Observability vs. Monitoring: Differences, Significance, and Solution

The modern age of mobile experiences needs high-performance applications and systems with minimal downtimes. Having more uptime is key, and that’s why you need appropriate monitoring and observability tools.

The terms may sound similar but are hardly the same. While observability is seeing the big picture, monitoring is the quantitative approach of aggregating metrics. Both are essential for your system’s performance.

However, both monitoring and observability need aggregation, analysis and processing of key data related to metrics or events. According to an IDG survey, data volumes are growing at an alarming rate of 63% per month. So, you need a reliable solution for enhanced controllability and observability of systems.

Another aspect of understanding the difference between observability and monitoring is to customize your solution accordingly. For example, monitoring focuses on events while observability tracks data on a macroscopic level through the system’s output.

What is Observability?

Observability has recently become popular in IT and cloud computing. This concept is driven by control systems engineering. It is defined as the measurement of the system’s internal states determining the outputs in control system engineering.

Any system is observable only if the system’s present state can be defined through outputs in a specific period. So, the result of the function matters here. Every activity and behavior of the system is evaluated based on the output it produces. Similarly, if the output cannot convey the system’s behavior, it is deemed unobservable.

IT infrastructure and cloud-based applications record each activity and keep logs. Such records have information on applications, systems, servers, security, and other components. Therefore, the observability of an IT infrastructure depends on monitoring and analysis of key events recorded through these logs.

Apart from the events, monitoring key metrics and data from different components can offer actionable insights into the system’s behavior. In addition, organizations can leverage tools that offer controllability and observability of event logs for enhanced performance of their systems.

What is Monitoring?

Monitoring is a vigilant activity of tracking, analyzing, and recording significant events related to different components of an application. Modern app development processes have seamlessly integrated the service-based architecture to reduce repair time in case of incidents. They deploy concurrent services for higher availability.

While this is a great approach to overcome any shortcomings in terms of uptime, it becomes difficult to sustain the same efficiency as the application scales. Furthermore, due to higher scaling and integrations of several functions, application architecture becomes complex. So, several components need monitoring to ensure uniform performance.

As Google states, you need answers to simple questions like what is broken and why from your monitoring systems. Every monitoring system allows higher visibility to the system’s states through predefined metrics comparable to standards. Apart from the metrics, it also allows you to understand the root cause of system failure.

Monitoring Vs. Observability – Key Differences

When it comes to discussing observability vs. monitoring, it is the difference between seeing something and acting to achieve it. Any component is observable when the system offers data from within, while monitoring deals with the extraction of information from different resources across systems. However, you need to follow up on observability and monitoring activities without which both the processes are pointless.

If you consider the pyramid of robust application performance analysis, observability and monitoring are the pillars that together provide actionable intelligence. However, it is essential to understand that you can leverage one pillar for another to complete the process of controllability and observability.

For example, you can use a synthetic monitoring approach to extract data for an unobservable system or component. So, when you think of the entire observability vs. monitoring aspect of cloud assessments, it can be interoperable in specific use cases.

The data is offered within the system through outputInformation is extracted from event logs and records
Needs more experienced and skilled professionals for the execution of observabilityNeeds reliable monitoring tool for extraction, analysis, and processing of data
If output data fails to determine the behavior of the system, it is unobservableAny system can be monitored that has event records of logs
It relies on the output data rather than eventsIt relies on events rather than event logs or output data

Observability in DevOps

Imagine finding a needle in the haystack! That’s where the real difference between observability vs. monitoring comes into the picture. Monitoring is your go-to approach when looking closely at a microscopic level, like finding a needle in the haystack.

But, for a macroscopic overview, observability is the key in DevOps. Observability in DevOps offers the ability to formulate an overview of the system performance and health through the key metrics sourced by monitoring activities.

There are three significant components of observability in DevOps,

1. Logging– It records all the incidents that teams can leverage to 

  • learn important information on previous events, and 
  • accelerate the search for the leading cause of an error.

2. Tracing- It is an essential part of observability. Tracing establishes the relationship between the reason for errors and its impact. These traces are visualized through waterfall graphs to better understand different aspects like the time needed to trace the system.

3. Metrics- These are the quantitative data points that determine the pattern of errors and other such systems’ behavior over a period.

Observability offers a complete overview of the system along with actionable insights that help in data-driven decision-making. However, you need a reliable solution for efficient observability, and that is where Cloudlytics can help.

How Cloudlytics acts as a tool for observability?

Cloudlytics is the one-stop solution for all your observability needs without the hassle of relying on output data to determine the system’s behavior. It employs two intelligent tools to offer excellent observability.

The first is event analytics that enables monitoring and analysis of several system events. The second is an AI-based cloud intelligence engine that enables a complete overview of the system through more innovative and actionable insights.

Together they form an intelligent observability tool that enables,

  • System monitoring
  • Event tracing
  • Logging
  • Graphical overview
  • Data-driven insights


With the rapid adoption of cloud computing across business domains, the need for better controllability and observability will increase. First, however, you need to understand the difference between observability vs. monitoring to design an effective and efficient system for your business. The best way is to choose an intelligent observability tool from a monitoring solution provider like Cloudlytics and achieve optimal results.

SaaS Monitoring 101: Importance, Best Practices & Top Solution

Digital transformation is more than a necessity for organizations. Especially during the recent pandemic, many businesses needed reliable SaaS-based solutions to ensure remote capabilities. SaaS enables software delivery on-demand, through the internet for all businesses irrespective of scale. This approach enables organizations to

  • operate over the internet,
  • on multiple devices including mobile,
  • and leverage cloud services with minimal overheads and complexity.

With this innovative approach in mobile technology, you need to monitor the performance of applications for better results. The mobile SaaS market is booming and will reach $7.4 billion by the end of 2021. However, delivering a high-quality SaaS-based mobile experience is not easy and needs effective application performance monitoring.

So, here we will discuss SaaS monitoring, its importance, best practices to follow for optimal results, and the best solutions. Let’s start by understanding the fundamentals of SaaS monitoring platforms.

What is SaaS Monitoring?

SaaS monitoring is a practice to monitor the performance of SaaS-based applications, which allows organizations a complete overview of their system. Such a system can include cloud-based software, off-the-shelf software solutions, and even custom SaaS applications. Many organizations outsource their operational tasks leveraging third-party services from market giants like Salesforce or Microsoft 365.

Monitoring the performance of these operations can be challenging along with tracking of core services. A SaaS monitoring solution goes beyond your organization’s core services and offers a broader overview of software metrics related to your business.

What is the importance of Monitoring your SaaS Application?

SaaS application monitoring can help you optimize user experiences and offer real-time updates on the performance. While monitoring all your business services is crucial, SaaS monitoring needs to be thorough and data-driven for better performance enhancements.

Take an example of a SaaS-based CRM solution integrated into your organizational structure. Such a solution powers your sales and marketing, enhances customer support, and improves user engagement. Imagine the SaaS-based CRM application having downtime. Customers finding customer support systems down will lead to higher churn rates.

Several organizations that leverage DevOps to improve the efficiency and productivity of their systems rely on Saas-based solutions. However, outsourcing development tasks enable businesses to reduce the mean time to repair and improve deployment times of software; lack of monitoring can make a massive dent in their budget with higher costs.

You have a service level agreement to ensure that the solution delivers performance as per pre-defined standards. This is why you need a SaaS monitoring tool that can provide results and analytics with information that is compared with standards for understanding efficiency.

A SaaS monitoring tool goes beyond monitoring your application’s in-built tool, which is restricted to the SLA service provider’s network. The best part about SaaS monitoring is that it provides real-time information on software components, features, user’s browsers and even suggests recommendations for troubleshooting.

SaaS Monitoring Best Practices

When it comes to SaaS application monitoring, having a proper strategy can ensure higher accuracy. You need to define metrics and have standards in place to compare monitoring results for better performance analysis.

Going Past Need

When you are building a SaaS application monitoring plan, you need to think past the fundamental requirements. The first thing to keep in mind is the exact impact of performance on business activities. Your SaaS monitoring plan needs to have measures to reduce downtime, latency, and errors that can disrupt operations.

How can factors like latency or downtime impact the business, and what are critical components affecting them? These are the questions you need to have answers ready to formulate a SaaS monitoring plan.

Another essential aspect of the SaaS monitoring plan is to understand the impact of such a process on different project stages, the scalability of the application, and even capacity testing.

Early Strategy

Strategizing early for SaaS monitoring is essential for the adoption of cloud-based services and environments.  Furthermore, tracking compatibility issues is difficult without a proper strategy for monitoring, leading to refactoring problems and higher costs.

One of the most important strategies is to leverage service level indicators (SLI). Based on the SLIs and adoption plans, you can establish objectives specific to higher availability and performance. With a SaaS monitoring strategy targeted towards these objectives, it becomes easy to track SLIs related to uptime and performance of applications.

Tier Level Management

SaaS solutions are often provided in a tiered model where tenants have access to different tier experiences. So, you need to build an architecture that will help monitor and control experiences at each tier level.

However, this practice is not just about maximizing the performance but also adjusting the consumption of computing resources. Thus, even if you have a robust system that can handle multiple loads of these tenants, you may choose to control resource allocation for some of these tiers based on specific business needs.

Here, you can integrate the SaaS monitoring tool with a throttling function that can control the computational power allocation as per need to different tiers. You can also configure functions for concurrency invocations for better performance triggered through SaaS monitoring platforms.

Data flow & Metrics Integrations

When your network exists across environments from multiple vendors, it becomes essential for  SaaS network monitoring tools to treat data from different resources equally. Configuring your SaaS monitoring platforms to integrate data flows can help you generate a uniform metric presentation that enables a complete overview of the system.

Let’s take an example of the deployment of a document repository application on a hybrid cloud. What components will you need to monitor if your employees need to access the application from offices physically and remotely while at home?

Here are some of the major components to monitor through the SaaS log monitoring platform.

Local datacenters- Your applications are hosted on a cloud environment with several core services with a localized version of the app store on the on-premise datacenter. So, you need to monitor local datacenters to measure the performance of core services, compliance, and security.

Network-  Leverage SaaS network monitoring to ensure seamless connection, latency, errors, and encryptions for safe data access

Trigger Functions- You need to measure the response of trigger functions to ensure that there is no delay in the execution of user requests.

Apart from all these best practices, you will also need advanced Monitoring as a Service(MaaS) for your projects. It is a solution that will help you with several tools for monitoring applications, servers, systems, or any other IT asset. For example, Cloudlytics’ Monitoring as a Service solution provides SaaS monitoring capabilities. Let’s understand how it helps with SaaS monitoring.

How Cloudlytics helps monitor your SaaS?

Cloudlytics is a SaaS monitoring platform that offers excellent tools to track all the essential metrics related to your application. The best part about Cloudlytics is its cloud intelligence engine which enables intelligent analytics and monitoring. The engine employs Artificial Intelligence algorithms to allow features like,

  • Asset inventory automation
  • Structural resource mapping
  • Vulnerability and security assessment
  • Compliance mapping
  • Virtual network diagram
  • Graphical analytics and comprehensive dashboard

Another aspect that Cloudlytics excels in is offering a complete overview of SaaS applications and systems deployed across multiple vendor environments.


Performance, security and uptime are essential to successful business growth, especially in cloud adoption. So, SaaS monitoring becomes necessary for your systems to analyze the metrics and make changes quickly. Solutions like MaaS from Cloudlytics can provide you with advanced SaaS monitoring tools that enable higher business agility.

Also Read: What is SaaS Security?

Basics of Apache Logging: A Definitive Guide

The need for an easy-to-use platform to log application data is exploding. Everyone wants to capture data about their users and their products. Apache Logging lets you do that easily, reliably, and at scale. This post captures everything related to including configuration and Apache log examples. Read on.

What is Apache Logging?

Apache Logging is an open-source project created to allow users to examine their logs efficiently. Apache Logging allows users to extract data from their log files and store it in other formats like CSV or XML. It also provides functions for comparing two different versions of the same log file.

The Apache Logging project is a software library that implements a logging service. It provides developers with a way to create and control logs, enabling them to see what is happening with the code.

Apache Logging services provide access to logs in a way that is easy for humans to read. The logs are stored in log files, which consist of messages showing the date and time, the server’s hostname, and the IP address of any client who requests a document.

Pick any Apache logs example you will find that they are used for debugging, tracing, monitoring and diagnostics. The logs can be used for testing, performance tuning, system administration, and even security analysis.

The Apache Logging project is the official successor of the Jakarta Commons Logging project. This open-source project contains log4j, a widely used tool for logging application behavior. It also contains the SLF4J API, which provides a framework for other loggers and allows them to be plugged into applications that use various other libraries, such as Apache Commons Logging or Google’s Guava.

How do I Enable Apache Logging

Apache Logging is typically a mechanism in a web server that allows users to track server activity. It can be enabled on your web server. Once enabled, it will start to log all the HTTP requests made by your visitors. It is a very handy feature of the Apache Webserver. It logs all the requests and responses and provides the ability to analyze the traffic in real-time. This helps you troubleshoot issues in your system quickly.

To enable Apache Logging, you need to configure a few directives in the webserver configuration file.

To enable Apache HTTP access logs, first you need to open HTTP configuration of Apache at /Applications/MAMP/conf/apache/httpd.conf

Next, find the code

#CustomLog logs/access_log combined

Replace this code with

CustomLog /Applications/MAMP/logs/apache_access_log combined

This will make sure all your access logs are logged in your default log directory, with the “Log Format” named “Combined”. This log format has some standard conventions.

Once done, restart your Apache server with the MAMP widget. You can also restart using the command line

$ /Applications/MAMP/bin/apache2/bin/apachectl restart

It is important to remember that if you enable the log directory, all your data will be written to /Applications/MAMP/Library/logs/access_log. This is not desirable. It is always ideal to store the access logs to /Applications/MAMP/logs/. This is where you could find MySQL, Apache error log, and PHP logs.

Types of Apache Logs 

Apache log structure is very flexible and easy to manage. There are two types of logs: Access logs and Error logs. 

Access Log

This is where all the information about the requests coming to the webserver is noted. Apache access log response time is also measured. The information can be anything like pages visited by the audience, requests success rate, and time is taken for the server to respond to the requests. To manage request logging, you need to be familiar with three configuration directories: LogFormat, CustomLog, and TransferLog.

Various other directories were available, but as Apache kept upgrading, these directories were deprecated. CustomLog can now achieve all the functions that these directories do. Few deprecated directories are RefererLog, CookieLog, RefererIgnore, and AgentLog.

Error Log

The information on errors encountered by the server during processing is found in the error log. It contains information on events unrelated to request serving and includes the diagnostics information about the server. The error log also contains the information that the access log doesn’t. Here is some log information that the error log offers:

  • Different informational messages
  • Critical Events
  • Errors that occurred during request servicing (status 400-503)
  • Standard error output
  • Startup and shutdown messages

The error log has a standard format. Every line contains three fields: time, error level, and messages. You can also get some raw data in the error logs during some rare instances. These logs are created by using the ErrorLog directory configuration. 

Log Locations

The storage location of the error log and access log files depends on your operating system. Both these files are stored as separate entities on the server. Let’s have a look at the default storage location for various operating systems. 

Note: To change the apache log directory, use the #grep command.

  • Linux Mint / Debian / Ubuntu

For the unencrypted sites, the httpd log file location in Linux is /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf. Similarly for the encrypted sites with SSL/TLS protection, the httpd log file location in Linux is /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl.conf.

Here are the default derivatives for Linux OS –

SettingConfig FileValue/Path
Access Log/etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.confCustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined
Log Level/etc/apache2/apache2.confWarnLogFormat “%v:%p %h %l %u %t “%r” %>s %O “%{Referer}i” “%{User-Agent}i”” vhost_combinedLogFormat “%h %l %u %t “%r”
Error Log/etc/apache2/apache2.confwarnErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
Custom Log/etc/apache2/conf-available/other-vhosts-access-log.confCustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/other_vhosts_access.log vhost_combined
Log Format/etc/apache2/apache2.conf%>s %O “%{Referer}i” “%{User-Agent}i”” combinedLogFormat “%h %l %u %t “%r” %>s %O” commonLogFormat “%{Referer}i -> %U” refererLogFormat “%{User-agent}i” agent
  • CentOS / RedHat / Fedora

The main configuration file for the Red Hat distribution is located at /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf. The additional Virtual host config files can be placed in the directory /etc/httpd/conf.d. This directory is automatically read at the start by the server. Here are the default directives.

SettingConfig FileValue/Path
Access Log/etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf/var/log/httpd/access_log
Error Log/etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf/var/log/httpd/error_log
Log Level/etc/httpd/conf/httpd.confwarn
Custom Log/etc/httpd/conf/httpd.confCustomLog “logs/access_log” combined
  • OpenSUSE

Similarly, for the OpenSUSE Operating system, the default configuration for encrypted sites can be found at /etc/apache2/default-vhost-ssl.conf. The default virtual host config for the unencrypted sites can be found at /etc/apache2/default-vhost.conf. Here are the default directives – 

SettingConfig FileValue/Path
Access Log/etc/apache2/sysconfig.d/global.conf/var/log/apache2/access_log
Custom Log/etc/apache2/sysconfig.d/global.confCustomLog /var/log/apache2/access_log combined
Error Log/etc/apache2/httpd.conf/var/log/apache2/error_log
Log Level/etc/apache2/sysconfig.d/global.confwarn

Configuring Apache Error and Access Logs 

In the Apache framework, you have high flexibility to adjust the logging behaviour both globally or for each file of the vhost. There are various directives that you can use to change the Apache log directory behaviour. The most common are log level and log format directives.

Log Level directive

The main feature of the log level directive is to determine the minimum security level for the events that are logged to a specific destination. The importance level of an event can range from “Emerg” to “Trace8”. This typically represents the severity level. An event with the “Emerg” level might lead to instability, whereas the “Trace8” level provides trace level messages. Apache change log level can be altered according to your requirement.

Log Format

The layout and formatting of log events are controlled by the Log format directive. The default Apache log format is CLF (Common Log Format). But Apache gives you the flexibility to change fields included in each log by enabling you to specify your format string. These are a few default CLF:

Log Format “%h %l %u %t \”%r\” %>s %b”

The format string is represented in the first parameter. It indicates the information regarding the log file and the written format of the log file. To decipher the log format, refer to the documentation provided by Apache. These are a few standard logging strings formats – 

Format StringDescription
%%Percentage Sign
%…aRemote IP Address
%…ALocal IP Address
%…BBytes size for response (Excluding HTTP)
%…bBytes size for response (Excluding HTTP), Instead of Zero a dash (-) is used
%…DTime to serve (microseconds)
%…fName of the File
%…hRemote host
%…HRequest protocol
%…PProcess ID

These five fields are recommended as they are crucial for troubleshooting issues and monitoring server health – 

  1. %>s: Requests HTTP status code. The final request after internal redirection is shown.
  2. %U: The requested URL path excluding the additional query string is displayed.
  3. %a: This is used to identify the traffic from a particular source. It displays the IP of the client who is making the request.
  4. %T: Time taken to process the request in seconds. It is useful to measure the speed of the site.
  5. %{Name}e: It is also known as request ID. On every request, it will log a unique identifier. This is primarily useful for tracking requests from your Apache server to your web server.


It is the basic request logging directive. It creates an access log with filename

TransferLog /var/www/logs/access_log

The TransferLog directive uses CLF by default; it records every log request on single line information. If the LogFormat directive was previously used in a configuration file, the TransferLog directive would utilize that format instead of the default CLF format.


This is the most powerful directive. Most of the time, it can replace the TransferLog directive and can be used alternatively. The CustomLog filename looks similar to that of TransferLog – 

CustomLog /var/www/logs/access_log custom

By default, Apache uses CLF. However, it doesn’t record many request parameters. To overcome this problem, the developers should at least change the configuration to a combined format. This configuration includes the Referer and UserAgent fields.

Apache Error Log Location 

The Error Log configuration directive is located in the main folder of the server. It can be accessed from the following location – 

ErrorLog /var/www/logs/error_log

The LogLevel directive makes sure that more information than necessary is not stored in the log. Typically, error logs are defined by various levels; all the levels above the specific level will be written to the log. The default level is set to warn.

alertTo act immediately (Alerts)
critCritical Conditions
errorMessage of Error
warnMessage of Warning
noticeSignificant condition but Normal
infoInformational Message
debugDebugging information

Apache error log is a wonderful guide that lets you know if something bad has happened. But it does not have enough information like host details and the location of the error. In short, it fails to describe the error information.

Log Related Modules

The Apache web server offers many modules that can help you change the way Apache works or let you extend the Apache capabilities. Let’s have a peek at a few modules that help you add or change the logging behaviour – 


This is an experimental module that might not be available in your Apache distribution. This module provides additional features for logging the debug messages. 


It is used to enable logging before and after the processing of a request. The developer can easily trace the events between the forensic log and normal log as every entry is assigned with a unique ID. The downside being custom formats are not supported by forensic loggers.

You should use forensic keywords to specify the forensic log of specific log files. This should be done after enabling the module. To add forensic data to normal logs, the LogFormat string %{forensic-id} pattern can also be used.

The forensic logs usually start with either a + or – symbol. The entry log for a particular request is represented as +, and the following entries for the same request are indicated by -.


To measure the number of bytes used to send and receive a request, this module can be utilized. It displays three values: bytes received, sent, and transferred (Addition of both send and received). Also, changes in the size of the requests due to SSL and TLS encryption can be accurately accounted for. This module is by default included in Apache.

Also, Mod_logio can track the Time to First Byte (TTFB). This is enabled by the LogIOTrackTTFB on|off directive.


This module offers several filter providers that are context-sensitive to the output chain. It is not specifically used for logging; it is rather used for extracting specific requests based on the filters. Many Apache packages offer this module at default, but few modules may require enabling. 


1. How to turn off verbose logging apache-spark 

You need to modify the spark logging config file

  • Go to the Spark home folder.
  • To access all configuration files, navigate to subfolder conf.
  • Create a new log4j.properties file from the existing template file of log4j.properties.template.
  • Edit the default logging to warn in log4j.properties.

2. How to tell where Apache is logging?

We have already discussed the default storing directory for all the OS. In case you have changed your directory, this is how you can find where the Apache is logging using the command grep

  • #grep CustomLog /usr/local/etc/apache2/httpd.conf

3. How to turn on rewrite logging Apache?

To enable mod_rewrite in your Apache (XAMPP, WAMP) follow these steps

  • Navigate to httpd.conf and open it in a text editor.
  • Enable the mod_rewrite command by removing the ‘#’ placed before the command line.
  • Restart your WAMP or XAMPP server

4. How To Add Apache Common Logging API Into Tomcat Server?

To configure an alternative mode of logging in to Tomcat Server, we need to replace the existing JULI implementation with the intended common logging mechanism. 

  • Download Tomcat’s existing hard-coded JCL support mechanism from Apache Tomcat server. 
  • To download, use command -f extras.xml to retrieve tomcat-juli.jar and tomcat-juli-adapters.jar
  • Copy the downloaded files to “$CATALINA_HOME/bin/”.
  • Once done, retrieve the project logger and insert log4jx.y.z.jar in “$CATALINA_HOME/lib”. 
  • Next, create a log4j.properties in “$CATALINA_HOME/lib

5. How To Add Apache Common Logging API Into Java Web?

The process to add Apache Common Logging API into Java Web is the same as above. Apache Common Logging allows extensibility with other environments with Log4j. You must configure the log4j by the same process as mentioned in the previous answer, but write the same in Java Web. 

  1. How To Encrypt Apache Access_logs?

Archived Apache Access_logs can be encrypted with access_log.1.g.gpg. However, this may not work for active log files. To encrypt them, we need to use the same gpg function and modify it to make the file a part of the logrotate configuration.

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