CXO Bytes

OpenTelemetry is key to accelerating the journey to full-stack observability and delivering a new level of digital experience


Across all industries, technologists are recognizing the benefits of OpenTelemetry as a quick and simple way to generate visibility into performance and availability across every single technical element of their IT environment.

OpenTelemetry is a vendor-agnostic and portable standard for metrics, events, logs, and traces (MELT). It allows technologists to monitor every part of their IT stack, beyond only the mission-critical applications where most have typically deployed high-end monitoring solutions until now.

It’s helpful to think about OpenTelemetry as the lingua franca for full-stack observability, generating and collecting telemetry data up and down the IT stack. Due to its open nature, OpenTelemetry eliminates vendor lock-ins and gives teams (whether that’s ITOps, SRE or Cloud Ops) the freedom and flexibility to choose the most appropriate tools to make sense of the raw collected telemetry data.

Critically, OpenTelemetry can provide technologists with a detailed view of every single interaction anywhere within their IT environment so that they can more easily resolve issues. Up until now, this level of visibility simply hasn’t been achievable for many organizations on their full ecosystem due to the cost and complexity of deploying advanced application monitoring solutions beyond their most critical applications.

However, while OpenTelemetry is game changing in providing technologists with complete visibility up and down the IT stack, it’s important to note that it is only concerned with generating data; it doesn’t help IT teams to make sense of the vast volumes of data coming at them. Without the right strategy and tools in place, technologists can very quickly be facing a deluge of telemetry data which only serves to add more complexity to their jobs, rather than reducing it.

So in order to reap the real benefits of OpenTelemetry, technologists need a way to consume, process and correlate the data that it delivers. And they need to be able to get a more consolidated, holistic view to understand IT performance and availability with a business transaction lens. Only with this level of insight are they able to cut through the data noise, make informed decisions and prioritize actions based on potential impact to end user experience.

Technologists also need to be able to integrate this telemetry data with their existing observability data. And this is particularly important given that many businesses don’t want to replace existing solutions which are performing a vital role in managing and optimizing performance within their most business-critical customer-facing applications.

Indeed, full-stack observability solutions deliver high value-add and OpenTelemetry, on the other hand, is about breadth, enabling technologists to monitor each and every corner of their IT estate – which up until now has been impossible due to cost or technical limitations. Importing OpenTelemetry into advanced full-stack observability solutions might be the winning combination.

Across all sectors, organizations are looking to ramp up their efforts to achieve full-stack observability. The latest AppDynamics report, The Journey to Observability, found that 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. That means that 90% of organizations will be somewhere along the journey to full-stack observability during 2022.

This shift is being driven by a broad range of factors both within and beyond the IT department, including the growing complexity of IT infrastructure, new working practices triggered by the pandemic, and the constant pressure to accelerate digital transformation. More than anything else, though, organizations are recognizing the need to meet soaring customer expectations for exceptional digital experiences. They know that consumers now have zero tolerance for poor digital experiences, and that any slip-up in IT performance or availability can have huge repercussions.

Technologists are rightly seeing full-stack observability as the route to address this challenge, and already many businesses are feeling the benefits of their early initiatives to generate greater visibility into IT availability and performance.

OpenTelemetry will play an increasingly important part in how businesses can achieve their goals for full-stack observability over the next year and beyond, providing an easy and cost-effective way to generate greater visibility into a wider part of their IT environments. Those technologists that are able to integrate this telemetry data into their current observability solutions (which must provide the advanced analytics required to make business-focussed decisions) will be well-placed to hit their targets. And in doing so, they can ensure they have the insight they need to deliver seamless and brilliant digital experiences to customers each and every time.

(The author Mr.Abhilash Purushothaman as Regional Vice President & General Manager, Asia, Cisco AppDynamics and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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