The CNCF Technical Oversight Committee (TOC) has voted to accept OpenTelemetry as a CNCF incubating project. OpenTelemetry is an observability framework for cloud native software. It is a collection of tools, APIs, and SDKs that can be used to instrument, generate, collect, and export telemetry data – which includes metrics, logs, and traces – for analysis to better understand software performance and behavior.

To be officially approved as an incubating project, the team added a Status page to clarify the stability around different project components, defined a governance structure, and adhere to the CNCF code of conduct

The OpenTelemetry project was created through the merger of the OpenCensus and OpenTracing projects in May 2019 and became a CNCF Sandbox project shortly thereafter. Since then, the OpenTelemetry team has built out APIs and SDKs in 11 languages and added full support for metrics and tracing in the OpenTelemetry Protocol (OTLP). 

The project has been adopted by many organizations, including F5, Grafana Labs, Shopify, Splunk, and others. Many end users and vendors are running OpenTelemetry in production and at scale. To date, more than 500 developers from 220 companies like Amazon, Dynatrace, Google, Honeycomb, Lightstep, Microsoft, Splunk, Uber, and more contribute to the project.

OpenTelemetry supports interoperability with other CNCF projects, including Fluentd, Jaeger, Prometheus, Cortex, OpenMetrics, and other projects.

“When we announced the OpenTelemetry project in 2019, we envisioned it as the next major version of both OpenTracing and OpenCensus,” said Ben Sigelman, one of the co-creators of both OpenTracing and OpenTelemetry. “With this milestone, we move closer towards achieving OpenTelemetry’s mission – to make high-quality telemetry a built-in feature for cloud native software. As such, this is an exciting day for us as members of the OpenTelemetry community, and also as members of the OpenTracing and OpenCensus communities.”

“As the joining of multiple observability projects, OpenTracing, which was a CNCF incubating project, and OpenCensus, OpenTelemetry represents the combined experience of two teams of experts,” said Alena Prokharchyk, CNCF TOC member and project sponsor. “The project is already widely adopted for its tracing capabilities, and we look forward to seeing the same for metrics and logging as these components mature.”  

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“Modern distributed cloud native systems can be incredibly complex to manage if an organization lacks the necessary telemetry data and visibility into their varied layers,” said Chris Aniszczyk, CTO of Cloud Native Computing Foundation. “We are thrilled to see OpenTelemetry mature to incubation by doing one of the more difficult things in open source, getting multiple overlapping communities (OpenTracing, OpenCensus) to combine efforts to level up the telemetry technology and specifications to benefit all. We look forward to cultivating their growing community as they continue to mature their specifications throughout the industry.”

Looking forward, the OpenTelemetry team plans to add a certification process similar to Kubernetes. The goal is to achieve 1.0 stability for all beta instrumentation libraries and collector tracing stability for tracing capabilities. In addition, the metrics specification is expected to reach 1.0 soon and will include full Prometheus and OpenMetrics compatibility. Longer-term, the OpenTelemetry team strives to instrument libraries and projects natively and is already making traction with Kubernetes API server instrumentation. Both OpenTracing and OpenCensus will be further deprecated in the coming weeks, with OpenTracing being formally archived by the CNCF TOC.

As a CNCF-hosted project, OpenTelemetry is part of a neutral foundation aligned with its technical interests, as well as the larger Linux Foundation, which provides governance, marketing support, and community outreach. With this latest announcement, OpenTelemetry joins other Incubating projects, including Argo, Buildpacks, CloudEvents, CNI, Contour, Cortex, CRI-O, Dragonfly, emissary-ingress, Falco, Flux, gRPC, KEDA, KubeEdge, Linkerd, NATS, Notary, Operator Framework, Rook, SPIFFE, SPIRE, and Thanos. For more information on maturity requirements for each level, please visit the CNCF Graduation Criteria.