Grafana Labs Observability Survey 2023 Finds Centralization Saves Time and Money for an Industry Plagued by Tool and Data Source Overload

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Grafana Labs, the company behind the open and composable operational dashboards, announced the findings of the Grafana Labs Observability Survey 2023. The report, which focused on the state of observability, found that organizations are challenged by tool sprawl and data source overload, with 52% of respondents reporting that their companies use 6 or more observability tools, including 11% that use 16 or more. To combat this, 70% of respondents say their companies have centralized observability, and of those, 83% have saved time or money as a result. 

Pulling together responses from an anonymous online survey as well as more in-depth interviews with half a dozen observability practitioners, the research provides a look into where the industry is today and where it’s headed in the future. Respondents from across industries, at organizations large and small, commented on observability tools, techniques, benefits, and challenges, and many reported how observability is helping their organizations save costs and drive efficiencies. Other key takeaways from the report include:

  • Organizations are using a wide range of observability tools. Grafana (94%) and Prometheus (79%) were by far the most commonly used observability tools, which points to heavy Kubernetes usage. But respondents listed more than 20 others in active use, including established products like Elastic (44%), Datadog (19%), and Splunk (22%), as well as emerging tools like Grafana Loki (44%).
  • Tool and data overload varies across industry, company size. Larger organizations tend to use more data sources: 41% of companies with more than 1,000 employees pull in 10+ data sources, compared to just 7% for companies with 100 employees or fewer. Industries leading in observability tool usage were financial services (31% use 10 or more tools) and government (27% use 10 or more tools).
  • Organizations are at different stages in their observability journey. Nearly one-third of respondents haven’t centralized observability yet, and some industries are further along than others. For example, 70% of financial sector companies have adopted centralized observability and saved time and money as a result, compared to 58% across all sectors.
  • Not all ROI is the same. Different organizations have different objectives with their observability strategies. Yes, saving money is the overarching goal, but there are multiple paths to get there, including MTTx improvements, less toil and infrastructure maintenance, better adoption, increased developer productivity, less complexity, service level objectives (SLOs), better capacity planning, and better alerting and visibility. Among all respondents, 37% say they prioritize capacity planning when correlating data, 25% prioritize cost control, and 9% prioritize profitability and margin calculation.  
  • Accountability, market maturity comes to observability. The proper execution of SLOs is a good sign of a mature observability strategy. Most respondents say they are using them or moving in that direction, but they’re not all at the same stage. Moreover, only slightly more are actively using SLIs/SLOs (28%) than those that don’t have them on their radar (21%).

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