How to implement observability with Elasticsearch

3 steps for planning an observable Java application deployment and how to implement it with Elastic Observability

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Out of the box and without any code changes you will see detailed performance information on response time for incoming requests, database queries, calls to caches, external HTTP requests, JVM metrics, errors, and more. This makes it easy to pinpoint and fix performance problems quickly. To add custom spans, see the documentation.

Elastic Common Schema

The Elastic Common Schema is a powerful way to correlate information from multiple sources. It specifies a common set of fields for logs and metrics that is used by all of the Elastic Beats, and it is extendable by you. By adopting the Elastic Common Schema in the Spring Boot app, the logs are both clear and consistent with the other data sources we are ingesting. This helps correlate a record from the application log with a database metric and an APM trace. You can read about logging best practices for Java apps and watch a video showing a Spring Boot application getting a logging overhaul.

Put it all together

In this article I covered several ways of collecting data from and about your application and the infrastructure. You can do the same and see logs, metrics, synthetic testing of your APIs, APM traces, and more. Earlier I said that you should not limit yourself in the type and amount of data that you bring in; decide what will help you prevent downtime and expand your list of sources. In future articles I will go into topics like alerting, machine learning, and bringing in custom data sources.

If you want to discuss what I have shown, head to and start a conversation. Pop @DanRoscigno in the post and I will try to help.

I also skipped over “When you page me in the middle of the night you will give me the info I need to find the problem” from the goals, and a few other things that should be part of every project. In a future article I will write about building service level dashboards, best practices for ingest with Beats, alerting, and real user monitoring. In the meantime, see the links.

Finally, if you’re ready to try it out yourself, the easiest way to get started is to take advantage of the free 14-day trial of the Elasticsearch Service on Elastic Cloud — the official hosted Elasticsearch offering from Elastic, which includes Kibana. If you prefer, you can also download Elasticsearch and Kibana to run on your laptop or deploy in a data center. Free hands-on training to build your skills is available at There is a group of observability related courses listed, and I would also suggest the Kibana course on that page as it walks you through creating your own visualizations.

Dan Roscigno is a customer success manager focused on bringing decades of operations experience to customers in webinars, videos, tutorials, and documentation. He has been an EMT, sysadmin, developer, tech lead in operations, consultant, learning content developer, and a product marketing manager. He loves to make ops less stressful. Contact him on Twitter or @DanRoscigno.

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