OpenTelemetry

Note: The OpenTelemetry support in Instana is in technical preview. We are hard at work to make OpenTelemetry a first-class citizen with full interoperability with Instana.

Using our host agent processes as proxy, OpenTelemetry implementations can send tracing and metric data to the Instana agent. The data is then sent to the Instana backend for processing.

OpenTelemetry is still under development. For this reason, parts are not yet specified and therefore not finally released. The current project status of OpenTelemetry can be found on the status page of OpenTelemetry.

Activating OpenTelemetry support

In the Technical Preview phase, OpenTelemetry ingestion in the host agent is deactivated by default. To enable the reception of OpenTelemetry data in the host agent, add the following snippet to your host agent's configuration.yaml:

com.instana.plugin.opentelemetry:
  enabled: true

After activating the configuration above, the host agent will activate on port 4317 (the default gRPC port) an ingestor for OpenTelemetry's default otlp exporter.

OpenTelemetry Exporters

Customers running applications in serverless environments such as AWS Lambda can benefit from Instana Exporters.

Currently, Instana OpenTelemetry exporters are available only for Node.js applications.

TLS Encryption for OpenTelemetry Ingestion

TLS encryption can be enabled on the Agent, so that all data send to the OpenTelemetry ingestion endpoint is TLS encrypted as well. See Enabling TLS Encryption for more information on how to set this up.

OpenTelemetry Logs

Collection of OpenTelemetry logs is not supported. The host agent will show some benign exceptions if it receives OpenTelemetry logs data.

OpenTelemetry Metrics

OpenTelemetry metrics appear as "OpenTelemetry Custom Metrics" associated with the host or with the process from where they are collected. You can query OpenTelemetry custom metrics using the "Dynamic Focus" and "Event & Alerts" with entity.type:opentelemetry or entity.type:otel.

The sensor collects the below core metrics:

  • Gauges
  • Histograms
  • Summaries

OpenTelemetry Tracing

Note: We are hard at work to make OpenTelemetry a first-class citizen with full interoperability with Instana's own AutoTrace technology!

Current Scope

  • Correlate OpenTelemetry traces that use the default W3C Trace Context exporter over HTTP communication from Instana-monitored applications to OpenTelemetry monitored ones.
  • Some support for the trace data semantics conventions.

Using OpenTelemetry with other trace protocols

OpenTelemetry supports exporters others than its native otlp, like Zipkin and Jaeger, as well as matching context-propagators. When using Jaeger or Zipkin exporters, the host agent will be able to ingest the data and process them the same as with other Zipkin and Jaeger implementations; refer to the Zipkin documentation and Jaeger documentation, respectively.

Known Limitations

  • No trace continuity with protocols other than HTTP; there is currently no common specification in the industry for propagating trace contexts with protocols other than HTTP, that is, there is no non-HTTP equivalent to W3C Trace Context.
  • OpenTelemetry links are not supported.
  • Mixing the default context propagator with exporters other than otlp is not supported.

Infrastructure correlation

For detailed information on infrastructure correlation on Linux hosts, please review the documentation on the agent's HTTP API endpoint.

Note: The optional Instana Agent Service provided on Kubernetes via the Instana Agent Helm Chart is very useful in combination with the OpenTelemetry support. It ensures that the data is forwarded to the Instana Agent which runs on the same Kubernetes node. This allows the Instana Agent to populate the infrastructure correlation data correctly.