In a landmark announcement, eBay, one of the largest sites in the world, is announcing an ‘all in’ pivot to OpenTelemetry.

In their writeup from their engineering blog, the eBay team focuses on the technical considerations of the migration. But the conclusion is stark:

Given the growing maturity of OpenTelemetry, we pivoted to using OpenTelemetry Collector for metrics and are actively working towards doing the same for logs. We will continue learning from running agents at scale and pivoting as needed.

OpenTelemetry vs. Closed Source Tools

What are some of the advantages of OpenTelemetry over closed-source solutions?

  • Cost: OpenTelemetry is free, while closed-source solutions can be expensive to purchase and maintain.
  • Flexibility: OpenTelemetry allows for customization and integration with existing infrastructure more easily than a closed-source tool.
  • Scalability: OpenTelemetry scales effortlessly as your system grows, with no additional licensing fees or costly expenses found in closed-source alternatives.
  • Security: With open-source solutions, a broad community of developers familiar with the code base can quickly identify and address suspicious activity or bugs due to the transparent nature of the source code.
  • Faster Implementation/Rollout Time: Leveraging tested and proven open-source products allows for faster rollout of new features and services compared to building from scratch with a closed-source platform.

The developers found it to be incredibly useful when debugging distributed problems. eBay began to expand the instrumentation and adoption of the OpenTelemetry project at an accelerated pace.

The most immediate benefit of embracing OpenTelemetry was its use in debugging distributed problems. It enabled eBay’s development teams to understand the exact nature of the problem by seeing the individual steps across the entire application. This gave developers a better understanding of how things could break down in a distributed system.

In addition to helping developers debug problems, OpenTelemetry has created efficiencies for the engineering teams by allowing them to debug problems faster. This is because OpenTelemetry allows the engineering teams to instrument their systems without manually writing code for each request. This decreased the amount of time needed to identify and resolve problems.

OpenTelemetry has also created a more cost-effective infrastructure. It allows eBay to monitor their applications and those of its vendors. This helped eBay to identify and troubleshoot issues more quickly and cost-effectively.

Overall, OpenTelemetry has allowed eBay to monitor better, debug, and troubleshoot its applications, leading to faster issue resolution, improved developer productivity, and cost efficiencies.

The Natural connection between OpenTelemetry and Kubernetes

At eBay, the adoption of OpenTelemetry was intimately connected with Kubernetes:

Investing in such an initiative seemed a natural fit for how we consume Open Source at eBay, given our choice of Kubernetes, which also provides vendor-agnostic APIs to manage containers on the cloud. In 2021, we started experimenting with distributed tracing to determine how it might be useful for our developers.

Kubernetes has become a dominant technology in the last three years, but no one said it was easy to monitor. The inherent nature of multiple containers running in automated orchestration means it’s far from remoting into a server and running ‘top’ like back in the old days. 

OpenTelemetry helps developers monitor Kubernetes deployments by providing a comprehensive set of observability tools, especially distributed tracing and metrics. Its distributed tracing capabilities allow developers to trace the execution paths of their microservices and applications within their Kubernetes clusters. It also provides metrics that provide insight into cluster performance and resource utilization, helping developers identify areas for optimization. Additionally, its logging capabilities enable developers to troubleshoot application issues more effectively.

What this means for OpenTelemetry

Like any open standard for communication, OpenTelemetry can benefit massively from network effects. Every new case study increases awareness of how OpenTelemetry can benefit other teams. More importantly, every team working on the project has the chance to fix or find new bugs, increasing the robustness of the project.

OpenTelemetry provides an opportunity for teams to share the best practices that they have developed. By joining the project, teams can learn from other development teams and apply their successes to their products. This helps everyone involved improve faster than if everyone had gone about finding solutions independently.

So when the ebay team chose to adopt OpenTelemetry, it was much more than an endorsement. It increases the chances that any problem, bug, or easy opportunity for a useful feature gets found before it blocks your team’s use of OpenTelemetry. When large organizations adopt open standards, it benefits everyone else using the project.

How TelemetryHub can help

TelemetryHub is an OpenTelemetry endpoint with built-in dashboards and easy tools to share data with your team. Give us a try today to see how we can make your OpenTelemetry strategy faster, easier, and more efficient.