OpenTelemetry at KubeCon NA 2019

Sergey Kanzhelev
Dec 2, 2019 · 6 min read

This is an overview of what has happened a couple of weeks back at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America and related events with OpenTelemetry.

KubeCon was a great opportunity to meet each other in-person and learn something new. Before KubeCon, the W3C Distributed Tracing Working Group met for the two days workshop, Observability Practitioners Summit was held at KubeCon Day 0, and there was plenty of buzz around OpenTelemetry at the main event. You can watch talk recordings on the OpenTelemetry channel on YouTube. Read along for more details.

KubeCon keynote

The highlight of the conference for OpenTelemetry community was a keynote presentation by Sarah Novotny (Open Source Wonk, Azure OCTO, Microsoft) and Liz Fong-Jones (Principal Developer Advocate, “Keynote: (Open)Telemetry Makes Observability Simple was a massive event, with 12,000 people watching in-person. Liz and Sarah discussed the importance of community in achieving our mission of making telemetry a built-in feature of cloud native software. Liz also demoed the OpenTelemetry Go SDK in action. You can watch the recording here.

OpenTelemetry keynote — GoLang SDK demo

OpenTelemetry keynote was a blast! But let’s get back and describe events chronologically.

W3C distributed tracing working group workshop

W3C Distributed Tracing Working Group workshop was hosted in Seattle — the famous cloud city. We discussed the current status of the Trace Context specification and future improvements. The main focus was made on passing identifiers via response headers, correlation context and advancing trace context into other protocols. The full report from the workshop is available on the W3C blog.

The great achievement of a working group is that just a few days after the workshop, Trace Context graduated to the proposed recommendation and targeting early next year to become a final spec.

The following week, many Distributed Tracing Working Group members flew from Seattle to sunny San Diego. Spoiler alert, we brought some rain there.

Observability practitioners summit

The Observability Practitioners Summit was a Day Zero event at KubeCon, focused on pushing the field of monitoring and observability forwards by providing a mix of high-quality talks and opportunities for discussion between the maintainers and users of tracing, metrics, logging, and alerting systems.

OPS had a packed schedule, with talks covering all things observability. It was interesting to see people from industry, academia, and end users talking about problems and solutions in this space.

Recorded talks from OPS are available in this YouTube playlist.


Austin Parker and Liz Fong-Jones hosted a live stream of the event on Twitch. If you haven’t checked out the OpenTelemetry Twitch channel, now is a great time to subscribe.

The live stream included discussions of the event and interviews with OPS speakers, as well as conversations with other people involved with observability and OpenTelemetry.

#OpsLive set up. Interview with Nina Stawski

Monday OpenTelemetry meetup

For OpenTelemetry folks, the long day of Observability Practitioners Summit ended with an OpenTelemetry meetup, which was held in a bar and featured great tacos (organized and sponsored by LightStep and Google).

KubeCon sessions

Beyond the OpenTelemetry keynote, there was a lot of buzz around OpenTelemetry at the conference. OpenTelemetry was the subject of a few different talks.

In the session Beyond Getting Started: Using OpenTelemetry to Its Full Potential, Sergey Kanzhelev, Microsoft and Morgan McLean, Google, demonstrated how developers can capture telemetry from their applications with just two lines of code and how to solve advanced real-world scenarios. We had over 900 people registered to attend and 450+ people in the room. Lots of interest in OpenTelemetry!

Full room for the OpenTelemetry talk

You can watch the recording on YouTube.

The OpenTelemetry Governance Committee held an extended Q&A session at OpenTelemetry: The First Release, What’s Next, and How to Get Involved. Session was presented by Morgan McLean, Google, Tristan Sloughter, Postmates, Sergey Kanzhelev, Microsoft, and Chris Kleinknecht, Google. From this session you can get a deep dive in OpenTelemetry architecture and understand how different components of OpenTelemetry will be used by different people depending on their role. Session also explained all the ways you can get involved with OpenTelemetry. Watch the recording on YouTube.

The Governance Committee extended Q&A

Rob Skillington, Chronosphere at the session Deep Linking Metrics and Traces with OpenTelemetry, OpenMetrics and M3 was discussing questions of finding a good traces as examples for the metrics dimension set. And was using OpenTelemetry to implement this linking. Watch the recording on YouTube.

You can browse more sessions from the KubeCon on observability track. For instance, you may find interesting the topic of Kubernetes SIG Instrumentation — Deep Dive presented by Han Kang & David Ashpole, Google.

Meetup at KubeCon attendees party

Brian Putt called for a meet up during the KubeCon attendee party at community e-mail distribution list. It was nice to see everybody before the last day of the conference. We started inside as it was raining, but then the rain stopped and the crowd get bigger so we moved the meetup to the outside.

OpenTelemetry meet up — first arrivals

Some announcements

If you are new to OpenTelemetry and want to learn more of Merging OpenTracing and OpenCensus — watch this interview with Ben Sigelman and Morgan McLean.

During KubeCon, Splunk announced upcoming major investments in OpenTelemetry

And shortly after KubeCon — Undefined Labs announced contribution of a Swift SDK to OpenTelemetry. Please stay tuned for more mobile and client devices telemetry collection improvements.


OpenTelemetry is accelerating quickly. We have a great community with common goals and vision. It was exciting to see that every OpenTelemetry event and most sessions were co-organized and co-presented by people from different companies.

If you attended and have some thoughts, photos or recommendations to share — please post those at community Gitter channel or in the comments.

KubeCon is one of the events where people share knowledge and meet in person. If you weren’t able to come, we hope that this summary will help you catch up on what was happening during that week.

More photos from KubeCon

There are a few more photos at KubeCon flickr album.

Sarah Novotny during OpenTelemetry keynote

Thank you Amelia Mango, Morgan McLean and Yuri Shkuro for the help preparing this report.


Sergey Kanzhelev

Written by


OpenTelemetry makes robust, portable telemetry a built-in feature of cloud-native software, and is the next major version of both OpenTracing and OpenCensus.

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