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Presentation: Observability to Better Serverless Apps

Track: Finding the Serverless Sweetspot

Location: Broadway Ballroom South, 6th fl.

Duration: 10:35am - 11:25am

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Slides: Download Slides

Level: Intermediate

Persona: Architect, Developer, DevOps Engineer

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What You’ll Learn

  • Learn the type of information that is available to instrumenting applications in a severless world and how developer can get it out of the system.

  • Understand the types of things that should be monitored in a serverless system.

  • Hear a practices focused talk on serverless observability.


Development teams use various formal solutions such as Lean and Agile to learn from users and apply these to building better software. We'll dive into how serverless development with observability tooling can help bridge the gap between operations and business intelligence to learn better and iterate faster.


What's your talk about?


Serverless computing brings with it a lot of convenience, but it also presents a number of challenges for existing tools and an operational mindset.

Serverless does require a certain level of tooling and it requires visibility into not just how your application is operating but how that relates to application state and end-user behavior.


Is the goal to talk to developers about what to be thinking about when you instrument a serverless app?


Yeah, exactly, it's what developers should be thinking about. Basically, I think developers need to be in a mindset generally of instrumenting their applications not just in serverless but beyond. I think that with a more traditional system it was almost a nice to have, but observability becomes even more crucial for serverless applications. That's because you have far less ability to infer the health of your application through infrastructure alone.

When you eliminate worries and concerns about the health of the application on the infrastructure side, you become much more sensitive to the health of the overall application at the application instrumentation layer.


Is a developer your main audience in this talk?


I think it is definitely to a developer, but it can also be to organizational leads. Managers that are looking to better understand what their developers should be focusing on and what kind of information they might expect to get from a serverless system. I think that's really the message I'm trying to send. I'd like to really get both of those groups into that operational mindset.


What would you like a developer to leave your talk with?


I want them to leave the talk recognizing that they can provide value to their business and themselves through instrumentation and by understanding how their users are using their applications. The kind of visibility that developers are familiar with on the frontend through tools like Google Analytics is important on the backend too. It's not just uptime of CPU or the utilization of memory system. It's also about how users are interacting with your application, and whether or not the application is actually operating correctly. It's really not about where there is a hardware fault.


Are you going to be talking about ways to reason about serverless observability or about specific techniques to adopt?


I will definitely be veering away from specific tools. What I really want to do is show how this kind of information is valuable and that there are ways to get it in a serverless environment.

Speaker: Erica Windisch

CTO @IOpipes, former Maintainer Docker & OpenStack

Erica is CTO & Founder at IOpipe where she is building tools to help developers of serverless applications iterate faster and support their applications in production. She is a former maintainer of Docker and OpenStack and has been building cloud, ops, and infrastructure tooling for over 15 years.

Find Erica Windisch at