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observabilityOne of the biggest growth opportunities for managed service providers (MSPs) in 2022 will be the transition away from simply monitoring IT environments to providing true observability based on all the metrics, logs and the distributed traces that can be collected from an IT environment.

At its core, observability promises to make it easier to identify anomalous behavior indicative of an IT issue before a major disruption occurs. In contrast, traditional IT monitoring focuses on predefined metrics to identify when a specific platform or application is performing within expectations. Monitoring tools make it possible to, for example, track resource utilization but the metrics collected can’t be analyzed in context with logs and distributed traces to make it simpler to proactively manage an IT environment.

Observability platforms gaining momentum

Observability platforms are gaining traction for two primary reasons. The first is the rise of open source agent software, provided by the OpenTelemetry project, that is being advanced under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and that is slowly but surely making it easier to instrument IT environments. The second is the cloud platforms for collecting and analyzing all that data are making it easier to correlate events.

The issue that IT organizations will increasingly encounter in 2022 is that the mere existence of an observability platform is not all that useful if no one knows what queries to launch. The average MSP has a lot more experience managing IT environments at scale than the average internal IT team. As such, an observability platform in the hands of an MSP is going to be a lot more useful. The simple fact is the more data an observability platform aggregates the more accurate the insights become. Going into 2022, MSPs are in a unique position to launch managed observability practices at a level of scale that spans multiple platforms.

In contrast, few internal IT teams today have the wherewithal to instrument a single IT environment much less derive meaningful insights from the data collected. Even if an internal IT team can achieve true observability the total cost of meeting that goal is going to be prohibitively expensive when compared to consuming observability as a service provided by an MSP.

Still early days

It’s early days as far as observability is concerned. Most IT teams are still trying to determine how observability actually differs from monitoring. However, as IT environments become more complex it’s now only a matter of time before more organizations realize they lack both the tools and expertise required to manage a modern IT environment.

Savvy MSPs are already investing in observability platforms and expertise today. There, of course, may come a day when machine learning algorithms will automate many observability tasks. However, it’s not likely algorithms are going to replace the need for the expertise of an engineer. Rather, they will simply augment the expertise of those engineers in a way that makes it more economical to profitably deliver a wider range of managed services across a broader range of customers. In meantime, MSPs would do well to remember that they can’t really manage what they first can’t observe.

Photo: Alex SG / Shutterstock


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Posted by Mike Vizard

Mike Vizard has covered IT for more than 25 years, and has edited or contributed to a number of tech publications including InfoWorld, eWeek, CRN, Baseline, ComputerWorld, TMCNet, and Digital Review. He currently blogs for IT Business Edge and contributes to CIOinsight, The Channel Insider, Programmableweb and Slashdot. Mike blogs about emerging cloud technology for Smarter MSP.

5 Comments

  1. Was not aware of this until now, great to have a tip on what to look out for and keep informed

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  2. I think this will be a significant paradigm shift in the level of differentiation from one MSP to another.

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  3. Nice insights. Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Using this platform, I wonder if this would slow down the need for manual setups and being to automate a lot of our normal MSP processes. Not being able to see everything on the user front does hinder some things. This would help a lot it sounds like.

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