The Relicans

Kirk Haines
Kirk Haines

Posted on • Updated on

What is O11y?

Yeah. Acronyms. They make things a little easier to type because things like o11y are a lot faster to write, particularly if you do it a lot, than things like observability. But the flip side of that coin is that if you don't already know what an acronym means, you are at a disadvantage to understanding anything that uses that acronym.

While this little article can't help you to figure out what most of the acronyms of the world mean, it can help with one.

O11y

Simply put, o11y is observability.

But what is observability?

I hear you. So, let's close that loop, too.

Observability, in general terms, refers to how well the internal states of something can be understood or inferred from the data that thing provides externally.

Observability as it applies to the human body, for instance, might be things like body temperature, skin color, rates of breathing or heart rate, pupil dilation, etc.

Most of the time, though, when people are talking about o11y or observability, they are talking about computer systems. The scale of these systems can span from individual processes to massive infrastructure supporting and internet-scale application deployment. The scale, though, doesn't matter so much.

What matters is the ability to collect data from those systems -- the infrastructure and software equivalents of body temperature, heart rate, and skin tone -- and to use that data to make accurate inferences about the state and the health of the systems internally.

So when someone talks about o11y or observability, they are really just talking about the ability to see inside of another system in order to draw some conclusions about how well the system is working.


I stream on Twitch for The Relicans. Stop by and follow me at https://www.twitch.tv/wyhaines, and feel free to drop in any time. In addition to whatever I happen to be working on that day, I'm always happy to field questions or to talk about anything that I may have written.

Discussion (5)

Collapse
pachicodes profile image
Pachi πŸͺ (she/her/ela)

Now my question is, why is o11y is an acronym for observability?
Also great post, I really enjoyed the way you explain Observability.

Collapse
xomiamoore profile image
Mia Moore

The "11" stands for the 11 letters between the "o" and the "y"! That's why a11y = accessibility too, and Kubernetes = K8!

Collapse
pachicodes profile image
Pachi πŸͺ (she/her/ela)

ohhhhhhhhh I have no clue!
It seems silly lol but makes sense

Thread Thread
xomiamoore profile image
Mia Moore

I never would have figured it out til someone told me πŸ˜‚

Collapse
eduardoklosowski profile image
Eduardo Klosowski

Now you can use i18n for internationalization, l10n for localization, k8s for kubernetes...