Through my career as a software engineer, manager and executive common theme of observability.

Observability is more than monitoring and charts. Observability is a collection of techniques and tools that aim to improve understanding of complex systems. Highly observable systems should have improved ergonomics for operators, allowing them to more quickly grasp the impact of changes and the contributors to incidents. 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!

Open Source Work

Professional Work

After joining Twitter in 2012 I quickly found my calling in the Observability team. My Observability at Twitter post was the first mention of “observability” in this context. (The team existed before me, I was just the one to share it outside of Twitter!)

Upon joining Stripe in 2015 I created and led an observability team and worked to change Stripe’s culture such that observing our systems was a core concern. I led the creation of an entirely new observability stack with minimal interruption, managed and changed vendors a few times, and contributed to large improvements in reliability and confidence at Stripe through both observability tooling and incident process.

In 2019 I joined SignalFx as a Technical Director. My role is a mix of advocacy, customer engagement, and product improvement. Late in 2019 SignalFx was acquired by Splunk.

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.

Writing

Speaking

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

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.

There are also versions of this talk from:

AWS Loft 2019:

I gave at talk at the New York AWS Loft office called “Demystifying Observability” for startups. It’s a combination of beginner info and practical advice for how observability can help you even when you’re just getting started.

Monitorama PDX 2019:

I had the pleasure of giving a 5 minute “vendor talk” at Monitorama PDX 2019. These talks are sometimes product pitches, but more often they are just a chance to speak about something important/interesting for the attendees and maybe mention your product. I decided to talk about how to think about observability tooling inspired by John Allpaw’s “An Open Letter to Monitoring/Metrics/Alerting Companies”.

Monitorama Baltimore 2019:

I spoke about a Dashboard Renaissance, or techniques and processes for making dashboards a more helpful part of your observability and monitoring work. Slides are here.

KubeCon US 2019:

Originally conceived as a set of lessons from my personal role purchasing tools to my job at a vendor where I work with dozens of customers making the same decisions. This talk covers 6 different ways to improve your stance on observability from a social perspective.

SREcon20 Americas

Incidents are an amazing source of education, but we often fail to incorporate the findings into our observability tooling. This talk provides methods for doing just that, with a bit of help from my friends at Jeli.

Podcasts

Other

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!