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Observability

Top 9 Observability Tools of 2024

 

The ability to peer deeply into the inner workings of software and systems isn’t just advantageous – it’s essential.

Observability, a term that’s gaining traction among tech professionals, stands at the forefront of this shift, empowering software engineers and DevOps teams with the clarity and insight needed to steer complex systems toward optimal performance.

As the demand for good observability methods continues to rise, we’ve seen an influx of services stepping up to the plate to provide.

Join us as we give a detailed guide on our top 9 observability tools on the market today, and learn their best features, pricing options, and pros and cons.

TIP: Before you read about the tools of the trade, be sure to check out our observability guide to learn the ins and outs of this strategy.

Table of contents:

What are observability tools?

Observability tools are instruments designed for software engineers and DevOps teams to gain in-depth insights into their systems. These tools go beyond data collection and allow teams to actively interrogate and explore their systems in real-time.

With observability tools, professionals can track down the root causes of issues, observe trends, and keep their services running smoothly and efficiently.

This suite of tools typically includes capabilities for handling logs, metrics, and traces, which collectively form the backbone of a full and complete observability strategy.

Observability vs. monitoring

Understanding how digital systems work requires getting to grips with two key ideas: observability and monitoring. Although people often mix these up, they’re just different ways of keeping an eye on your IT systems.

Monitoring is the older method of the two. It means watching over your systems by checking certain metrics and logs to see if everything’s working right. It’s mainly about spotting problems after they’ve happened.

Observability is the newer approach and it’s often seen as more proactive. It doesn’t just stick to a script of known issues. Instead, it lets teams explore their systems in-depth to figure out what’s going on inside, based on what they can see happening on the outside.

This is especially useful because today’s systems can become quite complicated, and new kinds of problems can pop up out of nowhere.

With observability, it’s not waiting for alarms to go off.

Teams can actually get ahead of issues, understanding and fixing them before things go wrong. This needs a good set of tools that give a full picture of what’s happening inside the system, helping teams make smart decisions to keep everything running smoothly.

So, while monitoring alerts you to problems you already know might happen, observability gives you the tools to understand your systems better and stay one step ahead of potential issues. 

This difference is crucial in today’s fast-moving world, where being able to quickly adapt and understand complex systems is key to keeping everything running reliably.

Top 9 observability tools

Choosing the right observability tool can be a game-changer for your organization, allowing you to dive deep into your system’s performance and anticipate issues before they escalate.

With a plethora of options available, selecting the best fit requires a detailed look at what each tool offers.

1. UptimeRobot

uptimerobot-dashboard

UptimeRobot focuses on uptime monitoring in the first place, but includes multiple observability features that will boost your monitoring processes. 

With a modern and user-friendly dashboard and a mobile app for both iOS and Android UptimeRobot is a popular solution for more than 2.1+ million users worldwide.

It’s designed to offer straightforward yet effective monitoring solutions, ensuring your websites, servers, domains, SSL certificates, ports, cron jobs, and devices remain operational and responsive.

It offers a fully customizable status page that you can use to keep your users informed in advance or during maintenance, or privately with your team to improve your incident management.

Best features

  • Instant alerts: Choose from up to 16 notifications like email, SMS, push notifications, webhooks, and popular third-party integrations PagerDuty, Pushbullet, Slack, or Discord.
  • Uptime insights: See all important data about uptime, response times, and downtime causes in one place to help identify and resolve issues promptly.
  • Monthly reports: Receive a complete overview of your uptime data, recent incidents, and monitors.
  • Status pages: Create customizable public status pages to communicate system status transparently with users or customers, or to cooperate with your team.
  • Easy integration: Features a powerful API for seamless integration with your existing tools and workflows.
  • Sub users: Share access to your account with admin, write, read, and notify-only permissions.

Pricing

  • Free plan: Offers basic monitoring features for 50 monitors with 5-minute check intervals.
  • Pro plans: Start from $7/month, providing 1-minute or 30-second checks, advanced features, and plenty of integrations for your favorite programs.

Want to start monitoring fast? Sign up for free!

2. Dynatrace

dynatrace-homepage

Dynatrace offers an all-encompassing observability solution, using artificial intelligence to automate the detection, analysis, and resolution of system issues.

It provides in-depth information about application performance, infrastructure health, and digital experience, supporting modern, dynamic cloud environments.

Best features

  • Unified observability: Integrates logging, metrics, and APM within a single platform for easier management and correlation of data.
  • Cloud-native support: Offers out-of-the-box support for cloud services, containers, and serverless functions, facilitating modern application monitoring.
  • Advanced analytics: Features customizable dashboards and sophisticated analytics tools for detailed insights and data-driven decision-making.
  • Automated anomaly detection: Utilizes machine learning to automatically detect and alert on anomalies, aiding in proactive issue identification.
  • Extensive integration ecosystem: Boasts a broad array of integrations with various cloud services, development tools, and orchestration platforms.

Pricing

  • 15-day free trial
  • Custom pricing: Dynatrace offers tailored pricing based on your specific monitoring needs and scale of operations.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ AI-driven insights greatly reduce manual troubleshooting effort. ❌ Higher complexity and steep learning curve for new users.
✅ Comprehensive coverage across applications, infrastructure, and user experience. ❌ Pricing can be higher compared to other solutions, especially for small teams.
✅ Extensive integrations facilitate a holistic observability strategy. ❌ Some users report underdeveloped monitoring capabilities

 

3. New Relic

newrelic-homepage

New Relic delivers a full-stack observability platform that enables teams to track, visualize, and analyze their software’s performance and health in real time.

It is designed to support complex ecosystems, from applications to infrastructure and digital customer experiences.

Best features

  • Full-stack observability: Offers insights across applications, infrastructure, end-user experience, and more in one unified platform.
  • Real-time analytics: Empowers teams with real-time data and analytics to make faster, informed decisions.
  • Customizable dashboards: Users can create tailored dashboards to focus on the metrics that matter most to them.
  • Scalable architecture: Designed to support dynamic cloud environments, ensuring scalability and flexibility.
  • Extensive ecosystem integration: Seamlessly integrates with a wide range of technologies and platforms for comprehensive monitoring.

Pricing

  • Free tier: Provides basic features for small teams and projects.
  • Priced based on usage and number of users, with more advanced features and support options. You’ll get 100 GB/month included and $.30/GB or usage above that.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ Full coverage of monitoring needs in a single platform. ❌ Complex pricing model can be difficult to predict and manage.
✅ Highly customizable dashboards and powerful analytics capabilities. ❌ Initial setup and learning curve can be hard to grasp.
✅ User session replay for easier debugging and understanding of user interactions. ❌ Some users report difficulties due to a lack of guidance or resource materials.

4. Sentry

sentry-homepage

Sentry offers application monitoring that focuses on error tracking and performance monitoring, which makes it easier for developers to identify, diagnose, and fix issues in real time.

This tool is particularly well-suited for application developers looking to improve code quality and application reliability.

Best features

  • Error tracking: Automatically captures exceptions and errors, providing detailed stack traces for faster debugging.
  • Performance monitoring: Measures application performance, identifying bottlenecks and areas for optimization.
  • Real-time alerts: Notifies teams immediately when issues are detected, allowing for quick response.
  • SDK integration: Supports a wide range of programming languages and frameworks for easy integration into your development workflow.
  • Code insights: Offers insights into the impact of errors and performance issues on users to prioritize fixes effectively.

Pricing

  • Free plan includes basic error tracking and performance monitoring features.
  • Team ($26/month) and Business ($80/month) plans offer more advanced features and greater event volume, with Enterprise pricing available upon request.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ Exceptional for tracking and diagnosing errors in real-time. ❌ Pricing can become costly as event volume and project size increase.
✅ Users report this service is extremely user friendly. ❌ Some feel that there aren’t enough integration options.
✅ Good value for price, according to users. ❌ Limited capabilities beyond error and performance monitoring compared to full-stack observability platforms.

 

5. Better Stack

betterstack-homepage

Better Stack provides a complete suite of tools designed to improve logging, monitoring, and incident management.

Its solutions are built to offer deep insights into system performance and user experiences, helping teams identify and resolve issues swiftly.

Best features

  • Advanced log management: Efficiently collect, search, and analyze logs across your entire stack for quicker debugging and analysis.
  • Real-time monitoring and alerts: Monitor system health and performance metrics in real time, with instant alerts to notify you of potential issues.
  • Incident management: Streamline incident response with integrated management features, ensuring quick resolution and minimal downtime.
  • One-click integration: Easily integrates with a variety of tools and platforms, enabling a seamless observability workflow.
  • Developer-centric UI: Offers a user-friendly interface designed with developers in mind, making it easier to access and understand critical data.

Pricing

  • Free plan includes basic monitoring features for smaller teams and projects.
  • Freelancer plan for $25/month includes more advanced features, with 50 monitors and 30 second checks.
  • Small Team ($85/month) and Business ($170/month) offer more users, monitors, status pages, and better support.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ Very smooth integration capabilities. ❌ Some advanced features may require a learning curve to use effectively.
✅ Comprehensive monitoring solutions with actionable insights. ❌ Some users have reported that they’d like more customization options.
✅ Intuitive developer interface.

6. Grafana

grafana-homepage

Grafana is renowned for its powerful analytics and visualization capabilities, offering a flexible platform for monitoring and exploring metrics from various data sources.

Grafana is particularly favored for its customization options and wide range of plugins.

Best features

  • Customizable dashboards: Create highly customizable dashboards to visualize data exactly how you need.
  • Broad data source support: Integrates with numerous databases and monitoring tools, allowing for versatile data visualization.
  • Advanced analytics: Provides advanced analytics tools for deeper insights into your data.
  • Alerting: Features extensive alerting capabilities to notify teams of identified issues.
  • Extensive plugin ecosystem: Increases functionality with a wide range of community and official plugins.

Pricing

  • Forever free plan gives access to all features, including 50k frontend observability sessions.
  • Pay as You Go is the same as the free plan, but you simply pay for what you use beyond what’s included in the free tier.
  • The Advanced plan at $299/month gives you twice the amount of usage, and 24/7 support, among other benefits.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ Highly customizable and versatile for various data visualization needs. ❌ Some believe granular permissions could be improved.
✅ Strong community support and an extensive range of plugins. ❌ Some beginners find Grafana’s documentation confusing.
✅ Extremely generous free plan with fair pricing options.

 

7. Splunk

splunk-homepage

Splunk is a leading platform for searching, monitoring, and analyzing machine-generated big data via a web-style interface. It’s designed to make machine data accessible across an organization and identifies data patterns, provides metrics, diagnoses problems, and provides intelligence for business operations.

Best features

  • Powerful search and analysis: Enables complex searches, correlations, and analysis across large volumes of data.
  • Real-time visibility: Provides real-time insights into application performance, security threats, and operational issues.
  • Scalable architecture: Designed to scale from small to large volumes of data seamlessly.
  • Extensive integration options: Offers a wide range of integrations with other tools and services for better functionality.
  • Advanced security analytics: Features robust security capabilities for threat detection and compliance monitoring.

Pricing

  • Free version: Offers limited features for smaller teams.
  • Enterprise version: Pricing varies based on data usage and specific organizational needs.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ Highly flexible and capable of processing vast amounts of data efficiently. ❌ Can become expensive for large-scale deployments.
✅ Intuitive interface with powerful search capabilities. ❌ Steep learning curve for new users unfamiliar with SPL (Search Processing Language).
✅ Advance security features for full threat analysis and compliance. ❌ Customization and advanced features require technical expertise.

8. Prometheus

prometheus-homepage

Prometheus is an open-source system monitoring and alerting toolkit originally built by SoundCloud.

It’s now a standalone open source project and maintained independently of any company. Designed for reliability, it records real-time metrics in a time series database built using an HTTP pull model, with flexible queries and real-time alerting.

Best features

  • Multi-dimensional data model: Uses time series data identified by metric name and key/value pairs for flexible and powerful querying.
  • Powerful query language: PromQL allows for precise and complex queries to extract meaningful insights from your data.
  • Efficient storage: Implements a highly efficient time series database to manage data.
  • Active community: Benefits from a vibrant open-source community contributing to its ongoing development.
  • Integrated alerting: Features an alerting system that integrates with external services for notifications.

Pricing

  • Free to use, with costs associated with self-hosting or optional commercial support services.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ Easy set up and free to use. ❌ While powerful, the PromQL query language can be challenging for beginners.
✅ Highly efficient and reliable for large-scale deployments. ❌ Some users find limitations in setting granular permissions.
✅ Active development and community support ensure continual improvement and help.

9. LightStep

lightstep-homepage

LightStep delivers comprehensive observability with deep insights into system performance and behavior. It’s designed to help teams quickly diagnose and resolve issues in complex distributed systems.

Best features

  • High-resolution traces: Provides detailed traces to understand system behavior and pinpoint issues.
  • Real-time analysis: Offers instant insights and correlation across massive datasets for rapid problem resolution.
  • Smooth integration: Easily integrates with existing tools and services for a cohesive observability strategy.
  • Advanced analytics: Empowers users with advanced analytics tools for in-depth system analysis.
  • Collaborative incident response: Features tools for effective team collaboration during incident response.

Pricing

  • Lightstep offers customized pricing based on specific business needs and usage.

Pros and cons

Pros Cons
✅ Provides insights with high-resolution data and real-time analytics. ❌ Pricing transparency could be improved.
✅ Intuitive interface simplifies navigation and analysis. ❌ Some users find it challenging to access basic APM data within LightStep.
✅ Easy set up and customizable dashboards.

How to choose the right observability tool

Selecting the right observability tool for your organization involves considering a range of factors that align with your specific needs, infrastructure complexity, and strategic goals. Here’s a guide to help you make an informed decision:

Understand your requirements

Begin by identifying the specific challenges and needs your organization faces. Are you looking for real-time analytics, support for microservices, or advanced security features? Understanding your unique needs will help narrow down your options.

Evaluate the tool’s capabilities

Assess the core functionalities of each tool, including data collection methods (logs, metrics, traces), analysis and visualization capabilities, alerting and notification systems, and integration with other tools and services.

Consider the scalability

Your observability tool should be able to scale with your organization. Look for tools that can handle the volume of data you expect to generate and offer flexibility in terms of deployment options (cloud, on-premises, hybrid).

Check for integration options

An observability tool that seamlessly integrates with your existing technology stack (CI/CD pipelines, cloud services, container orchestration tools, etc.) will offer more value by providing a unified view of your system’s health and performance.

Review the community and support

For open-source tools, a vibrant community can be a valuable resource for support and innovation. For commercial tools, make sure the vendor provides adequate support and professional services to assist with deployment, customization, and troubleshooting.

Analyze the cost

Beyond the initial purchase price or subscription fee, consider the total cost of ownership, including deployment, training, maintenance, and necessary hardware or infrastructure upgrades. Some tools may offer a free tier or trial period that can help you assess their value before committing.

Security and compliance

Make sure the observability tool adheres to your industry’s security standards and compliance requirements. The ability to redact sensitive information and provide secure access controls is highly important.

User feedback and reviews

Look for reviews, case studies, and testimonials from current users. Their experiences can provide insights into the tool’s reliability, performance, and ease of use.

Conclusion

As systems become increasingly complex and distributed, the ability to gain more detailed insights into their behavior and performance is essential for improving reliability, optimizing resources, and delivering an overall pleasant user experience.

The observability tools discussed in this guide offer a range of capabilities designed to meet diverse needs, from comprehensive platforms like Dynatrace and New Relic, to specialized solutions like Prometheus for metric collection, and Grafana for data visualization.

Each tool has its strengths and is best suited to specific use cases, whether you’re looking for detailed analytics, extensive integration options, or a full litany of alerting mechanisms.

Looking ahead, the significance of observability in bolstering and streamlining IT systems is poised to escalate. Embracing observability practices and tools that match your organization’s needs enables you to efficiently resolve issues and proactively fine-tune your systems for forthcoming challenges.

This proactive stance equips you to adeptly manage the complexities of today’s IT environments, promoting continuous development and innovation within your organization.

And since you’re already here, what about getting a lifetime free uptime monitoring with 50 monitors?

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Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is for informational purposes only. Our rankings and reviews are based on our own research and analysis, aimed at providing unbiased, objective, and reliable information to our readers. Despite our affiliation, we strive to maintain objectivity and factual accuracy in our content.

However, we cannot guarantee that all information presented is up-to-date or entirely accurate. We encourage you to conduct your own research and consult with professionals before making any decisions based on the information found on this page. If you detect any inaccuracies, please do not hesitate to inform us.


Written by Laura Clayton

Copywriter | LinkedIn

Laura Clayton is a copywriter with a BA in fiction writing from Columbia College Chicago. From holding a position as a background investigator retained by the United States government, to teaching English, and writing about real estate, Laura has a diverse and varied background. She has been writing for SaaS companies since 2019 in a wide range of industries.

Her qualifications and experience make her adept at creating content that is compelling, informative, and aligned with bringing readers the most accurate information.

In her personal life, Laura is an avid reader and fan of Stephen King, finding inspiration and enjoyment in his storytelling techniques for her own writing. Additionally, Laura practices yoga on an amateur level, valuing the physical and mental benefits it offers. This eclectic blend of interests enriches her life and indirectly contributes to her unique voice in the professional realm.

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Our content is peer-reviewed by our expert team to maximize accuracy and prevent miss-information.

Fact checked by Tomas Koprusak

Product Owner | LinkedIn

Tomas Koprusak is a Product Owner at UptimeRobot. He has a rich history in similar roles at global IT powerhouses like IBM, where he started as a developer and moved to a Product Manager position, working with EMEA clients and colleagues from the US, Brazil, and China.

He has worked for Sygic as a marketer and co-led the implementation and development of a product acquired from a competitor. He has also worked as a freelance developer, helping clients from various areas.

Tomas brings a wealth of industry experience to our team. He spent a few years in the blockchain industry, leading projects and marketing teams at multiple blockchain-based companies. He has presented products and managed deals in more than 10 countries around the world, managed the ICO, and built a successful marketing team at Fuergy that continues to thrive.

Tomas managed a product team for the biggest job site in Slovakia, covering development and transformation to a new B2B app.

Not only is Tomas skilled at web development, but he also has a deep understanding of SaaS businesses, which makes him an invaluable asset in shaping and leading various projects at UptimeRobot. His focus is always on the continual improvement of our service and user experience.

In addition to his professional achievements, Tomas is a devoted father. His personal interests include cycling (he traveled around the whole country of Slovakia), playing guitar (he even played in a band), servicing bikes, music, and enjoying good beer.

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