GitLab has decided to make its monitoring and observability tools available as part of its core open source platform to help reduce the total cost of DevOps. Previously, the tools were available as part of the commercial tools in GitLab’s DevOps platform.
Kenny Johnston, director of product/Ops products for GitLab, said that as responsibility for observability shifts left, it is clear developers are now exercising more influence over which monitoring tools are employed. As developers begin to employ monitoring tools early in the application development process, most of them prefer open source tools because it’s unclear whether the application being developed will ever make it into a production environment, he said.
However, if the application does make it into a production environment, it can be challenging for developers to make a case for standardizing on whatever monitoring tools they’re using in place of an existing commercial offering employed by an IT operations team. In addition to reducing costs, the GitLab approach could serve to eliminate any potential friction in the DevOps environment, as applications move from development into production environments.
GitLab’s move to make its monitoring tools available as open source software comes at a time when more telemetry applications being employed to collect data are also based on open source software. In addition, developers of modern cloud-native applications based on containers are taking advantage of open source Prometheus monitoring software developed under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) to monitor their applications. GitLab already provides integration with Prometheus.
GitLab is also making it clear it expects its monitoring tools to benefit from the contributions of a larger pool of developers. Specifically, GitLab is calling for help in the areas of ongoing integrations with Prometheus along with improved logging, tracing and alerting capabilities.
It’s not at all clear just yet to what degree DevOps teams will prefer to rely on open source versus commercial monitoring tools. While open source tools have some obvious advantages in terms of cost, many organizations have already standardized on commercial monitoring tools for a wide variety of existing applications. Open source tools often are more difficult to deploy and don’t tend to provide as much observability depth for IT operations teams. In addition, most of the providers of commercial monitoring tools are integrating their offerings with both open source telemetry software and Prometheus to bridge any divide that might occur between when an application is developed and deployed in a production environment.
The one thing that is clear is a lot more individuals within the IT environments will be accessing these tools now that developers increasingly are being held accountable for the performance of their applications in production environments. In addition, modern applications require monitoring tools to make sense of all the dependencies that existing between microservices. Previously, IT operations teams tended to limit usage of monitoring tools based on commercial software to their most critical applications because of the costs involved. With the rise of open source monitoring tools, the opportunity to apply monitoring more broadly becomes more economically feasible.
Regardless of the path forward chosen, the more visibility into IT environments provided, the easier it becomes to embrace best DevOps practices.