OpenTelemetry debuts at Kubecon, heads to CNCF sandbox

Newly minted observability project OpenTelemetry has leapt into the CNCF sandbox, just weeks after it was formed by the merger of two rival long-standing observability efforts.

The recently birthed project was formed by the coming together of Google founded OpenCensus, and the OpenTracing effort started by Ben Sigelman of Lightstep.

The merger of the two projects was first announced in March, with the two groups pledging to create a “unified set of libraries and specifications for observability telemetry” and provide a “supported migration path”. Yesterday, the CNCF announced that the combined effort had joined its sandbox.

In a posting on the CNCF website, Sigelmann, and Morgan McLean, Product Manager for OpenCensus at Google, outlined the aims of the combined project: “If you’ve ever deployed or operated a modern, microservice-based software application, you have no doubt struggled to understand its performance and behavior, and that’s because those “outputs” are usually meager at best.“

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“We can’t understand a complex system if it’s a black box,” they continued. “And the only way to light up those black boxes is with high-quality telemetry: distributed traces, metrics, logs, and more.”

They said the “the biggest problem with either project has been the fact that there were two of them. And, further, that the two projects weren’t working together and striving for mutual compatibility.”

They described OpenTelemetry “as the next major version of both OpenTracing and OpenCensus.”

They pledged to “make it easy for both new and existing end-users, but we recognize that the main benefit to the ecosystem is the consolidation itself – not some specific and shiny new feature – and we are prioritizing our own efforts accordingly.”

The CNCF’s sandbox stage aims to nurture and raise the visibility of projects, and prep them for its incubation level. Part of this is facilitating alignment with existing projects and help remove legal and governance obstacles – something that hopefully is largely achieved.

Assuming all goes smoothly, “parity” should be reached by September, with the predecessor projects officially “sunset” on November 6, with an official Sunset party at Kubecon San Diego later that month.

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