Erlang Ecosystem Foundation – Observability Working Group Proposal

Working Group Name


Mission Statement

Evolve the tools in the ecosystem related to observability, such as metrics, distributed tracing and logging, with a strong focus on interoperability between BEAM languages.

Main Objectives

  • Improved runtime observability through integration with modern offerings — Zipkin, Jaeger, DataDog, Prometheus, Honeycomb, LightStep, Stackdriver and many more — without vendor lock in.
  • Improve state of whitebox monitoring of BEAM applications
  • Review possibilities to improve blackbox monitoring of BEAM (dtrace, eBPF)
  • Provide common interfaces to viewing and gathering VM and application statistics and traces
  • Cooperation with major OAM providers like New Relic to provide proper commercial support for Erlang monitoring

Benefits to the community

  • Provide tooling that will allow more integrated and application-wide monitoring, logging, and tracing in BEAM
  • BEAM integrating smoothly with other languages and services
  • Consolidate efforts across languages and combine tools
  • Encourage and assist library developers to make things observable
  • Encourage and make it easier for application developers to make their systems observable
  • Make it easier for users of the virtual machine to integrate it in polyglot environments where existing monitoring systems are already in place, and where lack of support is a blocker to adoption

Short term deliverables

  • Living document for current best practices for observability with a blog post on a prominent Erlang site like Erlang Solutions or the Foundation website to go along with it
  • Standard Logger/logger infrastructure to collect structured logs (logs, error reports and stacktraces) from both Erlang and Elixir.
  • Support for metrics and traces of popular Erlang and Elixir libraries (Hackney, Ecto, Phoenix, etc) through Telemetry and OpenCensus.
  • Support for HTTP and binary context propagation for distributed tracing in popular Erlang and Elixir libraries.

Long term deliverables

  • Helping library authors add standard instrumentation hooks (e.g. Telemetry or potentially even OpenCensus as it becomes more of a standard)

Why does this group require the Foundation

  • Promotion: Being a central group for user’s to find information on instrumenting and observing BEAM systems and promoting solutions to the community through the Foundation.
  • Coordination of work across languages and libraries. Bringing together the work as a central place to bring suggestions and PRs to the OTP team.

Initial list of volunteers

  • Tristan Sloughter (OpenCensus)
  • Vince Foley (New Relic)
  • Łukasz Niemier (OpenCensus)
  • Ilya Khaprov (prometheus.erl, prometheus.ex, OpenCensus)
  • Bryan Naegele
  • Greg Mefford (Spandex)
  • Arkadiusz Gil (Telemetry)
  • Zach Daniel (Spandex)
  • Mark Allen (Lager)
  • Andrew Thompson (Lager)
  • Jose Valim