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OpenTelemetry: The Merger of OpenCensus and OpenTracing

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

We’ve talked about OpenCensus a lot over the past few years, from the project’s initial announcement, roots at Google and partners (Microsoft, Dynatrace) joining the project, to new functionality that we’re continually adding. The project has grown beyond our expectations and now sports a mature ecosystem with Google, Microsoft, Omnition, Postmates, and Dynatrace making major investments, and a broad base of community contributors.

We recently announced that OpenCensus and OpenTracing are merging into a single project, now called OpenTelemetry, which brings together the best of both projects and has a frictionless migration experience. We’ve made a lot of progress so far: we’ve established a governance committee, a Java prototype API + implementation, workgroups for each language, and an aggressive implementation schedule.

Today we’re highlighting the combined project at the keynote of Kubecon and announcing that OpenTelemetry is now officially part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation! Full details are available in the CNCF’s official blog post, which we’ve copied below:

A Brief History of OpenTelemetry (So Far)

After many months of planning, discussion, prototyping, more discussion, and more planning, OpenTracing and OpenCensus are merging to form OpenTelemetry, which is now a CNCF sandbox project. The seed governance committee is composed of representatives from Google, Lightstep, Microsoft, and Uber, and more organizations are getting involved every day.

And we couldn't be happier about it – here’s why.

Observability, Outputs, and High-Quality Telemetry

Observability is a fashionable word with some admirably nerdy and academic origins. In control theory, “observability” measures how well we can understand the internals of a given system using only its external outputs. If you’ve ever deployed or operated a modern, microservice-based software application, you have no doubt struggled to understand its performance and behavior, and that’s because those “outputs” are usually meager at best. We can’t understand a complex system if it’s a black box. And the only way to light up those black boxes is with high-quality telemetry: distributed traces, metrics, logs, and more.

So how can we get our hands – and our tools – on precise, low-overhead telemetry from the entirety of a modern software stack? One way would be to carefully instrument every microservice, piece by piece, and layer by layer. This would literally work, it’s also a complete non-starter – we’d spend as much time on the measurement as we would on the software itself! We need telemetry as a built-in feature of our services.

The OpenTelemetry project is designed to make this vision a reality for our industry, but before we describe it in more detail, we should first cover the history and context around OpenTracing and OpenCensus.

OpenTracing and OpenCensus

In practice, there are several flavors (or “verticals” in the diagram) of telemetry data, and then several integration points (or “layers” in the diagram) available for each. Broadly, the cloud-native telemetry landscape is dominated by distributed traces, timeseries metrics, and logs; and end-users typically integrate with a thin instrumentation API or via straightforward structured data formats that describe those traces, metrics, or logs.



For several years now, there has been a well-recognized need for industry-wide collaboration in order to amortize the shared cost of software instrumentation. OpenTracing and OpenCensus have led the way in that effort, and while each project made different architectural choices, the biggest problem with either project has been the fact that there were two of them. And, further, that the two projects weren’t working together and striving for mutual compatibility.

Having two similar-yet-not-identical projects out in the world created confusion and uncertainty for developers, and that made it harder for both efforts to realize their shared mission: built-in, high-quality telemetry for all.

Getting to One Project

If there’s a single thing to understand about OpenTelemetry, it’s that the leadership from OpenTracing and OpenCensus are co-committed to migrating their respective communities to this single and unified initiative. Although all of us have numerous ideas about how we could boil the ocean and start from scratch, we are resisting those impulses and focusing instead on preparing our communities for a successful transition; our priorities for the merger are clear:
  • Straightforward backwards compatibility with both OpenTracing and OpenCensus (via software bridges)
  • Minimizing the time where OpenTelemetry, OpenTracing, and OpenCensus are being co-developed: we plan to put OpenTracing and OpenCensus into “readonly mode” before the end of 2019.
  • And, again, to simplify and standardize the telemetry solutions available to developers.
In many ways, it’s most accurate to think of OpenTelemetry as the next major version of both OpenTracing and OpenCensus. Like any version upgrade, we will try to make it easy for both new and existing end-users, but we recognize that the main benefit to the ecosystem is the consolidation itself – not some specific and shiny new feature – and we are prioritizing our own efforts accordingly.

How you can help

OpenTelemetry’s timeline is an aggressive one. While we have many open-source and vendor-licensed observability solutions providing guidance, we will always want as many end-users involved as possible. The single most valuable thing any end-user can do is also one of the easiest: check out the actual work we’re doing and provide feedback. Via GitHub, Gitter, email, or whatever feels easiest.

Of course we also welcome code contributions to OpenTelemetry itself, code contributions that add OpenTelemetry support to existing software projects, documentation, blog posts, and the rest of it. If you’re interested, you can sign up to join the integration effort by filling in this form.

By Ben Sigelman, co-creator of OpenTracing and member of the OpenTelemetry governing committee, and Morgan McLean, Product Manager for OpenCensus at Google since the project’s inception

Google fosters the open source hardware community

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Open source silicon promises new challenges and opportunities for both industry and the open source community. To take full advantage of open silicon we will need new design methodologies, new governance models, and increased collaborations between industry, academia, and not for profits. A vibrant free and open source software community has been vital to both Google and our customer’s success. We look forward to supporting the new domain of open source silicon to similarly benefit all participants.

Working through its Open Source Programs Office (OSPO), Google is actively engaged in helping seed the open silicon space. Specifically by providing funding, strategic, and legal support to key open hardware efforts including lowRISC and CHIPS alliance.

lowRISC

lowRISC is a leader in open silicon community outreach, technical documentation, and advancing the goal of a truly open source system on a chip. We have long supported lowRISC’s mission of transparently implemented silicon and robust engagement of the open source silicon community, providing funding, advice, and recognizing their open source community leadership by selecting them as a Google Summer of Code mentoring organization.

Similar to the benefits of open source software, we believe our users will derive great outcomes from open source silicon. Besides enabling and encouraging innovation, chip designs derived from a common, open baseline will provide the benefit of implementation choice while still guaranteeing software compatibility and a set of common interfaces. With regards to security, the transparency of an open source approach is critical to both bugfinding and establishing implementation trustworthiness.

"Google has encouraged and supported lowRISC since the very start. They clearly share our optimism for what open source hardware can offer and our community-driven vision of the future. We are excited by the expanding open source RISC-V ecosystem and look forward to lowRISC community IP being deployed in the real world,” said Alex Bradbury, Co-founder and Director. “We believe lowRISC can act as an important catalyst for open source silicon, providing a shared engineering resource to ensure quality, provide support and help to maintain IP from a range of partners.”
lowRISC board members (L to R): Dominic Rizzo (Google), Alex Bradbury (lowRISC), Gavin Ferris (lowRISC), Dr Robert Mullins (University of Cambridge), Prof. Luca Benini (ETH Zürich), and Ron Minnich (Google, not pictured).
A first example of Google’s ongoing collaboration with ETH Zürich and lowRISC is the recently released “Ibex” RISC-V core. ETH Zürich donated their Zero-riscy core as a starting point and technical work to extend the core was done across all three organizations. You can learn more about Google’s collaboration with lowRISC on the RISC-V core here.

Furthermore, Google is excited to announce that it is joining the board of lowRISC, with the appointment of Dominic Rizzo and Ronald Minnich as corporate directors.

CHIPS Alliance 

Along with our increased funding, support and collaboration with lowRISC, we are also happy to announce our status as a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s CHIPS Alliance project. CHIPS Alliance features an industry-driven, collaborative model to release high-quality silicon IP and supporting technical collateral. Most recently, in collaboration with CHIPS Alliance, we released a Universal Verification Methodology (UVM) instruction stream generator to aid in the verification of RISC-V cores. We believe such open sourcing of verification tools will prove critical to the long-term success of the open source silicon community.

Google has been an early, strong supporter of the open silicon community. We believe deeply in a future where transparent, trustworthy open source chip designs are commonplace. To get there, we are committed to establishing a collaborative, community-focused, open source basis for free and open silicon design.

By Parthasarathy Ranganathan, Distinguished Engineer, Google and Dominic Rizzo, Open Silicon Tech Lead, Google 

Summer is here! Welcome to our 2019 GSoC Students!

Monday, May 6, 2019


After reviewing 7,555 student proposals, our 206 mentoring organizations have chosen the 1,276 students they will be working with during the 15th Google Summer of Code (GSoC). Congratulations to our 2019 GSoC students and a big thank you to everyone who applied. This year’s students come from 64 countries!

The next step for participating students is the Community Bonding period which runs from May 6 through May 27. During this time, students will get up to speed on the culture and code base of their new community. They’ll also get acquainted with their mentor(s) and learn more about the languages or tools that they will need to complete their projects. Coding begins May 27 and will continue throughout the summer until August 26.

If you were not selected for this year’s Summer of Code - don’t be discouraged! Many students apply more than once to GSoC before being accepted. You can improve your odds for next time by contributing to the open source project of your choice directly now; organizations are always eager for new contributors! Look around for a project that interests you and get started.

Happy coding, everyone!

By Stephanie Taylor, GSoC Program Lead

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