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Observability Glossary


Observability is the art of understanding how a system behaves by adding instrumentation such as logs, metrics, and traces.


Metrics are a numerical measurement of something in your application such as the number of requests or the response time. Metrics are much better suited for for dashboards and alerts compared to logs.


Prometheus is a time-series database that is used to store and query metrics from Grafana.


Alertmanager is a component of Prometheus that is used to create and manage Slack alerts based on the metrics collected by Prometheus.


Grafana is a tool for creating application dashboards and visualizing data such as metrics, traces, and logs in a user-friendly way.


Traces are a record of the path a request takes through your application. They are useful for understanding how a request is processed across multiple internal and external services.


A span represents a single unit of work in a Trace, like a SQL query or an HTTP call to an API.


Each Span carries a Context that includes metadata about the trace (like a unique trace identifier and span identifier) and any other data you choose to include. This context is propagated across process boundaries, allowing all the work that's part of a single trace to be linked together, even if it spans multiple services.

Grafana Tempo

Grafana Tempo is a storage and query system for traces in Grafana.


OpenTelemetry is the standard for instrumenting your application for observability. It provides APIs, libraries, agents, and instrumentation to capture distributed traces, metrics and logs from your application.


Logs are a record of what has happened in your application. They are useful for debugging, but due to their unstructured format they generally do not scale very well. Use metrics for dashboards and alerts and traces for understanding how a request is processed across multiple services.

Grafana Loki

Grafana Loki is a storage and query system for logs in Grafana.


Kibana is a tool for visualizing logs. It is often used in combination with Elasticsearch to create dashboards and alerts.


Elasticsearch is a search engine that is used to store logs.