Observability: Fundamentals & Practice

Modern systems architecture often splits functionality into microservices for adaptability and velocity. The challenge of managing infrastructure for microservices has led to the cloud native ecosystem, including Kubernetes, Envoy, gRPC, and other projects. Observability, including application performance management (APM), is an essential component of a cloud-native stack. Without observability, application developers and operators cannot understand the behavior of their applications and ensure the reliability of those applications.

    How should you approach creating an observability strategy? This workshop is divided into two parts: (1) a theoretical element covering how APM and tracing interoperate with previous-generation monitoring solution such as metrics and logs, and how to introduce tracing and observability into your organization, followed by (2) a detailed hands-on workshop module covering the current state of the art vendor-neutral instrumentation standard OpenTelemetry.

    OpenTelemetry (the successor to OpenCensus and OpenTracing) is a standardized library and specification that collects distributed traces and metrics from instrumented services. By instrumenting once with OpenTelemetry, developers and operators can understand how data and events flow through their applications through a variety of different visualization backends.

    In this workshop, you’ll learn how to instrument a distributed set of microservices for traceability using OpenTelemetry, and how to analyze your service’s traces using open source software backends like Jaeger/Zipkin. Finally, you’ll be able to leverage OpenTelemetry vendor-neutral flexibility to try out other tracing backends such as the hosted SaaS product Honeycomb, without recompiling. And you can go home feeling comfortable with implementing OpenTelemetry in your own applications, and being prepared to choose how you will store and visualize traces.

    What the attendee will learn:

    • The benefits of observability-driven development
    • How to decide upon an observability strategy
    • How to migrate from a logs and metrics monitoring strategy to a tracing and APM based observability strategy.
    • How to implement the fundamental building block of observability: the trace with wide event spans.

    Program Outline:

    Day 1 (Fundamentals):


    • A history of monitoring and observability (1h)
    • The five key areas of observability maturity (1h)
    • How monitoring and logging have worked in the past, and where they break down. (1h)
    • Why traces and wide events are the future of APM and observability (1h)
    • How to introduce tracing into a complex microservices environment. (2h)

    Day 2 (Practice):


    • Effective Instrumentation using OpenTelemetry (3h)
    • Advanced visualization and debugging using OpenTelemetry (1h)
    • Open time to implement OpenTelemetry in your own applications with instructor and peer guidance (2h)

    Target Audience

    • Hands-on engineering managers
    • Technical lead engineers
    • Instrumentation/observability/platform engineering individual contributors

    Audience Requirements

    The preferred audience for this course should have the following requirements:

    • Proficient in Go.
    • Some experience with distributed systems and microservices (e.g. RPC calls) is necessary.
    Liz Fong-Jones
    Principal Dev Advocate, honeycomb

    Liz is a developer advocate, labor and ethics organizer, and Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) with 15+ years of experience. She is an advocate at Honeycomb.io for the SRE and Observability communities, and previously was an SRE working on products ranging from the Google Cloud Load Balancer to Google Flights.

    She lives in Brooklyn with her wife Elly, metamours, and a Samoyed/Golden Retriever mix, and in San Francisco and Seattle with her other partners. She plays classical piano, leads an EVE Online alliance, and advocates for transgender rights as a board member of the National Center for Transgender Equality.

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