With the rise of distributed application architectures, the need for a comprehensive observability solution is more significant than ever. At the same time, there are a number of new observability tools entering the market every day. Finding the right tool for your use case and framework has become a challenge in and of itself.
In this guide, we have compiled a list of 10 of the most popular and helpful observability tools in the current market to help you decide which one suits your use case the best.
What should you look for in an observability tool?
Observability tools are an important part of your software development lifecycle. Strong observability into your application and its infrastructure’s health increases its reliability and makes it less prone to unplanned outages. Here are a few factors which affect the overall usefulness of an observability tool:
- Core features offered
- Initial set-up experience
- Ease of use (UI/UX, automation, etc.)
- Third-party integrations
- After-sales support and maintenance
In order to provide a detailed and fair comparison, we will try to keep these factors in mind for all of the ten tools below.
9 observability tools worth exploring
In this article, we provide a quick look into nine popular observability tools. Each has their own benefits, costs, and has a differentiated set of tools for engineering teams. Here is a collection of the ten observability tools to consider using in your stack this year.
Appdynamics is one of the premier observability solutions in the market. It offers a complete suite of tools for gaining insights into your application and infrastructure. Its prominent features include end-user experience monitoring, runtime architecture modeling, component deep-dive monitoring, etc. Runtime architecture modeling is a feature offered by very few platforms. It enables you to trace a request as it travels from a user to your infrastructure and reaches back to the user in the form of a response.
AppD offers easy-to-use dashboards which you can customize and share with your team. AppD relies on machine learning to learn from the past data of your apps and try to predict their future performance. While installation experience may be complex, it has a detailed and intuitive UI.
The company has four pricing plans:
- Infrastructure Monitoring Edition - $6 per month per CPU Core
- Premium Edition - $60 per month per CPU Core
- Enterprise Edition - $90 per month per CPU Core
- Real User Monitoring - $0.06 per month per 1,000 tokens
Datadog is an observability platform that focuses on collaboration and connectivity. Its prominent offerings include network monitoring, traditional application performance monitoring coupled with log management, synthetic monitoring, etc. Datadog offers intuitive dashboards out-of-the-box to help you get started with visualization quickly.
Datadog’s dashboards are easy to customize and collaborate on. If your project relies on cloud technologies, Datadog might be just the right tool for you as it is built keeping cloud-native in mind.
Datadog offers highly modularised pricing models so that you can pay for just what you are looking to use. Datadog charges $18 per host per month for Pro, and $23 per host per month for Enterprise. Discounts are available for annual commitments. And if you are using more than 500 hosts, you may be able to qualify for volume based pricing.
Dynatrace is among the big players in the monitoring industry. It offers cutting-edge features such as end-user experience monitoring, user-defined transaction profiling, component deep-dive monitoring, etc. It utilizes AI heavily in its operations and can help you accurately predict your app’s behavior in the future.
Dynatrace offers a wide range of third-party integrations to help you connect with your productivity tools and services. It also provides automated intelligent alerting, which learns your app’s trends with time and improves itself. However, it can get noisy in the beginning.
Dynatrace offers detailed pricing options. You can easily choose what suits best to your needs and pay only for what you use.
Honeycomb is an observability-first platform that offers insights into the performance of your application. Some of its prominent features include query history and social debugging. It provides a flexible data model under which it allows users to freely instrument the code without worrying about the data structures involved. It enables users to see through their apps and identify what’s happening across the span of any business event.
Honeycomb offers quite a powerful and intuitive user interface, but its query build can get annoying to use sometimes. Also, getting externally collected data into the Honeycomb ecosystem can be problematic. Initial set-up can also be a little tricky and time-consuming. Honeycomb offers a transparent and straightforward pricing model.
Lightstep is an observability solution meant to monitor the health of and respond to changes in cloud-native applications. It has been created by the folks who launched observability at Google. One of Lightstep’s striking features is its cutting-edge distributed tracing support. It also provides a commendable metrics database.
Lightstep’s Change Intelligence provides users with actionable insights based on the data collected by the application. Lightstep offers quite extensive documentation and training material for first-time users. You can also opt for on-site & virtual training for the same.
On the downside, Lightstep’s web interface can sometimes get slow to use, and it can become difficult to estimate the resources required for data collection agents. Also, searching in the tool is not quite advanced.
Lightstep offers simple, descriptive pricing models which you can opt for by yourself on its website.
Logicmonitor is a SaaS-based observability platform. It provides observability into networks, servers, apps, websites, and other infrastructure components. It is known for its robust alerting and dynamic thresholds. One of its prominent offerings is cloud services monitoring. It can also detect anomalies in the usage trends and notify your teams accordingly.
Logicmonitor leverages AIOps to provide more valuable, actionable insights into your platform. It uses alert forecasting and data usage forecasting to reduce clutter and provide a more reliable and better experience.
However, network automation and reporting for large environments are not its strengths. Also, the alerting functionality can be a little challenging to set up for first-time users. While it offers two different pricing plans, you need to contact the sales team to get a quote.
New Relic has been among the premier observability solutions in the market for quite a long time. Its instrumentation is relatively easy and flexible too. You can gain rich and detailed transaction data using this tool. One of its key features includes cloud service instrumentation, which makes it compatible with modern distributed architectures.
New Relic offers an extensive range of third-party integrations to promote collaboration. However, its user interface is clunky and can be tough to understand for new users. One of the most significant drawbacks of this tool for newcomers is the lack of pricing information. The pricing models are limited, and you need to contact sales if you need anything other than its free plan.
New Relic acquired Pixie at the end of 2020, and has since integrated Pixie into its core offering.
Splunk, founded in 2003, is one of the oldest performance monitoring tools in the industry. It offers excellent cloud infrastructure scalability and provides detailed logging for all monitoring operations. Splunk’s API monitoring is accurate, and the tool provides excellent dashboard options for visualization and analysis.
However, its logs could use some density and detailing to give an in-depth analysis of issues. The tool’s documentation is not up to mark, and the troubleshooting feature can get challenging to use at times. On the cost front, Splunk is expensive and might not fit into the budget of small companies.
Sumo logic is a log management tool that can take in log data generated in your infrastructure and provide vital insights into its health and performance. It is effortless to use and has a simplistic user interface. It offers clean dashboards with powerful searching and querying facilities. You can create email alerts based on the incoming log data quite easily.
However, the querying language that the tool uses can be challenging to learn. Overall, the tool can be tough to grasp in the beginning. Sumo logic offers quite descriptive pricing plans on their website, and they have something for organizations of all scales.
Observability vs. monitoring
An observability tool is a software product that helps businesses receive continuous insights on the overall health of their deployed applications. You should not confuse it with monitoring — a simple practice of collecting logs from various aspects of an application and analyzing them to check if everything is working fine. Observability is much more than uptime monitoring and error tracking; it is about analyzing and predicting the health trends of an application.
Observability is very important for you if you have a reasonably large application that relies on various deployment environments and other moving parts. However, if you have a relatively simple application deployed on a PaaS like Heroku, you probably don’t need to worry about it; simple monitoring will suffice for you.
In the current technical market, maintaining on-point observability into your software products is crucial to staying ahead of the competition. To help you with that, we put forward our guide on ten observability tools in the monitoring & observability industry. We hope that this guide will help you find the right solution for yourself!