18. January 2019
2 min

inspectIT to catch the OpenCensus wave

The inspectIT team is happy to announce the start of the inspectIT OCE project, which aims to combine features of the existing inspectIT APM project and the flexibility of the OpenCensus instrumentation library. Our goal is to create a production-ready Java agent that provides the automatic collection of metrics and traces using the OpenCensus standard, without the need to manually instrument your application and change the source code.

At the beginning of 2018 the inspectIT team was on the important crossroad. After 12 years of inspectIT development, we need to make important decisions about the future of the product. We decided to listen to our users. The feedback we had been receiving from our customers clearly stated two things:

  1. inspectIT is a great product with awesome features
  2. inspectIT lacks the needed stability and security to be used in the production

It’s never easy with such feedback. You learn that people like the product, but at the same time they are hindered from using it where it really matters – the production.

When we started the inspectIT project back in early 2006 we decided to focus on developers and provide them with a free alternative to the commercial APM tools. We were targeting test and pre-prod environments. However, the DevOps movement brought developers way closer to production environments. Cloud-native applications became a reality. In the open source APM world, we saw a rise of the tools like Zipkin, Jaeger, Prometheus, etc. Small, bulletproof tools which are usually covering one aspect in the APM landscape. inspectIT at the same time was robust, not-scalable, not-secure, simply a tool from past times and something that needed a serious upgrade.

But instead of jumping on the needed updates, the inspectIT team decided to back off. We took almost a year to peacefully think about the whole situation. We announced that inspectIT line 1.x is reaching the end of life and that we are actively working on something new. Meanwhile, we launched the openapm.io website trying to show to everyone how awesome the open source APM  world currently is.

Today we are happy to announce that inspectIT story will continue as we started the spin-off project – inspectIT OpenCensus Edition.

inspectIT OpenCensus Edition is a Java agent that provides the automatic collection of metrics and traces using OpenCensus standard. Using Java Instrumentation API, the inspectIT OCE agent is capable to instrument any JVM-based application with a zero-configuration approach. It overcomes the problem of instrumentation libraries like OpenCensus that require you to manually instrument your application and change the source code.

That’s right, we are building a Java agent based on the OpenCensus library. Compared to the former inspectIT, the OC edition follows the approach of focusing on compatibility and interaction with other awesome open source tools. In addition, we will inherit the scalability and security that OpenCensus provides by default. And the best is that you can expect that most of the features from the old agent are gonna be available in the new one sooner or later. We are bringing a lot of new things as well.

Expect the following improvements with inspectIT OpenCensus Edition:

  • stable, scalable, production-ready Java agent
  • inherently compatible and integrable with many open source monitoring tools like Zipkin, Jaeger, Prometheus, Influx TICK-Stack, etc.
  • meaningful instrumentation with default (zero) configuration
  • flexibility and ability to adapt data collection through powerful configuration and instrumentation definition
  • fully dynamic (re-)instrumentation, with zero downtime of the target system
  • self-monitoring that provides transparent insights into the agent’s performance overhead

Stay tuned for upcoming blogs about the new project. In the meantime check our GitHub repository , take a glimpse into our released milestone documentation, and get hands on inspectIT OCE with our Docker Compose demo scenarios.

Your feedback is always welcome, get in touch with us!

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