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Data / DevOps / Observability

OpenTelemetry Is Transforming IT Departments. Here’s How

Organizations who are in the middle of digital transformation are able to leverage OpenTelemetry from development through production.
Oct 14th, 2022 10:00am by
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OpenTelemetry is a game changer. By giving teams visibility into performance and availability data across every single technical element of their IT environment, it’s unlocking the true potential of full-stack observability.

OpenTelemetry is democratizing cloud native application visibility by standardizing the MELT (metrics, events, logs and traces) telemetry generation aspects of observability. It delivers the flexibility that allows developers to either quickly instrument their applications by allowing OpenTelemetry to automatically generate default telemetry without code changes through auto instrumentation or developers can get full control on what and how telemetry is generated by implementing the instrumentation code as part of their application development process.

More organizations are now seeing the potential of both OpenTelemetry and full-stack observability: According to the AppDynamicsThe Journey to Observability report, more than half of all businesses have already started their transition to full-stack observability and a further 36% plan to do so in the next 12 months.

OpenTelemetry will play a critical role as observability adoption increases, helping organizations overcome the soaring levels of complexity that their IT departments are encountering across an ever more dynamic and fragmented IT estate. In doing so I truly believe it will transform IT departments themselves, helping them operate with greater freedom, ease, and cost-effectiveness. Here are three key ways that OpenTelemetry is reshaping how IT departments work, including insights from our own work with customers.

1. Considering Performance Data from the Earliest Stages

Customers who are in the middle of digital transformation are able to leverage OpenTelemetry from development through production. Typically, when developer teams build new functionality, they are focused on making applications that are robust, intuitive, and easy to use.

OpenTelemetry changes that. With it, developers are responsible for inputting the code that will deliver critical performance data. This important change forces developers to take a broader approach. Something that must be considered from the early stages of development is consistent, accurate data collection.

A common use case we have observed is in the transition to a microservice architecture, where customers can quickly include OpenTelemetry instrumentation in their CI/CD pipeline to ensure observability is in the plans from the start and continue through rapid enhancements and addition of new microservices by the development team. Because these journeys are often over multiple years, getting it right from the beginning is critical.

2. Giving Developers the Freedom to Choose the Right Tools

OpenTelemetry, a project of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, is both open source and portable. This is a powerful feature for ITOps, CloudOps or SRE teams because it gives them the freedom to choose the tools they need to manage availability and performance.

Because OpenTelemetry allows performance data to be duplicated and sent to multiple places at once, it enables greater flexibility and data freedom. For example, data can flow to specific open source tools such as Jaeger for one team, while flowing to enterprise-grade observability solutions such as AppDynamics for another.

Essentially, OpenTelemetry allows teams to pick the best tool for their own specific requirements in an easy, flexible, and cost-effective way.

3. Focusing on Processing and Correlating OpenTelemetry Data

OpenTelemetry changes the game because it can collect data from right across the IT stack — but it doesn’t necessarily group data together and deliver more holistic insight into performance. In order for IT departments to reap the full benefits of OpenTelemetry, they need to find a way to consume, process and correlate this raw data with other sources to gain business-focused insights. That’s where full-stack observability comes in.

The reality is that most organizations will continue to deploy agent-driven observability to monitor and optimize performance on their most mission-critical applications. Today, these solutions provide deeper insight than OpenTelemetry can. Also, whereas OpenTelemetry is focused purely in the tech domain, the best full-stack observability solutions provide real-time insights at a user and business level, enabling technologists to make decisions and prioritize actions based on customer and business outcomes.

IT departments need to ensure they have the right full-stack observability platform in place to integrate the vast volumes of OpenTelemetry data they will be generating and to provide the advanced analytics required to make the best, business-centric decisions that are right for them.

Accelerate the Journey to Full Stack Observability

According to our recent research, 85% of technologists believe that this year will be critical for their full-stack observability journey. They know that they need to continue to expand their monitoring capabilities over the next 12 months in order to generate greater visibility across their IT estate, particularly within microservices, container and serverless environments.

For our customers who are on this journey, using a tool like AppDynamics allows them to include applications with OpenTelemetry alongside their legacy applications, painting a full picture of how data traverses their topology while providing advanced analytics to pinpoint application failures, regardless of where an app is running. With a combined approach, customers can ensure observability as they continue their transformation.

For many IT departments, OpenTelemetry will be key to accelerating the implementation of full-stack observability, bringing a level of visibility that has been out of reach until now.

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