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What is OpenTelemetry?

As a developer, IT operator, DevOps engineer, or SRE (site reliability engineer), you are responsible for the performance and health of applications that you build or operate. The information that you will use to determine whether an application is healthy and performing as designed is called telemetry data. While technology providers have created agents to collect telemetry data, using these agents can tie you to those providers. OpenTelemetry creates both a single open standard for telemetry data and the technology to collect and export data from cloud-native applications so it can be monitored and analyzed.

Learn about how OpenTelemetry works with Google Cloud’s operations suite for monitoring and analyzing cloud-native applications and infrastructure running on Google Cloud.

OpenTelemetry overview

OpenTelemetry provides a single, open source standard and a set of technologies to capture and export metrics, traces, and logs (in the future) from your cloud-native applications and infrastructure.

Modern cloud-native applications are distributed, making the capture and export of telemetry data complicated. OpenTelemetry’s single set of standards and technology tools make it easier to capture data and export it to participating technology vendors or open source projects.

What is OpenTelemetry used for?

OpenTelemetry can be used to solve common issues encountered at organizations running cloud-native applications across distributed systems.

Monitor the health of microservices applications

Capture metrics and traces from applications in distributed systems. This data helps you understand if your applications are running as designed.

Attribute resource usage to different user groups

OpenTelemetry helps you capture requests between microservices so you can track resource usage of shared systems by the group where it originated.

Create prioritized requests among shared resources

Create tiered requests within your applications, ensuring that when competing requests reach shared resources, they can be prioritized correctly. 

Captured traces, metrics, and logs (coming soon) can be sent to Google Cloud operations suite offerings such as Cloud Monitoring and Cloud Trace, open source tools like Prometheus, or back ends like Splunk, New Relic, Dynatrace, Lightstep, Datadog, and many others. You can export simultaneously to as many destinations as you like.

Additionally, Google Cloud’s clients, including the Cloud Spanner client libraries, natively integrate with OpenTelemetry to provide customers with a best-in-class management experience.