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OpenTelemetry and Three Things Technologists Should Know About It

By Gregg Ostrowski, CTO Advisor, Cisco AppDynamics

As companies continue to scale their business by introducing new applications or migrating all or part of their operations to the cloud, their IT stacks are becoming more complex and highly fragmented. As a result, OpenTelemetry has quickly gained traction.

Complex IT environments and rising performance demands can make it difficult for technologists to monitor and address bottlenecks across every part of the IT stack. This limited visibility poses the risk of performance or availability issues going unnoticed, which opens the possibility for them to harm the end users' digital experience. Technologists have started to look to OpenTelemetry as a standardized and cost-effective solution, as it allows for full visibility throughout the entire IT stack and the ability to share performance data across teams. With OpenTelemetry, technologists are finding they can retrieve data from even the most fragmented parts of the IT stack, helping them maintain the performance of their company's applications.

While the industry is still in the early stages of adopting OpenTelemetry, it will soon become widespread, as more and more companies are already incorporating OpenTelemetry into their future digital strategy plans. To get the most out of the solution, technologists can begin to look at factors such as what OpenTelemetry has to offer and the best implementation approach.

Before adopting OpenTelemetry, technologists should also consider it may not be enough on its own, and that the company should have a hybrid strategy in place, as well as a way to translate the data it collects into actionable business insights. 

OpenTelemetry is not a standalone tool

OpenTelemetry helps provide the visibility needed to identify and address performance issues in cloud native and other complex environments by generating and collecting data throughout. However, on its own, it is unable to make sense of the data and turn it into actionable insights.

For technologists looking to optimize the performance of their IT stack, OpenTelemetry should only be one part of the process. Deploying OpenTelemetry can be a great option for gathering high volumes of isolated data, but technologists would still need to evaluate it in order to have true visibility into what is going on. 

Analyzing the vast amount of raw data generated with OpenTelemetry requires the use of additional tools like observability, which can provide a holistic view of overall performance and impact on business results. Pairing OpenTelemetry with other ingested MELT data (metrics, events, logging and tracing) will also enable technologists to correlate the performance data with the data collected like Kubernetes.

As OpenTelemetry matures, currently supporting traces and metrics, it is expected that these visibility gaps will be improved with the addition of logs. That said, when adopting OpenTelemetry, technologists should arm the technology with complimentary tools to ensure they are getting the most out of the solution.

Companies should have a hybrid strategy in place

The past few years have seen a ramp up of cloud migration as companies aimed to expand their IT estate. Given this can be a slow and complicated process, companies have been operating both on premises and in cloud native environments. Therefore, technologists are responsible for keeping track of performance and availability of applications on both.

While technologists may be deploying separate tools to monitor cloud native and legacy applications, they require a holistic view of applications components that run across the two environments - troubleshooting bottlenecks becomes difficult otherwise.

To achieve the holistic view of application performance and availability on premises and in the cloud, technologists should incorporate OpenTelemetry into a hybrid strategy. When leveraging OpenTelemetry to collect data from on premise and cloud environments, having a hybrid strategy in place will help to ensure the right processes and tools are in place to correlate the findings with their actions.  

Pairing OpenTelemetry data with business metrics

As previously mentioned, OpenTelemetry is a great tool for extracting data from the IT stack, but understanding the raw data and turning it into action insights requires additional support. Technologists should aim to take advantage of the vast amount of data OpenTelemetry can generate by enhancing it with business metrics.

By deploying OpenTelemetry within another observability solution, technologists can get real-time insights from the collected data that can be used to prioritize next steps based on business outcomes. This will enable technologists to support seamless digital experiences for the end user and maximize business results.

OpenTelemetry is becoming an essential tool for monitoring complex IT environments and technologists should equip themselves with the right strategy and tools before adopting to get the most out of what it has to offer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gregg Ostrowski 

Gregg Ostrowski is a CTO Advisor at AppDynamics. He engages with customer senior leadership to help prioritize their strategy for digital transformation. Prior to AppDynamics, Gregg held senior leadership positions at Samsung and Research in Motion.

Published Wednesday, June 28, 2023 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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