OpenTelemetry can auto-instrument your Java Spring Boot application to capture telemetry data from a number of popular libraries and frameworks that your application might be using. It can be used to collect logs, metrics, and traces from your Spring Boot application. Let's learn how it works.
OpenTelemetry is a vendor-agnostic instrumentation library that is used to generate telemetry data like logs, metrics, and traces. Using OpenTelemetry and SigNoz, you can collect logs, metrics, and traces and visualize everything under a single pane of glass.
In this tutorial, you will auto-instrument a sample spring boot application for traces with OpenTelemetry Java Jar agent. You will also configure Micrometer and Spring Boot actuator to expose JVM metrics in Prometheus format. Lastly, we will also talk briefly about collecting logs from Spring Boot application using OpenTelemetry.
What is OpenTelemetry?OpenTelemetry is a set of API, SDKs, libraries, and integrations aiming to standardize the generation, collection, and management of telemetry data(logs, metrics, and traces). OpenTelemetry is a Cloud Native Computing Foundation project created after the merger of OpenCensus(from Google) and OpenTracing(From Uber).
The data you collect with OpenTelemetry is vendor-agnostic and can be exported in many formats. Telemetry data has become critical to observe the state of distributed systems. With microservices and polyglot architectures, there was a need to have a global standard. OpenTelemetry aims to fill that space and is doing a great job at it thus far.
There are two important components in OpenTelemetry that comes in handy to collect telemetry data:
For Java applications, OpenTelemetry provides a JAR agent that can be attached to any Java 8+ application. It can detect a number of popular libraries and frameworks and instrument applications right out of the box for generating telemetry data.
It is a stand-alone service provided by OpenTelemetry. It can be used as a telemetry-processing system with a lot of flexible configurations to collect and manage telemetry data.
Typically, here's how an application architecture instrumented with OpenTelemetry looks like.
OpenTelemetry provides client libraries and agents for most of the popular programming languages. There are two types of instrumentation:
OpenTelmetry can collect data for many popular frameworks and libraries automatically. You don’t have to make any code changes.
- Manual instrumentation
If you want more application-specific data, OpenTelemetry SDK provides you with the capabilities to capture that data using OpenTelemetry APIs and SDKs.
For Spring Boot applications, we can use the OpenTelemetry Java Jar agent. We just need to download the latest version of the Java Jar agent and run the application with it.
OpenTelemetry does not provide storage and visualization layer for the collected data. The advantage of using OpenTelemetry is that it can export the collected data in many different formats. So you're free to choose your telemetry backend. Natively, OpenTelemetry supports a wire protocol known as
OTLP. This protocol sends the data to OpenTelemetry Collector as shown in the diagram above.
In this tutorial, we will use SigNoz, an open-source APM as the backend and visualization layer.
Steps to get started with OpenTelemetry for Spring Boot application:
- Installing SigNoz
- Installing sample Spring Boot app
- Auto instrumentation with OpenTelemetry and sending data to SigNoz
Step 1 - Installing SigNoz
SigNoz can be installed on macOS or Linux computers in just three steps by using a simple install script.
The install script automatically installs Docker Engine on Linux. However, on macOS, you must manually install Docker Engine before running the install script.
git clone -b main https://github.com/SigNoz/signoz.git
You can visit our documentation for instructions on how to install SigNoz using various methods.
You can also sign up for SigNoz cloud. The cloud version gives you access to some paid-only features as well as customer support. You can try SigNoz cloud for free for 30 days.
When you are done installing SigNoz, you can access the UI at http://localhost:3301
Step 2 - Installing Sample Spring Boot application
If you don't have Java installed, first install it from the official website.
For this tutorial, we will use a sample Spring Boot application built using Maven. You can find the code for the application at its GitHub repo.
Git clone the repository and go to the root folder
git clone https://github.com/SigNoz/spring-petclinic.git
Run the application using the following commands.
java -jar target/*.jar
You can now access the application UI here: http://localhost:8090/
Once you ensure that your application runs fine, stop it with
ctrl + c on mac, as we will be launching the application with the Java agent downloaded from OpenTelemetry.
Step 3 - Downloading OpenTelemetry Java Jar agent
Download the latest Java JAR agent. You will need the path of this file, so note it down somewhere. You can also use the terminal to get this file using the following command:
OpenTelemetry Java JAR agent can be attached to any Java 8+ application. The JAR agent can detect a number of popular libraries and frameworks and instrument it right out of the box. You don't need to add any code for that.
The auto-instrumentation takes care of generating traces from the application. SigNoz uses the trace data to report key application metrics like p99 latency, request rates, and error rates with out-of-box charts and visualization. Let's learn how to enable auto-instrumentation.
Step 4 - Running the application with relevant environment variables
Now you need to enable the instrumentation agent as well as run your sample application. You can do so by the following command:
OTEL_EXPORTER_OTLP_ENDPOINT="http://<IP of SigNoz>:4317" OTEL_RESOURCE_ATTRIBUTES=service.name=javaApp java -javaagent:/path/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar -jar target/*.jar
As you are running this on your local host, you need to replace `IP of SigNoz` with `localhost`. You will also need to update the path for your downloaded Java JAR agent. You will replace following two things:
IP of SigNoz:
Users/cruxaki/Downloads(For my local)
Your final command will look like this:
OTEL_EXPORTER_OTLP_ENDPOINT="http://localhost:4317" OTEL_RESOURCE_ATTRIBUTES=service.name=javaApp java -javaagent:/Users/cruxaki/Downloads/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar -jar target/*.jar
Note the path is updated for my local environment. If you are using a virtual machine, you need to update the IP accordingly. You also need to have the Java JAR agent on the same machine.
You can also use
-D option to install the java agent.
java -javaagent:/path/opentelemetry-javaagent.jar \
-Dotel.exporter.otlp.endpoint=http://<IP of SigNoz>:4317 \
Step 5 - Monitoing your Spring Boot Application in SigNoz
Check out the Spring Pet Clinic app at: http://localhost:8090/ and play around with it to generate some load. You can try refreshing the endpoint multiple times to generate load. Now you open the
Services tab of SigNoz dashboard to see your Spring Boot Application being monitored.
Below you can find your javaApp in the list of applications being monitored.
Application Metrics and Traces of the Spring Boot application
SigNoz makes it easy to visualize metrics and traces captured through OpenTelemetry instrumentation.
SigNoz comes with out of box RED metrics charts and visualization. RED metrics stands for:
- Rate of requests
- Error rate of requests
- Duration taken by requests
You can then choose a particular timestamp where latency is high to drill down to traces around that timestamp.
You can use flamegraphs to exactly identify the issue causing the latency.
You can also build custom metrics dashboard for your infrastructure.
Collecting JVM metrics from your Spring Boot application
This section shows you how you can visualise JVM metrics from Spring Boot applications in SigNoz.
We use Micrometer and Spring Boot actuator to expose JVM metrics in Prometheus format. Then we update OpenTelemetry collector which comes pre-installed with SigNoz to be able to scrape these metrics.
You can then plot the JVM metrics relevant for your team by creating custom dashboards in SigNoz.
You can use a sample Spring Boot application at this GitHub repo.
Steps to monitor JVM metrics
Changes required in your Spring Boot application
Add the following code in
Add the following code in application.properties file located at
Sample Spring Boot app with needed changes
Build the Spring Boot application again
You can read more on how to expose Prometheus metric from Spring Boot docs.
Configure SigNoz otel-collector to scrape Prometheus metrics
Add the following code inSigNoz Otel collector yaml file
Target should be updated to the IP and port where Spring Boot app is exposing metrics.
- job_name: "otel-collector"
- targets: ["otel-collector:8889"]
- job_name: "jvm-metrics"
- targets: ["<IP of the machine:8090>"]
For e.g. if SigNoz is running on same machine as Spring Boot application, you can replace
IP of SigNozwith
Restart otel-collector metrics using the following command
sudo docker compose -f docker-compose.yaml restart otel-collector-metrics
Go to SigNoz dashboard and plot metrics you want
Available metrics that you can monitor
Below is the list of available JVM metrics that you can monitor with the help of SigNoz:
Collecting logs from your Spring Boot application
OpenTelemetry also supports collecting logs from your Spring Boot application. SigNoz provides logs, metrics, and traces under a single pane of glass. OpenTelemetry aims to support legacy logging pipelines and you can connect your existing log pipeline to OpenTelemetry collector to send your logs to SigNoz. Read our logs documentation to get started.
OpenTelemetry makes it very convenient to instrument your Spring Boot application and collect telemetry data like logs, metrics, and traces. You can then use an open-source APM tool like SigNoz to analyze the performance of your app. As SigNoz offers a full-stack observability tool, you don't have to use multiple tools for your monitoring needs.
You can try out SigNoz by visiting its GitHub repo 👇
If you are someone who understands more from video, then you can watch the tutorial on how to use OpenTelemetry for Spring Boot application here 👇
If you have any questions or need any help in setting things up, join our slack community and ping us in
If your Spring Boot application is based on microservices architecture, check out this blog 👇