A Guide to OpenTelemetry - Part 4: The Results
October 20, 2022

Pete Goldin

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In Part 4, APMdigest covers the results that users can expect to achieve when adopting OpenTelemetry.

Start with: A Guide to OpenTelemetry - Part 1

Start with: A Guide to OpenTelemetry - Part 2: When Will OTel Be Ready?

Start with: A Guide to OpenTelemetry - Part 3: The Advantages

Making Observability a Reality

"OpenTelemetry makes it easy for businesses to adopt observability tools and best practices, which few have been able to fully achieve until now, as it is difficult to extract properly shaped telemetry signals from existing services and infrastructure," says Morgan McLean, Director of Product Management at Splunk and Co-Founder of OpenTelemetry. "Observability into one's own systems is critical to business success; in a world where all businesses rely on and often develop software, a lack of observability is akin to not managing one's basic finances or inventories."

Improved End-to-End Observability

Austin Parker, Head of Developer Relations at Lightstep by ServiceNow says that OpenTelemetry provides improved end-to-end observability of applications and systems via ubiquitous instrumentation of code, frameworks, and cloud-native services.

"Enhanced instrumentation of the application stack and code delivers a comprehensive and complete picture of application health and performance to provide the context necessary for proactive maintenance and rapid root cause analysis," explains Torsten Volk, Managing Research Director, Containers, DevOps, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA). "This results in increased app reliability and an accelerated MTTR as DevOps teams, SREs and developers will automatically receive more comprehensive and consistent observability and visibility."

Improved End-User Experience

"The telemetry data generated from every part of the IT stack can reveal areas of performance or availability issues that, if left unaddressed, can be detrimental to end users' digital experience," says Joe Byrne, VP of Technology Strategy and Executive CTO at Cisco AppDynamics. "At a time when end users have low tolerance for failing applications, OpenTelemetry is a simple solution that can help businesses protect their brand and customer loyalty."

Reduced MTTR

"OpenTelemetry reduces MTTR by providing in-depth contextual information around production errors," says Martin Thwaites, Developer Advocate at Honeycomb.

Observability-Integrated Development

"We expect to see a rise in 'observability-integrated development' as DevOps and ITOps teams begin to instrument apps as part of their development processes," says Sajai Krishnan, General Manager, Observability, Elastic. " This standardization can significantly improve the value of tracing by enabling rich business or other metadata to be carried along with tracing data that cannot be obtained with just auto instrumentation. This allows us to capture the dollar value of a failed transaction, for example. Observability-integrated development will also increase the pace of application innovation across the dev, staging, and production phases — especially as more software teams adopt continuous delivery methods."

Download the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for APM and Observability

Control Over Data

"OpenTelemetry allows businesses to build robust pipelines and have complete control over the data collected, transformation, and delivery," says Marcin "Perk" Stożek, Software Engineering Manager of Open Source Collection, Sumo Logic.

Getting More Out of Your Data

"The main benefit is that you can more easily switch tools, use multiple tools, and get more out of the depth of telemetry collected from within applications. This will solve a problem which has been plaguing the industry forever," says Jonah Kowall, CTO of Logz.io.

Greater Productivity

"OpenTelemetry increases developer productivity, as developers will have to worry a lot less about manually adding instrumentation variables to their stack to ensure visibility," says Torsten Volk of EMA. "All they need to do is connect the auto instrumentation code that provides logs, traces, and metrics for their application platform, to their own custom code, in order to create a comprehensive view of how this code impacts the underlying stack and vice versa."

"OpenTelemetry is important to ITOps/DevOps because it standardizes the generation of various types of signals (through metrics, logs, and traces) in a vendor neutral specification which helps present a consistent view," adds Nitin Navare, CTO of LogicMonitor. "This allows teams to spend less time generating and collecting signals and use OpenTelemetry insights to focus more on improving and fixing application and infrastructure issues. Teams can then concentrate on the bigger picture when solving degradations in customer experience."

Developer productivity can also increase through observability-driven development loops, made possible by integrations between OpenTelemetry and language runtimes and microservice frameworks, according to Parker from Lightstep by ServiceNow.

No Vendor Lock-in

Possibly the most appealing advantage of OpenTelemetry is the elimination of vendor lock-in due to its open source foundation.

"OpenTelemetry is vendor agnostic. Businesses will no longer have to commit to any specific observability vendor and will be able to (relatively) easily test and use different tools," says Michael Haberman, CTO and Co-Founder of Aspecto.

"The most significant benefit of OpenTelemetry is removing vendor lock-in," confirms Juraci Paixão Kröhling, Grafana Labs Senior Software Engineer. "By establishing a standard for the telemetry data format, OTLP, companies can now use tools that generate data in that format and send it to their tooling of choice. If they ever become dissatisfied with the tool, switching to another is only a matter of changing one configuration option."
OpenTelemetry truly commodifies application and resource telemetry data, finally breaking organizations from their dependence on expensive and proprietary agents that tie them to a single vendor, according to Parker from Lightstep. "It has the potential to disrupt billions of dollars in monitoring and observability spend as it becomes ubiquitous, allowing for developers and SREs to choose tools that are right for their needs without expensive re-instrumentation efforts."

Since OpenTelemetry does not provide storage, analysis and vizualization capabilities, there is potential for vendor lock-in on the backend, warns Daniel Khan, Director of Product Management (Telemetry) at Sentry.

However Pranay Prateek, Co-Founder of SigNoz points out, "Users don't get vendor locked in as they can easily change the vendor they use for storing and visualizing data as long as it supports OTel format. It also makes a level playing field for new products to emerge."

Open Source Flexibility

OpenTelemetry's open source foundations not only help users avoid vendor lock-in, but also provide the flexibility to build on and extend the system.

Haberman from Aspecto asserts that OpenTelemetry enables complete access to source code, as well as insight into how community members build features. "It means developers can actually extend OTel's capabilities, build on top of it, and leverage what others develop. With that, the community is highly supportive and welcomes changes."

"OpenTelemetry gives power back to organizations to think and continually reassess their monitoring tooling to ensure they get the best possible production visibility," adds Thwaites from Honeycomb.

Bringing DevOps and IT Ops Together

"You get most value out of your monitoring landscape if the operations team running the infrastructure and application developers work together sharing the same set of tools," says Fabian Stäber, Grafana Labs Senior Engineering Manager. "OpenTelemetry will allow the APM landscape to transition away from proprietary tools towards open standards, and this will eventually lead to closer integration of traditional infrastructure monitoring with application monitoring. The core idea behind DevOps is to break the barrier between developers and operations. OpenTelemetry will play a major role in breaking down those barriers."

Go to: A Guide to OpenTelemetry - Part 5: The Challenges

Pete Goldin is Editor and Publisher of APMdigest
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