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VMblog Expert Interview: Nobl9 Talks Releasing OpenSLO as an Open Source Project to SRE Community


Nobl9, the software reliability platform company and host of SLOconf, announced that together with core contributors including some of the world's most renowned Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and Service Level Objective (SLO) experts, it has released OpenSLO as an open source project under the Apache 2 (APLv2) license. To learn more about the latest in SLO's, VMblog caught up with Kit Merker, COO of Nobl9 to discuss OpenSLO.

VMblog:  We last spoke to you when the company announced $21 million in Series B funding.  Tell us a little bit about the new project being introduced, OpenSLO. 

Kit Merker:  One of the big hurdles to SLO option historically has been the lack of a common format. Enterprises want to invest in a reliability metric that is fundamentally open, interoperable with a broad range of telemetry data (observability, APM and logging vendors' platforms), and not be held hostage by any single vendor. OpenSLO provides that simple, standard way for the industry to define the SLO in YAML, to validate it, and to check it in to the Git workflow in a way that's ergonomic to the developer workflow.

VMblog:  It looks like SLOs allow SREs to define reliability metrics that provide a baseline for system health.  How does OpenSLO help SRE's workflow? 

Merker:  SLOs really are a fundamentally different way to look at reliability metrics, than their SLA predecessors. SLOs are defined not at the point where services are falling down, but instead at the edge of excellence where customers are thrilled and companies are sustainable. SLOs require more math based methods to ingest data from n- observability tools, and then look at current service health not through the lens of arbitrary uptime percentages, but through the true impact to users. There's still a lot that's difficult about with SLOs than merely the specification format. There is a lot of difficult math involved to set up meaningful SLOs, there is a lot of integration required to configure them with all of your telemetry data, and there is a lot of other nuance. But the investment is well worth it because it allows your team to pace against actual user experience within your services, rather than arbitrary uptime goals that have no basis in business outcomes.

VMblog:  Can you tell us more about what customers can expect from using OpenSLO?

Merker:  As a standard YAML specification format for SLOs, OpenSLO ships with a parser and basic validation and testing capabilities in its initial release. We're hoping that the ALM vendor ecosystem will broadly adopt OpenSLO so that there is broad interoperability between the SLOs that users create, and the ecosystem of vendor tooling that they can plug them into.

VMblog:  Where do you think SLOs are headed?

Merker:  There is a growing sentiment in the SRE community -- and the software engineering community overall -- that SLOs will become a standard component in the software development lifecycle, and across all of the observability tooling that SREs use to monitor application and system health. 

VMblog:  Who are the core contributors to OpenSLO? 

Merker:  OpenSLO core committers include Niall Richard Murphy (former SRE at Google and Microsoft), Andrew Newdigate (distinguished engineer, infrastructure, GitLab), Juergen Etzlstorfer (technology strategist, Dynatrace), Alex Nauda (chief technology officer at Nobl9), and Ian Bartholomew (lead site reliability engineer at Nobl9). We have several other contributors from around the ecosystem and expect more to join us after our announcement today.

VMblog:  Is there anything else our readers should know about this announcement?  

Merker:  The OpenSLO team invites the broader SRE industry to participate in the evolution of this common reliability specification through integrations and features contributions, and from these classes of contributors in particular:

  • Application Lifecycle Management Vendors  
  • Cloud Providers 
  • Open Source Projects and Frameworks  
  • Service Partners Consulting Enterprises on SRE and Agile 

Users can access and contribute to the OpenSLO Spec on GitHub.


Published Wednesday, May 19, 2021 7:30 AM by David Marshall
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