Software Engineering   Observability  

5 Ways Honeycomb Saves Time, Money, and Sanity

By Valerie Silverthorne  |   Last modified on May 18, 2023

There’s a reason everyone dreads debugging, especially in today’s complex cloud systems: it’s at the high stakes nexus of nervous senior management, overworked engineers, neverending rabbit holes, copious buckets of time, and fickle customers.

If debugging has sucked the soul out of your engineers, we’ve got the answer: event-based observability. Instead of spending hours and resources trying to find out why an alert is sounding, event-based observability can quickly surface the correct cause of any issue. Stop worrying about wasting time on dead ends (there won’t be any) and reproducing edge cases (because it’s easy to see exactly how a single user interacts with the system). Not only is event-based observability fast, it’s also context-rich; it offers enough data that anyone on the team is prepared and able to handle incident resolution. This helps free up specialists’ time and energy for more crucial projects. 

Here are five concrete ways teams can save time, money, and sanity using Honeycomb’s event-based approach to observability.

Faster incident response

Time is the most precious commodity modern software development teams possess, yet it is the easiest to lose track of. This is especially true when resolving incidents in production. Teams using an APM tool may feel they have an edge, but there’s a problem with that thinking. 

Monitoring works very well at alerting to issues teams know may occur, but what happens if the problem is something no one has ever seen before? It’s tempting to think those types of issues are rare, but between containers, hybrid clouds, and distributed systems, the chances of a “wow, look at that” problem have increased exponentially. While logs provide a detailed look at application data, they’re very time-consuming to search, lack standard formatting, and are difficult (and expensive!) to store. And time-series observability lacks the necessary context to make a quick diagnosis of a problem.

Event-based observability excels in finding the unknown because it lets teams ask questions and zoom in and out of the data to see all possible connections. Distributed tracing is at the heart of this type of observability, and ideally, these traces are built into the code as it’s written. Using distributed tracing, teams can see parent-child code connections, as well as detailed information and context for every event that happens—including configuration parameters and performance data. 

This is all made possible by Honeycomb’s ability to quickly analyze high-cardinality data. Users can query across billions of requests in seconds to find and investigate hidden patterns that lead to faster incident response.

And if all that doesn’t make the case, this will: time saved is money earned, according to The Total Economic Impact of Honeycomb, which is data from our customers put together by Forrester Consulting. The report found that typical Honeycomb customers saved $2 million thanks to faster response times. It also discovered teams had an additional $1.9 million in revenue due to “improved uptime, avoided outages, and better performance leading to increased consumption.”

System-wide context for the whole team

In many organizations, troubleshooting an incident requires experienced engineers who’ve “been there, done that” because the data points they’re working with in APM tools don’t offer much—or any—context. But with event-based observability and BubbleUp, Honeycomb’s answer to machine-assisted debugging, anyone on the team can quickly find and resolve issues. Users simply ask a question, click into the BubbleUp view, and highlight any interesting data points to automatically compare thousands of high-cardinality and high-dimensionality events, to highlight the biggest differences. Hint: the biggest difference is usually the culprit. 

To really drive home the point that anyone on the team can tackle this, our new Query Assistant is powered by generative AI to allow users to ask any arbitrary question in plain English. So, whether you’re brand new to a system or a seasoned pro, any engineer can jump in and get the answers they need to understand the system.

Furthermore, Honeycomb’s Service Level Objectives (SLOs) benefit from this highly-granular event data to calculate availability based on how individual customers experience your services. This is unlike traditional SLO implementations that use time-series data and often:

  • Over-emphasize the impact of small issues
  • Underestimate issues that don’t appear in aggregates
  • Can’t help teams identify and debug issues 

We know from personal experience that a thoughtful program of SLOs, tied to your key business objectives, can be incredibly profound—and dare we say, more powerful than monitoring alone. Every team should use SLOs to save time—and resources—during incident response

Understand what the user experiences in real time 

The moment code goes live can be fraught with anxiety. Even the best-written applications can experience unintended “consequences” in the real world of production. But with Honeycomb, developers gain insight into how individual (or cohorts of) users experience their systems, from pain points and bottlenecks to everything in between. 

Event-based observability makes it possible to find bugs before customers do. The ability to be proactive about potential incidents is a complete game changer internally (because top management won’t be fretting about churn and retention rates) and externally (because Forrester found Honeycomb customers had up to 40% less downtime). This means your team won’t find out about performance issues via Twitter, they’ll proactively prevent them with Honeycomb!

Improve work-life balance for engineers

It’s proven by academic research: happier developers are more productive. If your developers are mired in time-consuming incident resolution that requires jumping from tool to tool, working overtime because of problems, and spending time fighting fires, event-based observability is the answer. Now your most senior engineers won’t miss the baseball game with their family, and they’ll get a full night’s sleep because SLOs will eliminate the unnecessary 2:00 a.m. pager alerts. 

Good work-life balance also helps the bottom line: The Forrester report showed a typical organization saved $940,000 with Honeycomb thanks to reduced employee turnover and burnout rates. We’ll just leave this here: if you care about your developers’ mental health and well-being, it’s time to implement event-based observability.

Decrease the number of tools—and costs 

Forrester data found Honeycomb customers saved $422,000 by consolidating their toolchains and legacy offerings. Because event-based observability is the gift that keeps on giving, most Honeycomb users quickly realize they can slash toolchain sprawl and dependence on legacy solutions as by-products of embracing observability. 

Faster incident response, improved context, better UX understanding, more work-life balance… What are you waiting for? Book a demo and see how Honeycomb saves time, money, and sanity!

 

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