Observability is my specialty!

Through my career as a software engineer, manager and executive a common love of observability has been present.

Observability is more than monitoring and charts. Observability is a measure for how well internal states of a system can be inferred by knowledge of its external outputs. In other words, if you don’t have sensors — metrics, logs, etc — that help you understand how your service is working then you can’t tell if things are going wrong!

I’ve spent a lot of my time learning as much as I can about this subject as well as applying my knowledge to the things I work on. My earliest efforts were a homegrown monitoring tool that I keep on GitHub for posterity.

Open Source Work

Visualization

My frustration with charting tools of the day lead me to create my own: a marvelous Perl module called Chart::Clicker. Over years of development I honed my understanding of visualizations needed for performance and health data. My most recent endeavors are in a hobby Javascript library called Clack meant to explore the best mix of performance and usability.

Professional Work

After joining Twitter in 2012 I quickly found my calling in the Observability team. I learned, maintained and created some marvelous stuff in that role. My next gig at Keen IO was not specifically observability, but after the lessons learned at Twitter making sure that Keen’s systems were as observable as possible was a focus of my work.

I joined Stripe in 2015 I created an Observability team and worked to change Stripe’s culture such that observing our systems was a core concern. In that role I created Veneur, setup an entirely new observability stack with minimal interruption, and contributed to large improvements in reliability and confidence at Stripe. My team is working every day to create better observability tools and products for Stripe’s engineers and customers.

I’m often asked by investors to discuss my thoughts of new or existing monitoring products, and I enjoy speaking about these tools with others both to learn and provide my thoughts. I’ve also participated on customer advisory boards, representing my engineering teammates and learning challenges from vendors.

Speaking

Conference Talks

I speak regularly and conferences across the country promoting observability and thoughtful, empathetic operations.

Here’s a talk from Monitorama 2016:

Monitorama PDX 2016 - Cory Watson - Creating A Culture of Observability at Stripe from Monitorama on Vimeo.

Here are the slides if you prefer to flip through them rather than listen to me talk.

Podcasts

In March of 2017 I spoke with Software Engineering Daily about my observability work at Stripe.

Future

I hope to continue learning, teaching and pushing Observability in to the future. I feel that it is essential to the technical and social well-being of technology companies by keeping operations and teams in tip-top shape!