At the KubeCon 2023 conference in Chicago, I encountered startling stories highlighting a critical challenge in cloud native environments — the surging costs of observability.
A platform engineer enjoying his lunch at my table shared a bewildering experience: “Our DataDog bill skyrocketed from a steady $3,000 to $17,000 monthly without any obvious reason. This dramatic increase was a wake-up call to the hidden complexities and unforeseen expenses in our monitoring strategies.”
These instances of surging observability bills are increasingly common with the proliferation of cloud native distributed applications. In fact, the pace of observability data growth is so extreme it can lead to observability costing more than the actual application environment.
Another participant chimed in with a similar tale: “Following a software update, we noticed a drastic cost increase. It turned out our development team, aiming for more efficient debugging, significantly amplified logging volume, not realizing the financial impact.” Repercussions from making changes go beyond negative financial impact. If developers are overly concerned about causing a data — and cost — spike they become hesitant to roll out new code.
Similar to my lunch conversations, during a panel discussion at KubeCon, a cloud architect shared an enlightening yet troubling story: “In an effort to enhance performance monitoring, our team integrated several new tracing tools into our microservices architecture. However, we didn’t anticipate the sheer volume of trace data these tools would generate. Within a month, our storage and data transfer costs had tripled, turning what was intended as a performance improvement initiative into a financial burden. This incident highlighted a critical oversight in our cost-management strategy and the need for a more balanced approach to tracing in cloud native environments.”
These narratives I heard while at KubeCon underscore the ease with which organizations can encounter unexpected financial burdens in their pursuit of comprehensive observability in cloud native applications. In the world of distributed microservices applications, companies are able to quickly scale and adapt to customer demand. But as we’ve seen from the tales I shared above, complexity comes with that power. Realizing cloud native benefits requires a cloud native observability approach that provides visibility and insights into every layer of your stack.