The landscape of observability is changing. Today’s digital transformation journey has highlighted the need for observability as organizations seek to capture, analyze and correlate all data across all levels of the application stack, including logs, metrics, traces and events. With the rampant increase in data, collecting these signals is imperative for both business insight and system optimization.

Over the past few years, open source data collection has given software and engineering teams the freedom to decide which technologies they want to standardize data collection on and which vendors they want data sent to. While open source data collection has brought a lot of freedom and benefits, it has also created new problems. The lack of a single, comprehensive framework for all critical observability signals tracked has created a lot of friction for developers. As we move into the new year, businesses are taking the opportunity to think about how they can better use their data and apply intelligence to help customers make decisions and sift through all the noise. Enter OpenTelemetry.

What is OpenTelemetry?

OpenTelemetry is a collection of tools, APIs and SDKs that instrument, generate, collect and export all machine data; it arose out of the need to develop an industry-wide standard for software instrumentation. By leveraging a unique cloud-native framework to complement observability, OpenTelemetry becomes the gold standard in machine data collection.

OpenTelemetry consists of three main components: the specification, the manifold, and the instrumentation. The specification uses an API, SDK, and OpenTelemetry’s semantic conventions and protocol to determine cross-language requirements for all implementations. The collector eliminates the need for multiple data collection agents. It is a vendor-independent method for receiving, processing, transforming and exporting data. Instrumentation libraries allow users to integrate their applications with OpenTelemetry using auto-instrumentation and support for multiple frameworks and languages. Together, they provide a solid framework for companies to disrupt their existing observability practices and amplify them even further.

It’s all about customers

Most modern businesses have complex distributed microservices made up of tens, hundreds, or thousands of components that all work together to provide a customer experience. If organizations cannot correlate these components or different signals easily, it will slow down a the company’s ability to effectively monitor, diagnose and resolve problems.

For years, organizations have delved into observability by relying on multiple infrastructure providers to collect, enrich, and send data to providers. Yet many still fail to maximize the most pronounced capacity of observability: the correlation of complex systems and signals.

As end users want deep insight into their data, they also expect vendors to provide the best experience for identifying and resolving issues within their systems using observability. With true observability, organizations can give customers time to focus on what matters – managing their customers ‘digital experiences and empowering them to meet their customers’ needs.

A similar path to adoption

Just as Kubernetes has been essential to the growing adoption of software containers, the industry is already witnessing the same adoption approach around OpenTelemetry for observability. Kubernetes has won the war to become the standard for container orchestration. Now OpenTelemetry will bring the same standards needed for observability with full visibility into the health and performance of every layer of the stack.

OpenTelemetry has become widely adopted by the software development community, but it is only at the beginning of its journey. The developer community has made Kubernetes a success, and we’ll see the same with OpenTelemetry as customers demand better integration and less lockdown. For vendors involved in applications and software, from more traditional approaches such as application performance management, to software development pipelines and management tools, to cloud native services, support for OpenTelemetry will be a table issue in the future.

With extended portability, better developer control, and strong vendor and cloud vendor support, OpenTelemetry has opened up a new world to customers by helping improve achievable outcomes across application infrastructure, from process from software development to areas such as security.

How can companies continue to advance observability while balancing growing customer demands? Quite simply: If organizations don’t think about OpenTelemetry now, they lose their competitive edge by not having the proper visibility to meet the service level goals that customers expect today.