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Open Observability Day 2022


Why Large-Scale Observability Needs Graph

Richard Benwell, SquaredUp


How do we make use of the increasing volume of observability data that we collect? Observability was inspired by control theory, but current observability solutions are missing a key element of that theory: the system model. We can’t understand the state of the system, or ‘answer unknown unknowns’ if we don’t know how the system works. We’re drowning in data but starved of answers. Graphs (think social network graph, not line graph) allow to understand how things are connected, and a new trend of graph databases including neo4j, AWS Neptune and Azure Cosmos have taken graph technology mainstream. This talk looks at early signs of how the observability community are beginning to leverage graph concepts – including Jaeger service graph, Backstage service catalog and eBay’s Groot (root cause analysis) tool – and some of the opportunities and challenges around how observability data can reveal more answers with graph.

Presentation Deck



Richard Benwell
Founder & CEO, SquaredUp

With a passion for technology, data and design, Richard founded SquaredUp in 2011 to use data visualization to make sense of the mountain of operational data that technology teams collect. Over the last 10 years Richard and the team at SquaredUp have worked with some of the world’s largest organizations to surface their operational and observability data, and know that dashboards aren’t the answer. Today, Richard is actively researching how graph technology can be leveraged to put observability data into context, and is championing an open graph standard for describing observable entities.