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What is Telemetry Data? How Does It Work, Benefits, Challenges, and Examples

Jun 28, 2024 / 17 minute read

Explore telemetry data: learn how it functions, what advantages it provides, and the challenges it faces. Additionally, see relevant real world examples which utilize telemetry data.

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Efficient system management is critical for maintaining dependable, high-performance IT systems that can scale as businesses expand. According to a study by Gartner, organizations that invest in advanced system management tools can reduce system downtime by up to 80%. 

Businesses can benefit from efficient system management in a variety of ways, including:

  • Operational efficiency 

  • Performance optimization

  • Flexibility

  • Enhanced security

  • Minimized downtime

Telemetry data is critical in system optimization. By enabling real-time monitoring, performance tuning, and predictive maintenance, it gives detailed information about how the system works, helping to make intelligent decisions and allocate resources well.

This strategic use of telemetry data supports IT systems' overall health, performance, and security, aligning with business objectives. Discover more about telemetry, including how it functions, its advantages and challenges, and examples in this article.


Key Takeaways:

  • Telemetry allows for real-time system and process monitoring and anomaly detection.

  • Telemetry is inherently continuous and automated, optimizing for security in numerous ways.

  • Telemetry monitoring tools include detailed dashboards which visualize real-time system performance.

  • The collection of telemetry data from multiple endpoints can raise privacy concerns, particularly if the associated data contains sensitive information about users or their activities.

  • Telemetry monitoring tools manage complex technology environments by improving system performance, security, and operational efficiency.


How Does Telemetry Data Work?

Telemetry is the automatic data collection and transmission from remote or inaccessible sources to an IT system. It helps enterprise users reveal areas or features where they frequently encounter errors or slowdowns in their software or platform.

Telemetry data includes all logs, metrics, events, and traces your applications produce. It is critical to visualize and report on this data without gaps that compromise the accuracy of your troubleshooting or analysis.

With telemetry, administrators can collect a wide array of data types, such as:

  • Log data

  • Trace data

  • Event data

  • Operational data

  • Performance data

Below are the three main components of the telemetry process:

  • Collect: utilizes sensors to gather data from remote or inaccessible locations.

  • Transmit: sends the collected data to a central system using radio, satellite, or internet protocols for real-time communication.

  • Measure: analyzes and interprets telemetry data to determine trends, assess performance, or trigger alerts based on specific criteria.

Telemetry data isn't just for software development. It's used in a host of other industries, including meteorology, healthcare, aerospace, and more. By harnessing telemetry data, organizations can improve customer experiences, monitor security, and enhance application health, quality, and performance.

Telemetry is the key to real-time monitoring of systems and processes. It's what allows for the immediate detection of anomalies or issues. These real-time insights into system performance and health are crucial for improving and securing operations.

Constant monitoring enables immediate detection and response to inefficiencies and threats, which improves performance, security, and the user experience. Furthermore, real-time monitoring helps with:

  • Proactive problem-solving

  • Minimize downtime by addressing issues promptly

  • Cost management by identifying inefficient processes

  • Data-driven decisions that maintain service quality

  • Accommodate scalability as organizations grow

Measuring Telemetry

Telemetry monitoring tools are specialized software applications designed to collect, process, and display telemetry data from various sources. These tools can range from simple dashboards that provide real-time insights to complex systems capable of predictive analytics.

Key features of effective telemetry monitoring tools include:

  • Real-time data processing—immediate data processing and visualization to find anomalies and trends as they occur.

  • Scalability—ability to handle increasing volumes of data from different sources without performance degradation.

  • Integration capabilities—integration with existing systems and platforms to centralize data analysis.

  • Alerting mechanism—automated alerts based on predefined thresholds to prompt quick action.

Tracking Metrics Across Different Components

Telemetry data must be tracked across various components in complex systems to ensure comprehensive monitoring. The data tracking is typically managed through integrated software systems that correlate and analyze data from multiple sources. These systems monitor and analyze the entire system by normalizing and aggregating metrics across components.

Here’s how telemetry is measured across various data types:

1. Metrics Measurement

Metrics are quantitative insights into the performance of a system. Common examples include:

  • CPU usage

  • Memory usage

  • Response times

  • Error rates

Telemetry monitoring tools typically collect data regularly for real-time monitoring and long-term performance analysis. They employ agents that periodically query systems or APIs to gather metrics data. These metrics are exported for analysis in a central location.

2. Log data collection

Logs are records of events within a system that are measured through loggers and configuration. These files provide a complete event history for debugging and troubleshooting. Logs can include a wide variety of information, such as:

  • Errors

  • System status

  • Transaction histories

3. Event tracking

It involves recording user actions or occurrences within a system, usually used in web analytics and application monitoring. Some examples are:

  • Tracking clicks

  • Page views

  • Interactions within an app

Event tracking helps understand user behavior and interactions with the system, which can be crucial for improving UX and optimizing conversions.

4. Custom data sources

Organizations often create custom measurement methods for unique telemetry needs. This involves developing scripts or utilizing APIs to gather data from specific applications or devices. Custom scripts and data collection tools are commonly employed to cater to specialized data requirements.

5. Sensor data collection

Telemetry data from IoT or environmental sensors, such as temperature and humidity, is collected using Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT) or HTTP protocols. This data is then sent to a central receiver or an IoT platform for further analysis. Devices (such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino) or specialized IoT platforms can both facilitate collection and processing of this sensor data.

6. Tracing and Distributed Systems Measurement

In distributed systems, tracing data is captured using specialized libraries and instrumentation designed for distributed tracing, such as OpenTelemetry and Zipkin. These tools are embedded within microservices or other system components to record trace data.

They track the path of requests through different services, documenting latency and dependencies within the distributed architecture. This process helps analyze and improve the flow and performance across interconnected services.

Benefits of Measuring Telemetry

The benefits of measuring telemetry are significant and varied across industries:

  • Predictive Maintenance: By monitoring equipment conditions, organizations can predict failures before they happen. This proactive approach cuts downtime and maintenance costs, which many industries value.

  • Performance Optimization: Real-time data helps optimize the performance of systems and processes, enhancing productivity.

  • Enhanced Safety: In critical environments like healthcare or aerospace, telemetry continuously monitors systems and health metrics, improving safety.

  • Data-Driven Decisions: Access to real-time and historical telemetry data allows companies to make informed decisions, which can impact operational efficiencies and outcomes.

  • Resource Management: Telemetry enables better management of resources by providing detailed insights into usage patterns and system efficiencies.

Telemetry plays a crucial role in modern technological landscapes by enabling remote monitoring and management of systems, enhancing operational capabilities, and providing strategic advantages.


Did You Know?

The healthcare sector's increased need for remote digital patient monitoring systems is one of the key drivers of the telemetry market, which was estimated to be worth USD 120.66 billion in 2023. Telemetry revenue is expected to grow at an 8.2% CAGR from 2024 to 2030, at which point it will be worth around USD 209.49 billion.


Types of Telemetry Data

Tools for IT monitoring measure telemetry within software development. These tools track telemetry data across various monitoring forms:

Server Monitoring

Server telemetry focuses on monitoring the health and performance of servers within an IT infrastructure. It includes metrics such as:

  • CPU utilization

  • Memory usage

  • Disk I/O

  • Network bandwidth

  • Server statistics

  • User activity and requests

Server telemetry is crucial for ensuring server reliability, optimizing resource allocation, and identifying potential issues before they impact system availability.

For instance, server telemetry data can be used during an online store's big event, where numerous items are on sale. The store's servers might usually run at 40% CPU usage, but during the sale might spike to upwards of 80%. Server monitoring tools, which are tracking this data, quickly alert the IT team, giving them the heads up to increase resource allocation to handle the extra load. This proactive management helps to prevent website slowdowns, and ensures customer satisfaction.

Integration Infrastructure Monitoring

Integration infrastructure telemetry monitors distributed system middleware and integration component performance and reliability. It tracks metrics related to:

  • Message queues

  • API gateways

  • Data integration processes

Integration infrastructure telemetry ensures seamless communication between different system components and detects bottlenecks or failures in data flows.

During Black Friday, a significant e-commerce platform used integration infrastructure monitoring. The platform employs API gateways, message queues, and data integration processes essential for managing a high volume of transactions.

During this sale, a major e-commerce platform's integration infrastructure monitoring might detect an unusual increase in API gateway response times. On alert, the IT team analyzes telemetry data, finds an overload, quickly scales up resources, and limits the rate. These quick actions stabilize the gateway, ensuring the platform can handle the high transaction volume and provide a great shopping experience for their customers.

Application Monitoring

Application telemetry is dedicated to tracking the performance and behavior of software applications. It includes metrics related to:

  • Response times

  • Error rates

  • Resource utilization within applications

  • Database accesses

  • DevOps activity

It assists developers in identifying and diagnosing issues in the application code, allowing performance optimizations and improving user experiences. Application telemetry data includes all the activities related to application monitoring, including:

  • Application deployments

  • Security breaches

  • Response rates

Using application telemetry, a mobile app developer can gather data on how often their app crashes on different devices, which helps them prioritize bug fixes and create an enhanced user experience for all.

Cloud Monitoring

Cloud telemetry monitoring specializes in cloud-based resources and services, including virtual machines, databases, and storage. It provides insights into the following:

  • Resource utilization

  • Cost management

  • Service availability

Cloud telemetry helps organizations efficiently use cloud resources and maintain service reliability. More specifically, it monitors:

  • Cloud availability

  • Latency

  • Hybrid cloud usage

  • Internet routing

  • Energy consumption

  • Utilization

This telemetry is critical for monitoring the cloud environment, making proactive security decisions, and responding to immediate cloud threats.

A video streaming service might use cloud telemetry to keep all cloud-based actions running smoothly, along with aggregating viewer data to understand which content viewers like the most. Cloud telemetry data includes the following:

  • Checking of server health

  • User watch habits

  • Video quality

  • Safety monitoring

By using cloud telemetry, video streaming services can ensure their videos stream well, adjust to viewer preferences, and keep their service safe and enjoyable.

User Monitoring

User telemetry tracks and analyzes user interactions and behaviors within applications or digital platforms. It can include insights from user actions like the following:

  • User engagement

  • Session duration

  • Click-through rates

  • Conversion metrics

  • Satisfaction

This data is essential for improving user experiences, personalizing content, and making data-driven customer satisfaction decisions.

An example of user telemetry is when a user interacts with products. When a user clicks a button, navigates pages, or encounters a specific error page, user telemetry collects all user data.

User telemetry collects any data relating to a user's interaction with an app or website, such as button clicks, page changes, or error codes encountered. Developers can configure the user telemetry pipeline to stream this data to be analyzed, to enhance user experience.

Benefits and Challenges of Telemetry Data

Telemetry data has its benefits and challenges, which can significantly impact its use in various fields. As a critical source of automated, real-time information is collected from sensors and instruments, telemetry enables detailed analysis and monitoring of systems and behaviors using that data.

However, effectively leveraging this data requires navigating complex issues such as data privacy, volume management, and sophisticated analytical techniques. Here's a closer look at telemetry data's top benefits and challenges.

Top Benefits of Telemetry Data

Telemetry offers many benefits, including real-time and automated data collection capabilities, which improve processes, decision-making, and outcomes across industries and applications.

1. Remote feedback

Telemetry data helps with remote monitoring, allowing administrators to gather information in real-time from any remote location. This capability improves system reliability and operational efficiency by identifying issues before they become major problems. It also allows for optimizing system performance through continuous feedback and quick adjustments and updates based on data-driven insights.

2. Real-time performance monitoring

Telemetry allows administrators to track and analyze critical metric, performance, and operational data across various locations and user devices in real time. It offers real-time visibility into the health and status of systems, devices, equipment, operations, and processes.

By receiving real-time data on performance metrics, administrators can identify areas where the application is excelling or falling behind. Furthermore, anomalies and issues are detected far sooner, providing organizations with a proactive approach to promote downtime prevention and performance optimization.

3. Activity tracking

Telemetry data also keeps an eye on UX and application experience. This encompasses metrics like:

  • The frequency with which users engage

  • Engagement duration

  • Highest engaging features

  • Device configurations

  • Origins of crashes

Knowing an application's faults and weaknesses enables developers to improve systems in real time or update them in the future.

4. Enhanced security

Telemetry data collection's continuous and automated nature enhances security across many areas; in other words, it provides an extra layer of protection. Telemetry's real-time monitoring lets you spot unusual system activity, and telemetry data provides critical security information that can assist administrators in taking preventative measures.

In cybersecurity, telemetry data can detect unusual network activity that may signify a security breach, enabling IT teams to act before major harm occurs.

In physical security situations, telemetry systems with sensors can alert security personnel to unauthorized access attempts or other security breaches, strengthening the overall protection of sensitive sites or information.


Did you know?

Telemetry systems are widely adopted by organizations within the automobile industry. These systems monitor engine performance, fuel consumption, and other important features. Manufacturers use this vehicle data to improve engine efficiency, repair issues, and boost vehicle performance.


Challenges and Drawbacks of Telemetry Data

However, telemetry also has its challenges. Here are some which telemetry users may experience:

1. Data access limitations

Telemetry quality is directly proportional to the quantity of data it can gather. Collecting telemetry data from endpoints raises privacy concerns, mainly if it contains sensitive information about users or their activities. As such, users can turn off telemetry, which prevents product data collection and reporting.

2. Data deluge from IoT devices

Telemetry systems send out a vast amount of data that can be overwhelming. The rise of affordable devices like Fitbits, smart thermostats, and the Internet of Things (IoT) has exponentially increased the volume of collected data.

This collection includes complex data from MRI machines, factory robots, and motion sensors. Effectively collecting, organizing, and integrating this vast, unstructured data into databases for analysis poses a significant challenge.

3. Compatibility issues with legacy systems

Legacy systems pose significant integration challenges due to their outdated technological capabilities and lack of comprehensive documentation. Integrating telemetry data with these systems can introduce additional hurdles. Data format and communication protocol differences, in particular, can result in complete incompatibility between new and legacy technologies.

Moreover, legacy systems frequently lack the necessary hardware interfaces to connect with modern telemetry devices. This limitation necessitates additional middleware to manage data flow and translation between systems. New technologies that expose outdated systems to cybersecurity flaws further complicate the integration process.

Another significant issue is the ability of legacy systems to handle the volume and speed of data generated by contemporary devices. Many of these systems are based on outdated software or hardware with limited support, complicating maintenance and upgrades.

To effectively address these challenges, organizations can consider several strategies. These include the following:

  • Use of data adaptation tools to help reconcile different data formats

  • Deploy gateway devices to facilitate communication between technologies

  • Pursue incremental upgrades to minimize disruption

A hybrid approach that leverages old and new technologies can provide a balanced solution that maximizes existing resources while integrating new capabilities.

Telemetry Monitoring Tools

Telemetry monitoring tools are essential for modern IT operations. These tools help organizations collect, analyze, and visualize data from various sources. Telemetry monitoring tools help manage complex technology environments by improving system performance, security, and operational efficiency.

Here's an overview and functionality of the most common telemetry tools:

1. Dashboards or Other Visualization Tools

Telemetry monitoring tools include detailed dashboards that consistently display real-time system performance data. These dashboards may consist of the following metrics:

  • Server load

  • Network latency

  • Application performance

They collect data from various sources and present it in a more understandable format, such as charts, graphs, or tables. These easy-to-understand formats help end users quickly identify trends, detect anomalies, and monitor the health and performance of IT infrastructure.

Moreover, these visualization tools assist users in quickly assessing the system's status, which gives them the information needed to to make the most beneficial decisions.

2. Log Parsing

Log parsing is critical for extracting and analyzing information from system logs. It can handle large volumes of data and operates safely with production systems without causing disruptions.

Furthermore, log parsing is an important process that provides valuable information about the historical context of system operations and aids in the troubleshooting process. It facilitates problem diagnosis, enables comprehension of system behavior over time, and verifies that systems operate as intended.

3. Business Intelligence

Business logging involves using business intelligence techniques to analyze log data and extract actionable insights. It involves identifying patterns like seasonal usage and detecting anomalies that could signify security incidents.

Transforming raw log data into meaningful insights can help organizations enhance operational efficiency, improve security measures, and better understand user behavior. This can also help in strategic planning and operational adjustments.

4. Automation Tools

Automation tools simplify processes by automatically handling repetitive tasks such as detection, recovery, and risk mitigation. They can also be set up to perform specific actions based on certain conditions.

Automation tools reduce the need for manual intervention, improving response times and lowering the risk of human error. Furthermore, automation tools improve operational efficiency and free up IT personnel to work on more strategic tasks.

5. Security Analytics

Telemetry tools use advanced algorithms and data analytics to detect potential security breaches before they occur. They look for patterns that indicate hacking attempts and other security threats.

Security analytics have become increasingly important for protecting organizational data as cyber threats evolve. They act as an early warning system, preventing breaches, protecting sensitive data, and preserving trust.

Wrapping Up

Telemetry data is important for improving system management and enhancing IT operations. It facilitates real-time monitoring, predictive maintenance, and performance tuning across various industries.

Telemetry data offers significant benefits, including improved operational efficiency and enhanced security. However, drawbacks exist, including concerns about data privacy and compatibility with legacy systems.

Effective telemetry use involves advanced data collection, analysis, and visualization tools. These tools can assist organizations in making data-driven decisions and maintaining robust, scalable IT environments.

FAQs for Telemetry Data

What is telemetry, and how does it work?

Telemetry is the collection and analysis of data from remote sources to gain insights into a system's performance. In general, telemetry operates as follows: sensors at the data's source can measure electrical or physical data, and then electronic devices send the measured data to remote locations for analysis.

What is an example of telemetry?

In medicine, telemetry is used for ICU patients connected to medical devices. These patients are being constantly monitored, in particular for their heart rate and blood pressure. When these metrics reach a critical level, the devices alert medical professionals, who intervene to assist the patients.

What is an example of application telemetry?

Mobile apps use application telemetry, which tracks app usage, crashes, and device data. These insights help developers improve app functionality, user experience, and performance.

What are the benefits of cardiac telemetry?

Cardiac telemetry enables early detection of arrhythmias and other heart conditions. It can continuously monitor heart rhythms, identify abnormal ones that short-term tests miss, and assist in diagnosing electrical problems. It can also recognize patients' discomfort and reassure them that alarms will sound when necessary.

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Parthiv Mathur

Technical Marketing Engineer

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