Author: Morgan McLean, Director of Product Management at Splunk and Co-founder of OpenTelemetry
Bio: Morgan McLean is a director of product management at Splunk focused on the Splunk Observability Cloud, along with Splunk’s contributions to OpenTelemetry and the agent and ingestion unification between Splunk Observability Cloud and Splunk Enterprise. Additionally, he is the co-founder of OpenCensus and OpenTelemetry, now the second largest CNCF project behind only Kubernetes.
As demand for better observability into backend infrastructure, services and client applications has accelerated in the past year, OpenTelemetry has established itself as the industry standard for capturing data from these sources so it can be sent to any destination for processing. OpenTelemetry’s robust and passionate community has reached 900 monthly-active contributors (and counting!)
And really it’s no wonder why many are rushing to embrace OpenTelemetry — its benefits are abundant and practical. The open source project’s unified approach to telemetry data collection and its plethora of well-maintained integrations — along with the flexibility it unlocks — enables organizations to integrate and share data across various systems more easily. OpenTelemetry also offers numerous customer benefits that are incredibly relevant to modern enterprises, such as greater data ownership, improved tool consolidation and the ability to bypass vendor lock-in.
As the demands for observability and resilient data practices evolve, so will the ways customers use and benefit from it. In addition to reducing the complexity of managing telemetry data, OpenTelemetry can help its users decrease operational costs, enhance internal efficiency and ultimately harness their digital resilience. For organizations looking for innovative tools and resources to optimize their performance and competitive edge in the coming new year, OpenTelemetry is a must-have addition for their 2024 technology strategy.
Outlined below are the three predicted ways customers will look to use and optimize OpenTelemetry in the coming year and beyond:
- Gain greater data ownership and control. Three years ago, OpenTelemetry gave developers the ability to capture distributed traces and send them anywhere. In the years that followed, OpenTelemetry added support for infrastructure and application metrics, and will now be adding logs. With access to these core signals — the three pillars of observability — and the instrumentation and features that OpenTelemetry has added alongside them, developers and organizations everywhere can now take full control of how their data is captured, its shape and contents and where it gets sent for processing. They can also rely on the OpenTelemetry Collector’s pre-processing capabilities to do things like filter out personally identifiable information (PII), drop unnecessary dimensions or data points that provide little value or send data to multiple destinations. These capabilities ultimately empower organizations with more ownership and clarity over their data supply chain, so they can enhance, change or route the data as they see fit to get the most value.
In addition, OpenTelemetry makes it easy to send either identical or different data streams to multiple destinations. One of the reasons why OpenTelemetry is seeing such rapid adoption in the financial services industry is it can store an untouched stream of logs and traces into cold storage for compliance requirements, while sending streams of data that have been filtered of any personally identifiable information (credit card numbers, names and more) to tools outside of the organization’s compliance boundary.
- Decrease operational costs while harnessing efficiency. Reducing operational costs has been incredibly important to many organizations over the past year, and OpenTelemetry can be a cost-effective resource in this regard. Not only does the data that OpenTelemetry captures help power observability tools (which improves incident detection, reduces times to incident resolution and resolves revenue-impacting issues more quickly), but OpenTelemetry is now investing in a new signal type: profiles. While this project is still at a very early phase, profiles will ultimately capture performance data for every function call within a production codebase, making it easy to identify code segments that are consuming inordinate amounts of CPU or memory. This can be used to speed up slow user interactions (especially in conjunction with distributed traces), or to substantially reduce the cost of services with inefficiently written code segments that would never be discovered otherwise.
- Strengthen tool consolidation. OpenTelemetry makes it easy for an organization to smoothly move between observability backends. This sort of flexibility is critical when an organization is pursuing a larger tool consolidation project — such as an acquisition or when different observability solutions are used for different environments and need to be integrated. If each individual team uses different tools (and each with different ways of capturing data), then no one tool (or person) can get full visibility across the entire organization. OpenTelemetry makes it possible to capture data from every piece of infrastructure and service across an entire enterprise, and then send this data to any set of destinations. This means teams could keep using their existing tools while gaining visibility across the entire stack (though this tends to be very expensive), or they can start to smoothly consolidate onto a single set of tools for the entire organization, with minimal disruption.
In summary, OpenTelemetry is ascending at a rapid pace. With the three most popular observability signals in place, along with thousands of integrations, a consistent data model and semantic conventions, and increased usage and support across the industry, I’m excited and optimistic to see the impact of OpenTelemetry in the coming year!
At Splunk, we’re convinced that open standards like OpenTelemetry are the future. We are dedicated to furthering the advancement and adoption of projects that prioritize data ownership. That’s why Splunk has built Splunk Observability Cloud with native integration to OpenTelemetry, keeping our customers top of mind.
We invite you to visit with us in-person at Booth #I4 at this year’s KubeCon North America 2023 in Chicago, November 6 – 9. Contributors and open source maintainers (including me!) will be present at our booth throughout the conference.