If there’s something you need to keep secure, it’s natural to want to keep it sealed away under lock and key. However, even keeping something in a vault, far from prying eyes and ill intent, may not be enough to offer peace of mind. After all, how can you have the peace of mind of knowing it’s safe if you don’t regularly check to ensure it hasn’t bolted, been burgled or broken down?
Now, multiply the volume and value of things being monitored tenfold — and you get a sense of the daily inefficiencies and anxieties IT professionals battle.
Instead of jewels, these teams safeguard, manage and maintain something far more valuable: The data that underpins everything from business transactions to system performance to threat detection to service delivery and beyond. To make matters more complicated, today’s digital ecosystems are more complicated, distributed and disparate than ever before.
Databases are critical to managing a successful IT department — and it’s time to discard the widespread industry’s perception of them as an unknowable black box. To be sure, databases represent the most difficult component of the IT ecosystems to observe, tune, manage and scale. But the database isn’t a Magic 8 ball in terms of its internal processes; We no longer have to shake the mystery toy and accept one of the six answers it’s designed to spit out.
The fact of the matter is that database specialists and IT teams need a clear view of database performance telemetry if they want any hope of maintaining the health, stability and scalability of their services.
This is where observability tools can play a transformative role. Taking its cues from the all-seeing panopticon watchtower, observability eliminates the dark corners of the database dungeon by providing a comprehensive view across the full cloud-native, on-premises and hybrid technology stacks.
The word panopticon derives from the Greek word panoptes, or “all-seeing.” The panopticon model features a central, lighted guard tower at the center of a circular room — allowing 360-degree lines of sight that allow the guards to observe every surrounding cell from a single, centralized vantage point.
English philosopher Jeremy Bentham had no way of foreseeing the challenges of today’s database professionals when he first conceived of the panopticon in the 1700s. The concept would lay the blueprint for a prison system designed around one core concept: Enabling the minimum number of guards to effectively monitor the maximum number of inmates. Bentham’s system also works as a strategy for ensuring the health and performance of your organization’s critical databases.
The panopticon was designed so that every cell could be monitored from one central point — ensuring not only better and more straightforward security but preserving resources in saved time, manpower and effort expended. Think of your ITOps, database, DataOps and DevOps teams as the wardens of your IT performance. Traditional monitoring can be likened to patrolling a traditional prison: Rows of cells facing out into a hallway that is patrolled on a schedule or used to spot and address misbehavior as it’s noticed.
How can they be sure they’re focusing their efforts in the right place? Or trust that Cell Block A won’t stage a breakout while they’re breaking up an argument in Cell Block B?
In short: They can’t. Odds are, the team is either running from outage to outage in an everlasting firefighting mode or relying on random spot checks for something as vital as the health of our IT systems.
Observability, as opposed to monitoring, puts teams into that central panopticon watchtower, allowing them to not just see everything, but to see it within the context of the bigger picture. This comprehensive visibility and always-on observation enable IT teams to identify critical issues as they occur, even those caused by complex dependencies between the database, operating system, storage subsystem and network.
Database Performance Issues
Furthermore, database performance issues are a starting gun for costly bottlenecks or serious outages that can handcuff your company’s ability to compete or grow. Without complete and precise database monitoring and observability, IT operations struggle to accurately determine an application’s root cause of performance issues. This increases the risk of downtime, data loss and poor customer experiences.
Discovering the root cause of performance issues is quite literally a system-critical undertaking, whether you’re simply running your enterprise, scaling your operations or deploying new code. Observability also offers teams the rare opportunity to get ahead of performance issues since you can see performance anomalies in advance of a service disruption rather than relying on real-time remediation.
With traditional methods, DevOps and IT teams must manually analyze the data presented to them, correlate it to the problem, and locate the error before they can finally begin addressing it. In contrast, observability collects data to provide information on what’s not performing as expected and why. This allows teams to take a proactive approach to solving downtime and bottlenecks and proactively preventing them.
In the software world, that translates directly to more time spent where it matters: Developing new business value within your applications and infrastructures, fueling innovation and exceeding customer expectations.
Given how complicated the modern database has — and continues to — become, arming your enterprise with the right observability solutions can provide a boost to efficiency and performance and pardon your teams from a sentence to time-consuming, mundane and error-prone work.