Observability is vital when it comes to producing and maintaining modern
applications. Ironically, there are still a lot of obscurities when it comes to
Monitoring and observability are often mixed up, which is not quite right. This
could be due to the level of abstraction surrounding the concept. Many search
results providing an answer to "what is observability?" are tailored to fit
marketing purposes. DevOps.com identified this trend
Monitoring is tooling or a technical solution that allows teams to watch and understand the state of their systems. Monitoring is based on gathering predefined sets of metrics or logs.
Observability is tooling or a technical solution that allows teams to debug their system actively. Observability is based on exploring properties and patterns not defined in advance.
The main difference lies in the fact that monitoring requires prediction -
engineers must configure a monitor to check if a specific thing goes out or not.
Observability allows you to spot performance trends and issues and unexpected
service behavior, so it helps you to find places where monitoring is needed.
Observability platform vs. observability tool
Logs, Metrics, and Traces, also known as the three pillars of observability,
enable developers to reach observability in complex distributed services. Thus,
log management, monitoring, or tracing applications are observability tools that
offer only a partial insight due to how platforms handle ingested data.
Another issue is that it's still a relatively new concept. Most vendors offering
such platforms have been on the market for years, but the term observability
surfaced only recently. This can be illustrated with market giants like Datadog
and New Relic since they do not offer the same "observability" while both being
10 Best Observability Tools in 2023:
1. Better Stack
Better Stack is a log management solution based on ClickHouse, which allows it to be
fast without compromising security or reliability. Better Stack collects data from
the majority of the most popular languages, frameworks, and hosts.
It also offers advanced collaboration features, one-click filtering by context,
and presence & absence monitoring, all together in a developer-centric Dark UI.
Better Stack offers one-click integration with Better Stack Uptime, an uptime monitoring
and incident management tool from Better Stack. With this integration,
developers can join metrics and logs, collaborate on incidents, manage on-call
schedules and create status pages from one place.
A feature that stands out: One-click Integration with Better Stack Uptime's Incident Management
Both Better Stack Logs and Better Stack Uptime were built in Better Stack. Thanks to this, both
tools seamlessly integrate with the other. Better Stack Uptime allows you to set up
synthetic monitors, collaborate on incidents, manage on-call schedules and
create status pages.
Datadog is mainly praised for infrastructure and security monitoring features,
but it offers an entire suite of observability tools integrated into one
end-to-end platform. With Datadog, you can monitor Application Performance,
Gather data from real users, manage logs or declare and solve incidents.
A feature that stands out: Cloud Security Monitoring
Datadog offers an extended toolkit of security tools for cloud environments,
often reaching beyond the scope of other observability platforms. These include
Cloud SIEM, Cloud Security Posture Management (configuration rules for
monitoring compliance with standards like HIPAA or GDPR)
Dynatrace is an end-to-end observability platform offering an entire
observability toolkit from Infrastructure monitoring, Log management, and APM.
Dynatrace's Application monitoring is one of the best available. It allows you
to monitor the performance and security of cloud applications. It's also fairly
easy to work with, thanks to the One-Agent data collection and agent
configuration directly from the Web UI. You can find more information about
Dynatrace in our comparison article with Datadog, where
we deployed, tried, and tested both.
A feature that stands out: Davis, the AI-engine
Davis, the AI engine from Dynatrace, handles most of the data processing and
provides insights extracted from data across the stack. This can make the
pricing a bit confusing, mainly due to the Davis-unit pricing.
4. New Relic
New Relic is an observability platform with a toolkit divided into 16 main tools
covering everything from Infrastructure monitoring, Logging, APM, and RUM to
Security monitoring. It's been on the market since 2008 and is one of the most
renowned platforms out there. New Relic is mainly praised for top-notch APM
features, well integrated into the observability stack, and fairly easy
maintenance. Needless to say, really mastering the platform is not an easy or
cheap task. If you want to learn more about New Relic, make sure to check out
our Datadog vs. New Relic Comparison.
A feature that stands out: Free, full-platform subscription tier
New Relic offers full platform access for one user with the only restriction of
100 GBs of ingested data/month. However, from there, it only gets quite
Sentry is an error-tracking and application performance-monitoring platform.
It's a purpose-built tool capable of tracking key metrics, capturing distributed
traces, and revealing the cause and impact of errors and performance bottlenecks
in your service. It offers an unparalleled scope of support for languages and
A feature that stands out: Breadcrumbs, a trail of events leading to error
Sentry collects a lot of data and allows you to access it from multiple UIs.
Sentry's UI enables you to drill down from a project bird-view to a specific
trace. Breadcrumbs enable users to see a detailed trail of events leading to the
error. We've actually tried and tested this feature in our comparison
Signoz.io is an open-source application performance
monitoring tool backed by Y Combinator. While it's still a relatively new
project, it gains traction by the day. As of now, Signoz supports ingesting
metrics, logs, and traces, creating dashboards and panels, and even exporting
alerts to third-party solutions.
A feature that stands out: ClickHouse + Open Telemetry
Like Better Stack Logs, Signoz.io uses ClickHouse for DBMS. It also
leverages standards set by Open Telemetry for data collection, which makes it
really easy to start with but also to customize and cherrypick tools for your
observability stack. Open telemetry support is also advantageous in migrating to
other services supporting the same instrumentation.
7. Sumo Logic
Sumo Logic is an analytical platform delivering playing a key role in making
complex cloud architectures observable and secure. It offers few but
feature-saturated products for modern cloud infrastructures and applications
observability and monitoring. Sumo Logic also offers an entire security
monitoring and management suite.
A feature that stands out: Application Observability (APM, RUM + Security)
Performance monitoring or Application security monitoring are not unusual
features. However, Sumo Logic offers all of the above and additional features
like RUM, incident response, or even CrowdStrike
's threat intelligence.
Splunk is a unified security and observability platform offering real-time
visibility and data fidelity. It offers everything from infrastructure
monitoring, log management, RUM, and Synthetic monitoring, or APM. Splunk also
belongs among the founding members and active contributors to OpenTelemetry.
Splunk APM supports open, vendor-neutral instrumentation, allowing for even more
A feature that stands out: Observability, Security, and On-call under one roof
Splunk acquired Victor Ops and turned it into Splunk On-call, thus becoming one
of the few platforms offering a complete set of tools within one platform.
Jaeger was originally built by developers in Uber and then donated to CNCF.
Jaeger is now a popular, open-source end-to-end distributed tracing tool. It
allows you to perform root cause analyses, analyze server dependencies, optimize
performance and latency and monitor transactions. Additional features like
pipelines for post-collection data processing in other services are coming soon.
A feature that stands out: Jaeger supports multiple storage backends
Jaeger is flexible by default, thanks to its open-source nature. However, the
option of choosing different storage engines according to your operation's needs
is surely worth mentioning.
Prometheus is a monitoring and alerting platform originally developed by the
developers of SoundCloud and is the second hosted CNCF project after Kubernetes.
Prometheus is one of the most popular tools in many observability stacks. Thanks
to that, it has a wide range of active developers, client libraries, and
integrations needed to import third-party performance data.
A feature that stands out: Prometheus' own query language - PromQL
PromQL not only leverages the efficient and complex dimensional data mode but
also enables users to create really specific queries to generate graphs and
tables and handle the entire alert.
In this article, we've brought you a list of the best observability tools
covering the needs of any modern stack. If you want to learn more about
individual tools, or find a tool to cater to a very specific use-case? Here are
a few lists with monitoring tools to check out:
And if you got all the way here, thank you for reading our articles, and see you
at the next one.
Jenda leads Growth at Better Stack. For the past 5 years, Jenda has been writing about exciting learnings from working with hundreds of developers across the world. When he's not spreading the word about the amazing software built at Better Stack, he enjoys traveling, hiking, reading, and playing tennis.
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