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Data Observability

Tue Apr 18 2023

Why is NATS Observability Important?


Daniel Selans

Microservice-based architectures and event-driven systems rely on efficient communication between components. Just as important is the ability to observe distributed communications to gain insight into application performance, identify potential bugs and errors, and ensure data compliance. 

In this article, we will take a closer look at NATS messaging, how it improves observability in distributed systems, and how Streamdal can further enhance NATS observability.

What is NATS Messaging?

NATS is an open-source messaging and streaming system that provides secure, high-performance distributed messaging. It supports a range of message distribution methods such as traditional pub-sub messaging (publish-subscribe), subject-based messaging (using subjects or topics), and request-reply messaging.

It’s worth noting that NATS is both a streaming and messaging service, in contrast to a tool like Kafka, which only supports streaming. Kafka can be used for messaging, but it lacks the rich messaging features of purpose-built messaging solutions like NATS and RabbitMQ. 

NATS messaging is widely used to simplify and improve the performance of distributed communication within microservices architectures. Instead of multiple microservices communicating directly with each other in a point-to-point model, NATS provides a central server or cluster to which microservices can publish messages. NATS ensures these messages are delivered to relevant microservices using either an at-most-once or at-least-once delivery model, depending on the service's requirements.

NATS Observability Explained

Observability refers to the ability to understand a complex system's internal state based on external outputs. In IT environments where numerous interconnected components are involved—such as microservices architectures—observability enables teams to proactively detect problems by observing and analyzing messages generated by various components, allowing developers and DevOps professionals to answer questions standard monitoring techniques cannot address.

How Does NATS Messaging Improve Observability?

NATS Messaging contributes significantly towards enhancing observability in distributed systems. The platform supports observable services along with event and data streams that provide insight into application component behavior and system health. That insight is invaluable for detecting issues early before they escalate into critical problems. By providing a robust messaging infrastructure with built-in observability features, NATS allows developers to focus on building modern applications while avoiding complex communication challenges within distributed environments.

Streamdal and NATS Observability

Streamdal provides visibility into real-time data at any scale for distributed systems using Kafka, RabbitMQ, NATS messaging, and other streaming and messaging solutions. It empowers users to visualize, monitor, alert, and fix data issues while supporting additional functionalities such as anomaly detection and dead letter queue management.

By integrating Streamdal with NATS messaging systems businesses can:

  • View all data that passes through their NATS system
  • Add instant compliance with PII detection
  • Deliver complex features faster and improve service level objectives (SLOs) by leveraging monitors and comprehensive operability on data
  • Gain insights into system health by identifying potential bottlenecks or areas requiring optimization
  • Reduce CDC and ETL SaaS expense by preparing and scoping data

Observability plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal performance levels within distributed systems with numerous interconnected components. As an open-source messaging technology designed specifically for these environments, NATS offers several advantages—including built-in observability features—that simplify communication challenges faced by developers working on modern applications. 

Alongside your existing NATS messaging infrastructure, Streamdal can further enhance the overall performance, observability, and reliability of your production and development environments.

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Daniel Selans


Dan is the co-founder and CTO of Streamdal. Dan is a tech industry veteran with 20+ years of experience working as a principal engineer at companies like New Relic, InVision, Digital Ocean and various data centers. He is passionate about distributed systems, software architecture and enabling observability in next-gen systems.

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Wed May 31 2023

Why Use Anomaly Detection for Streaming Data?


Ustin Zarubin

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