Pros and Cons of Installing the OpenTelemetry Collector

Pros and Cons of Installing the OpenTelemetry Collector

The OpenTelemetry Collector is an application written in Go. The GitHub readme does a great job of describing it:

The OpenTelemetry Collector offers a vendor-agnostic implementation on how to receive, process and export telemetry data. In addition, it removes the need to run, operate and maintain multiple agents/collectors in order to support open-source telemetry data formats (e.g. Jaeger, Prometheus, etc.) sending to multiple open-source or commercial back-ends.

Objectives:

Usable: Reasonable default configuration, supports popular protocols, runs and collects out of the box.

Performant: Highly stable and performant under varying loads and configurations.

Observable: An exemplar of an observable service.

Extensible: Customizable without touching the core code.

Unified: Single codebase, deployable as an agent or collector with support for traces, metrics and logs.

So the OpenTelemetry collector is a Go binary that does exactly what its name implies: it collects data and sends it to a back-end. But there’s a lot of functionality that lies in between.

What a neat service! A local destination for data that handles the final sending of Open Telemetry information to your back end. But let’s cover some of the reasons you might not install the Otel collector.

Cons of Installing the Otel Collector

These seem like reasonable concerns, but the standard documentation on Open Telemetry recommends that the collector almost always be used. The reasons you should use an Otel collector on your service are as follows.

Pros of Installing the Otel Collector

Should you run an Open Telemetry Collector? Yes probably. The short time you’ll spend configuring your collector can save you countless headaches down the road. And if you share responsibility for configuration, you’ll spread awareness of your stack’s observability setup. 

Finally, by establishing a collector process, now you’re preparing yourself for future expansion. When you need more security steps, processing of observability data, or reporting of data to more than one location, you’ll be ready.

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