University of Minnesota
Software Engineering Center

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Fifty Years of Observability

Date of Presentation: 
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Presented By: 
Over the past 50 years (!), I have watched our tools become increasingly sophisticated, but the complexity of our systems has stayed more or less the same - just out of reach of our ability to comprehend what's going on. We've progressed from wanting to know why airplanes crash to figuring out why servers freeze; but any time there's a complex system involved, bad stuff happens and we don't know why. In order to keep using complex systems, we need to figure out what triggers problems and keep these things from happening again. For decades, we have used observability tools to understand our systems and get them under control, one step at a time. Our reward has been increasingly stable systems, to which we could add yet another layer of complexity and start all over again.