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AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry Available for Public Preview

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Recently, AWS announced the public preview of the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry, a secure, production-ready, AWS-supported distribution of the OpenTelemetry project. With the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry, developers can instrument their applications in one go to send correlated metrics and traces to multiple monitoring solutions ranging from Amazon Cloudwatch to Datadog and Grafana.

OpenTelemetry is an observability framework - software and tools that assist in generating and capturing telemetry data from cloud-native software. It is a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) Sandbox project with stakeholders from companies like AWS, Microsoft, Google, LightStep, New Relic, Red Hat, and Splunk – who collaborate on defining an open standard for the collection of distributed traces and metrics. 

Developers can use the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry to instrument their applications running on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS), Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS), and AWS Fargate, as well as on-premises once with OpenTelemetry components. Subsequently, they can send correlated performance data to AWS monitoring services, including Amazon CloudWatch and AWS X-Ray for monitoring and analysis. 

Furthermore, developers can configure and deploy the latest version of the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry for container services, and EC2 by using AWS CloudFormation templates, AWS Command Line Interface, or by using the Kubectl commands.


The public preview of the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry consists of several components such as:

  • AWS enhanced upstream OpenTelemetry SDKs including a collection of AWS resource-specific metadata elements, including container identifier, EC2 instance identifier, Task, and Pod identifier. Furthermore, there is support for the X-Ray trace format and context, and correlation of ingested trace and metrics data from X-Ray and CloudWatch.
  • A Java auto-instrumentation agent in OpenTelemetry supporting AWS SDK and X-Ray trace data. Other languages and environments .NET and JavaScript will follow soon - and support for Python, Ruby, Go, C++, Erlang, and Rust later. Note that the auto-instrumentation agent can identify the frameworks and languages used by the applications - and automatically instruments them to collect and forward metrics and traces.
  • An OpenTelemetry Collector including AWS-specific exporters such C++ Prometheus exporter to send traces to X-Ray and metrics to CloudWatch. Note that the collector can be launched as a sidecar or daemon set for EKS, a sidecar for ECS, or an agent on EC2.

Alolita Sharma, principal technologist at AWS, and Nizar Tyrewalla, principal product manager at AWS, wrote in an AWS Open Source blog about the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry:

AWS shares the core values of the upstream OpenTelemetry project, including reducing the costs of software telemetry instrumentation and ensuring the availability of open-source, high-quality technologies that everyone can use. 

Also, a respondent on Reddit stated in a thread on the purpose of the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry:

They (AWS) are consolidating tools, APIs, and mechanisms into a purpose-built distro - similar to Asterisk, Fedora Jam, or Kali. Since multi-purpose bare-metal, VMs, or even containers are no longer necessary, narrow-focused environments make for less waste, fewer patching cycles, and better interaction between components.

Lastly, Developers can learn more about the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry through the documentation page of the developer portal. Furthermore, developers can download the AWS Distro for OpenTelemetry to try it out.

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