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Scaling Observability in Small IT Teams: Who’s on Watch?

Scaling Observability in Small IT Teams: Who’s on Watch?

Observability is not just a buzzword in the IT world; it’s a vital aspect of ensuring that systems run smoothly and predictably. This term, which originated from the control theory in engineering, has evolved to refer to an IT system’s transparency and the capability to debug it.

But how do small IT teams manage observability? We asked ourselves the same question.  Let’s dive into the depths of scaling observability in small IT teams and the importance of being proactive.

The Concept of Observability and Its Significance

Before we delve deep, let’s understand the essence of observability. In a nutshell, observability is the ability to infer the internal states of a system from its external outputs. For IT, this implies understanding system health, performance, and behavior from the data it generates, such as logs, metrics, and traces.

In today’s complex digital landscape, with intricate architectures and a myriad of services running simultaneously, ensuring system health is paramount. Downtimes and performance issues can erode customer trust and result in financial losses. This is where observability comes into play, giving teams insights into potential issues before they spiral out of control.

The Misconception About Observability and Team Size

Many believe that only large teams with vast resources can effectively manage observability. They couldn’t be more wrong. The size of the team isn’t a determinant of its efficiency. What matters more is the team’s agility, adaptability, and, most importantly, its tools and strategies.

Here at Veritas Automata, we’ve created large global IoT solutions for complex problems and provided bespoke solutions for the life sciences sector. Our team (internal hyperlink), a blend of Engineers, Mad Scientists, Project Managers, and Creative Problem Solvers, often finds that the trickier the problem, the more invigorated they are to solve it. Our focus on industries such as life sciences, transportation, and manufacturing, combined with our expertise in technologies like IoT, .Net, Node.js, React, Blockchain, and RoS, means we’re well-versed in the nuances of scaling observability.

Role Allocation and Responsibility Distribution

In a small IT team, every member is crucial. Everyone brings something unique to the table, and when it comes to observability, collaboration is the key. Some potential strategies for role allocation include:

Designating an Observability Champion: This doesn’t necessarily mean hiring a new person. It’s about identifying someone within the team who is passionate about observability and making them responsible for driving initiatives around it.

Rotational Monitoring: If a dedicated observability role isn’t feasible, setting up a rotation where team members take turns monitoring can be an effective solution. This ensures that everyone is familiar with the systems and can provide fresh perspectives. But remember, Observability is not monitoring; rather, monitoring is one part of Observability.

Collaborative Problem-Solving: Encourage a culture (internal hyperlink) where team members freely discuss anomalies they notice, brainstorm solutions, and work together to enhance observability mechanisms.

Staying Proactive in the Face of Limited Resources

At Veritas Automata, we pride ourselves on being force multipliers. We offer PaaS solutions that can enhance your observability measures and professional services to guide your automation strategies. Our platforms and strategies emanate from our vast experience, ensuring that even small teams can achieve top-tier observability.

The Power of Collaboration and Team Communication

Observability isn’t just about tools and metrics; it’s about communication. Teams need to foster an environment (internal hyperlink) where open dialogue about system performance is encouraged. Regular meetings to discuss system health, anomalies, and potential improvements can be the difference between identifying a problem early on and reacting to a system-wide catastrophe.

Our ethos at Veritas Automata revolves around tackling hard problems. We believe that communication, coupled with expertise, is the cornerstone of effective problem-solving. And, while we might shy away from world domination, we’re all in for world optimization.

Scaling observability in small IT teams might seem challenging, but with the right strategies, tools, and mindset, it’s absolutely achievable. Observability is not just for the big players; it’s for every team that values system health, performance, and customer trust. Remember, it’s not about who’s the biggest on the playground but who’s the most vigilant.

I like this strategy of fostering team members to take ownership of watching out these predictions that observability may bring, however, in a small IT team, there is the need that some team members have more than one responsibility, i.e. not only be developers but also temporally share some extra responsibilities (so that this responsibility does not always be assigned to a tech leader, who is full already with others), which can be rotated among other team members, such as in every sprint (2 weeks), or in every month, etc, so that  observability predictions do not become biased because of the analyzes the same person (who was not hired for the role, i.e. is not an SRE) has been constantly doing. Also, this same person might become tired of this role s/he was not hired for, so sharing this responsibility is key (in small IT teams) so that observability does not loose its benefits in the project, because of people (not because of its tools)

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