Sunday, May 26, 2024

OpenTelemetry and its positive impact on IT departments

By Gregg Ostrowski, Executive CTO, Cisco AppDynamics

Today, OpenTelemetry offers more flexibility for enterprises of all sizes to have greater visibility into performance and availability by providing control of every technical element of their IT environment. This has proven to be a crucial factor for business growth by enabling the collection of data from distributed systems to troubleshoot, debug and manage applications and their host environment.

First, it is important to note that OpenTelemetry is a vendor-agnostic and portable standard for metrics, events, logs, and traces (MELT), that turns the collection of telemetry into a commodity. Rather than having to deploy agents to monitor availability and performance once applications are rolled out in production, developers can also immediately write code into their applications which will generate health and performance telemetry data once running in production.

At an organizational level, the advantages of accessing this data immediately are immense. OpenTelemetry is the standard that expands application visibility from on-premise to cloud services and, when paired with advanced analytics, such as Machine Learning and AI capabilities correlated with other MELT data, it unlocks the potential of full-stack observability. Enabling technologists to gain real-time insights into performance right up and down the IT stack, for compute, storage, network and public internet, from the customer-facing application all the way into the back-end. 

Organizations across all industries are increasingly recognizing the need for full and unified visibility into IT availability and performance across their whole IT environment. 

Nowadays, technologists are fully aware they simply can’t afford any slip-ups when it comes to IT performance. They’re currently operating in an environment where customers have zero tolerance for poor digital experience. It is no secret that the moment a customer encounters a problem with an application or a digital service, they will move on to another brand, will probably not return and the company’s reputation may be harmed for its service. 

As a result, full-stack observability has become a business-critical priority for organizations. The AppDynamics report, The Journey to Observability, revealed that more than half of all businesses have already started their transition to full-stack observability and a further 36 per cent plan to do so in the next 12 months. This implies that 90 per cent of organizations will be somewhere along the journey to full-stack observability during 2022.

OpenTelemetry is set to play a crucial role in accelerating this transition to full-stack observability over the next 12 months and beyond, providing an easy and cost-effective way for technologists to generate greater visibility into their IT environments. 

In addition to transforming the way organizations are able to optimize IT performance and deliver seamless digital experience, OpenTelemetry also signals some significant shifts in the way IT departments themselves work. 

Here are three big changes:

1. Concern for development time and production time

At this point, the critical focus for developer teams was to build functionality within the given application to make it as intuitive, engaging and easy to use as possible. However, with OpenTelemetry, it is often developers who are responsible for inputting the code which will then deliver critical data on performance once the application is in a live production environment. Developers need to take a broader approach, ensuring that new applications and digital services have the ability to collect information more consistently and accurately in the future.

2. The right tools at the right moment 

OpenTelemetry gives individual teams (whether ITOps or CloudOps) the freedom to choose the tools they want to manage availability and performance while working from the same telemetry data. OpenTelemetry prevents vendor lock-ins and enables data freedom to be duplicated and sent to multiple places at once. So, data can go to specific open source tools such as Jaeger for given teams, as well as to enterprise-grade observability solutions. 

In line with the above, teams can pick the best tool for their own specific requirements in an easy, flexible and cost-effective way, and are no longer restricted to one monitoring tool which may not provide the visibility they need for a specific project.

3. A laser focus on processing and correlating OpenTelemetry data

OpenTelemetry can collect data from across the IT stack but alone it doesn’t group data together and deliver more holistic insight into performance. So, in order for IT departments to reap the benefits of OpenTelemetry, they need to ingest OpenTelemetry data into an analytics engine to process and correlate this raw data with other sources to gain business focused insights and make prioritized decisions.

It is safe to say 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. 

Therefore 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 business-focussed decisions.

OpenTelemetry as an indispensable factor in achieving full-stack observability

According to our recent research, 85 per cent of technologists believe that 2022 will be a pivotal year on their journey towards full-stack observability. 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. 

OpenTelemetry is now the key to accelerating this shift towards full-stack observability, providing a level of visibility into the IT estate that simply hasn’t been viable for most organizations up to this point. 

Those IT departments that can successfully integrate OpenTelemetry into their observability strategies have a unique opportunity to deliver an impact that positively affects their organizations and therefore their customers.


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Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski
Gregg Ostrowski is executive CTO at AppDynamics.