular, the ability to scale automatically without penalty and pay as you go for exactly what you use was essential for many respondents.

Billing feature preferences

Affordable pricing was a high priority for decision makers investing in observability. The 2022 Observability Forecast found that 36% of respondents ranked budget-friendly pricing as a top priority in an observability tool, and 31% cited the ability to use a single license metric.

Pricing feature preferences

In addition, respondents were prepared to commit significant investments for observability—69% said they allocate more than 5% but less than 15% of their overall budget for observability tools, and 14% said they allocate more than 15%.

Percentage of IT budget allocated for observability tools

Prioritizing full-stack observability leads to fewer outages and faster MTTD and MTTR. 

According to the section on outage frequency, 66% of respondents who indicated that they had already prioritized/achieved full-stack observability were also more likely to experience the least frequent high-business-impact outages (two to three times per month or fewer), compared to the 45% who had not.

In addition, according to the section on mean time to detection (MTTD), 68% of respondents who said they had already prioritized/achieved full-stack observability also said it takes less than 30 minutes to detect high-business-impact outages, compared to the 44% who had not.

And in the section on mean time to resolution (MTTR), 61% of those who had already prioritized/achieved full-stack observability also said it takes less than 30 minutes to resolve high-business-impact outages, compared to the 38% who had not.

The data supports a strong correlation between full-stack observability, fewer outages, a faster MTTD, and a faster MTTR.

The research suggests 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 visualization of that data. And nearly half of all respondents (47%) said they prefer a single, consolidated observability platform.

Preference for a single, consolidated platform versus multiple point solutions

Most organizations will have robust observability practices in place by 2025.

When asked about the top trends driving observability needs at their organizations, respondents said risk mitigation, cloud-native application architectures, customer experience, and adoption of open-source technologies were among the highest drivers.

Technology strategies and trends driving the need for observability

By 2025, nearly all respondents expected to deploy capabilities like network monitoring, security monitoring, and log management, as well as less common capabilities like Kubernetes monitoring, with the majority indicating they would have 88–97% of the 17 observability capabilities deployed.

Capabilities deployment summary for 2022 through 2025

Most observability budgets will increase next year.

As they pursue aggressive observability capability deployment plans, 72% of respondents expected to maintain or increase their observability budgets next year. More than half (52%) of respondents, including 57% of C-suite executives, expected observability budgets to increase over the next year. This includes 14% of all respondents and 16% of C-suite executives who expected to increase budgets significantly or extensively.

Observability tools budget change expectations over the next year

Looking ahead, respondents foresaw their organizations needing observability for a variety of trending technologies, including AI, 5G, and Web3. C-suite executives anticipate needing observability most for AI (51%), IoT (48%), edge computing (38%), and blockchain (36%) in the next three years.

Technologies most needing observability in the next three years

Summary

As the 2022 Observability Forecast report shows, observability is a priority for decision-makers, including C-suite executives, and most organizations plan to have robust observability practices in place by 2025. Cost is a big concern, and yet the benefits of observability are worth the costs, including faster MTTR and MTTD of issues and fewer outages. So, it’s no surprise that so many respondents expected to increase their observability budgets next year.