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What is an
Observability Engineer?

Table of Contents

An Observability Engineer moves beyond making the internal state of an organization’s infrastructure and services visible to stakeholders. It’s beyond just developing platforms and tooling to enable threat hunting, troubleshooting, capacity planning, reporting, and performance analysis.

It means more than just defining and delivering on a company’s observability roadmap while knowing the latest and greatest of emerging observability trends, tools and methodologies to continuously enhance systems and processes.

They build monitoring tools, develop pipelines, sometimes investigate incidents, and most certainly troubleshoot from time to time.

Are you an observability engineer?

Have you built monitoring tools? Developed a data pipeline or two? Dealt with time series data? Maybe distributed tracing? Have you been asked to monitor and review an organization’s overall security posture? If so, the answer is most likely YES.

Why have I never heard of Observability Engineers?

Every organization has had a different “title” for this role (think SRE, or Tooling Admin, sometimes Security Analyst…oh and there’s more). No matter what it’s been called thus far, it’s time we call it what it really is…an Observability Engineer.

It’s really a person with a particular set of skills. As organizations continue to move forward in their digital transformation, this person with this particular set of skills, regardless of title, will be more and more in demand. These particular set of skills aren’t the type of skills only reserved for the one and only Liam Neeson, they can be learned through a career in IT and Security with the right mindset.

An Observability Engineer must understand the concept of data producers and consumers. Along with great technical skills (and potential certifications below), they must be curious, possess critical soft skills, and the ability to communicate across IT and business stakeholders.

Moving from an IT and Security Data Admin to an Observability Engineer

Why are Observability Engineers so important?

Observability engineers play a critical role in organizations. It’s one that crosses numerous departments and the tools/technologies in use. And it’s becoming more and more critical every day as data volumes continue to rise and enterprises understand the importance of this data.

Moreover, organizations are continuously forced to deal with a deluge of new observability and security requirements, and look no further than the Observability Engineer to make sense of and implement these requirements. But it’s no small feat as data volumes increase and budgets are staying flat or contracting.

How can one become a successful observability engineer?

Well, first of all it’s time to set a standard. It’s time to validate what it truly means to be an Observability Engineer and define this role and skill set. It’s time to recognize the leaders and the experts as well as shape a path to becoming one by providing the right guidance.

Can I become a certified Observability Engineer?

There are several certifications beneficial for SREs, or insert cloud platform name here admin, security analysts, etc, and they are great. But only a few are vendor agnostic. Here are the ones we recommend:

  • Cribl Certified Observability Engineer (CCOE): It’s the first-of-its-kind observability industry credential that aims to set this standard and validate a learner’s observability lifecycle skills from planning and design to operating and optimizing. CCOE has been established to not only assist Cribl Stream adopters and users, but more so others in this space that could benefit greatly with a better understanding of key observability tools, and a working knowledge of how to unlock the value of all observability and telemetry data.
  • AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud Platform Certifications:
    • AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate: The industry-recognized AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Associate (SAA) showcases knowledge and skills in AWS technology across a wide range of AWS services. The focus of this certification is on the design of cost and performance optimized solutions, demonstrating a strong understanding of the AWS Well-Architected Framework.
    • Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert: An Azure solutions architect partners with developers, administrators, and other roles responsible for implementing solutions on Azure.
    • Google Cloud Platform Professional Cloud Architect: Professional Cloud Architects enable organizations to leverage Google Cloud technologies. With a thorough understanding of cloud architecture and Google Cloud, they design, develop, and manage robust, secure, scalable, highly available, and dynamic solutions to drive business objectives.
  • Certified Ethical Hacker Certification: The CEH is designed to help individuals increase an organization’s security posture.
  • CompTIA Network+: covers the configuration, management, and troubleshooting of common wired and wireless network devices. Also focus on specific areas like critical security concepts, key cloud computing best practices and typical service models, newer hardware and virtualization techniques and concepts to give individuals the combination of skills to keep the network resilient.
  • Site Reliability Engineer Foundation: builds competence in SRE principles & practices, service level objectives & error budgets, monitoring and service level indicators, as well as SRE tools & automation
  • Elastic Certified Engineer: For Elastic and Kibana users looking to ties logs, metrics, and APM traces together to form a clear view of what’s happening across their entire ecosystem
  • Splunk Cloud Certified Admin: builds competence in managing and configuring details for Splunk Cloud, including data inputs and forwarder configuration, data management, user accounts, basic monitoring and problem isolation. You’ll be able to support the day-to-day administration and health of your organization’s Splunk cloud environment

But rest assured, we put together a list of great content to help you avoid vendor lock in your observability journey, as well as some of the advanced content you’ll need to be successful in this role.

What is Observability?

Observability is a practice that helps you to learn about the important aspects of your environment without knowing in advance the questions you need to ask.
Building for the Future observability