The Collector can receive telemetry data from a variety of sources, including OpenTelemetry SDKs, agents, and other collectors, and can export that data to a variety of destinations, including backend systems like Prometheus, Zipkin, and Jaeger, as well as log management systems and alerting tools. It can also be configured to perform a number of data processing tasks, including filtering, aggregating, and transforming data, as well as applying rules and policies to telemetry data.
The OpenTelemetry Collector is highly configurable and can be customized to meet the needs of different environments and use cases. It is a key component of the OpenTelemetry project, which aims to provide a consistent, standard way of instrumenting, collecting, and processing telemetry data across different languages and platforms.
Here are the 3 most popular Collector architectures and use cases that use them
The Direct Exporter architecture
A straightforward and efficient approach that uses the Collector to directly export data to your preferred monitoring platform. This architecture is ideal for users who need a simple way to gather telemetry data and quickly export it to a monitoring system without much processing. Two examples of using this architecture are:
- Exporting traces directly to Jaeger, which is a popular open-source tracing system.
- Exporting metrics directly to Prometheus, which is a popular open-source metrics system.
The Fan-Out architecture
A flexible and powerful approach that uses the Collector to split incoming data into different pipelines based on their source and destination. This architecture is ideal for users who need to process, transform, or enrich telemetry data before exporting it to a monitoring system. Two examples of using this architecture are:
- Using the Collector to fan out traces to multiple destinations, such as Jaeger, Zipkin, and Honeycomb, each with different settings and parameters.
- Using the Collector to fan out metrics to multiple destinations, such as Prometheus and New Relic, each with different aggregation and processing rules.
The Sidecar architecture
A container-based approach that uses the Collector as a sidecar process to collect and export telemetry data from a containerized application. This architecture is ideal for users who need to collect telemetry data from multiple containers running on a single host. Two examples of using this architecture are:
- Using the Collector as a sidecar process to collect and export traces from a microservices-based application running in Kubernetes.
- Using the Collector as a sidecar process to collect and export metrics from a containerized application running in Docker.
In summary, the OpenTelemetry Collector is a versatile tool that provides different architectures to collect, process, and export telemetry data to different monitoring platforms. By selecting the appropriate architecture for your use case, you can customize your observability pipeline to meet your specific needs.
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