Former rivals at OpenTelemetry lock in tracing specification, to focus on metrics next

OpenTelemetry

Open source observability framework OpenTelemetry has frozen its tracing specification, giving that part of the project release candidate status after other components hit beta earlier this year.

OpenTelemetry was first announced in March 2019 and is the result of a merger of two similar open-source projects: OpenCensus, from Google, and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation project OpenTracing.

The pooled distributed tracing project – which has had a lot of interest from the community as the second most active CNCF project – is aimed at helping users capture telemetry data from their services which can then be used for managing and debugging purposes. 

Components include various APIs, libraries, agents, and collector services for several languages, which are developed by members of companies such as Splunk, Microsoft, Google, Red Hat, Dynatrace, Datadog, and Uber.

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With the tracing spec almost fixed, the OpenTelemetry team will now focus on getting API, SDK, and collector implementations done, the first of which are expected to be pushed out in the next two weeks. It also frees up capacities to get the metrics specification into a similar shape. OpenTelemetry co-creator Morgan McLean even wrote that “starting this week, we will prioritize metrics-related changes to the specification for the next specification milestone.”

Once that is done, documentation, a versioning strategy, and additional testing will be on the agenda before the project is deemed to be general availability worthy. McLean also expects to see bridge APIs to seamlessly replace OpenCensus and OpenTracing with the successor project to drop some time before GA. A more detailed timeline should become available in the coming weeks, as the project gets a better grasp of what’s needed to stabilise the available elements. 

Users who’d like to see logging capabilities added before trying the framework might have to wait for a little longer, still. The corresponding special interest group only took up work earlier this year so its transition into beta phase is still a while away.

However, those looking to take OpenTelemetry for a spin already can try their hand at the newly announced public preview of the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry. The kit is marketed as a “secure and supported distribution of the APIs, libraries, agents, and collectors defined in the OpenTelemetry Specification”. The distro’s main features are metadata collection and the instrumentation of applications running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Container Service (ECS), Kubernetes Service (EKS) on EC2, AWS Fargate, and on-premises. 

Teams using AWS along AppDynamics, Grafana, New Relic, Splunk or Datadog tools should be able to easily add the new insights into their regular setups, thanks to specially added exporters and other helpers. A limiting factor is the language used for application development, though, since AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry currently only works with Java apps. JavaScript and .NET tooling is soon to be added, followed by Python, Ruby, Go, C++, Erlang, and Rust support.

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