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SLOs Are Emerging As A Primary Observability Instrument | Austin Parker, Lightstep


Traditionally, SLOs or service-level objectives were focused on how end-users and customers were experiencing your website or product. However, there is a growing trend of SLOs now being applied more broadly to other areas and in more innovative ways.

It’s also becoming clear that traditional models of monitoring can fall short with typing in the business value to the backend. The dashboards which are created can be brittle, requiring a lot of maintenance and it can be difficult to bring in the key people.

SLOs try to align SLIs (service-level indicators) with tangible business metrics or values, helping organizations identify the SLIs that contribute to the SLO and giving you an error budget to make changes or improve your software.

In this episode of TFiR Let’s Talk, Swapnil Bhartiya sits down with Austin Parker, Head of Developer Relations at Lightstep, to discuss what exactly SLOs are and why they are a better approach for organizations compared to traditional monitoring practices. He shares his views on the challenges organizations face with SLOs as well as the business value they can bring.

Key highlights from this video interview are:

  • One of the key trends at SLOconf was the emerging consensus of SLOs as a primary observability instrument. Although SLOs used to be primarily used by larger enterprises, Parker feels that that is changing. He goes into detail about the trends he is seeing with SLOs and their uses.
  • SLO is a measurement of system performance that connects business value to underlying SLIs. Parker explains what exactly an SLO is and why they are preferable compared to traditional monitoring practices.
  • Parker feels the three key challenges of the traditional model of monitoring: the dashboards created are brittle and require constant maintenance, distance between the person creating the dashboard and the people responsible for interpreting it, and alerts require a lot of cognitive load.
  • Although the shift left movement has changed the development culture, the organizational culture of how money is allocated has not changed and silos do still remain. Parker discusses how SLOs can be used to break down barriers in organizations.
  • Parker believes SLOs can help democratize data and tie together different data sources. He discusses the business value SLOs can bring to enterprise users and the challenges of tying together business value to the back end with SLOs.
  • According to Parker, the best way to get the telemetry to make a good SLO is through distributed tracing. He shares his insights into this process and why he feels this is the best approach.
  • Getting the right balance of SLOs is key, and sometimes enterprises try to switch everything over to SLOs while others go too small. He details some of the most common mistakes enterprises make and how to avoid them.

Connect with Austin Parker (LinkedIn, Twitter)

The summary of the show is written by Emily Nicholls.

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