Distributed Tracing

What is Distributed Tracing?

Distributed tracing is the method used to trace data requests across a network of distributed systems to maintain visibility. This is helpful for microservices architectures that utilize small, independent components that communicate with each other. Distributed tracing helps track each request as it travels across these components, making troubleshooting easier.

Types of Distributed Tracing

Distributed tracing is used by software teams to identify problems with applications because it allows them to “see” the path that a data request takes across a distributed system. There are three major types of distributed tracing:

1. Code Tracing

Code tracing is the method where processes track the flow of a source code in an application when it performs a specific function. It helps developers identify unknown issues by providing visibility of the logical flow of the code.

For example, code tracing helps validate the request for a database query by looking at the steps that the request has invoked.

2. Program Tracing

Program tracing is used when application or software developers need to diagnose the deep-rooted performance issues in the product. This method helps trace the addresses of the invoked instructions and the variables called by an application that is active. It is tough to examine this process manually, which makes program tracing a highly effective method.

3. End-to-End Tracing

End-to-end tracing allows developers to track a request the entire way along its path. This method is helpful for tracking data transformation with the initiation of a request and as it is forwarded to other components of software for further processing.

Standards of Distributed Tracing

Distributed tracing standards are a framework and toolset for developers to monitor, analyze, and visualize service requests in an application environment. There are three distributed tracing standards:

1. OpenTracing

This open-source distributed tracing standard allows developers to generate distributed traces using parts of the code base, dependencies, or libraries.

2. OpenCensus

This standard consists of libraries with multiple languages that are capable of pulling software metrics and transmitting them for analysis to the backend systems.

3. OpenTelemetry

This standard is an efficient combination of OpenCensus and OpenTracing, capable of delivering exhaustive SDKs, APIs, libraries, and other instrumentation to execute distributed tracing in applications.

Benefits of Distributed Tracing

Distributed tracing has become an essential part of optimizing applications. There are several benefits of distributed tracing:

1. Augment troubleshooting

Modern applications are based on microservice architecture, which involves a lot of back-and-forth service requests. Distributed tracing helps visualize request paths, making troubleshooting simpler and quicker. It helps improve the observability of the app’s systems, helping trace complex software interactions easily.

2. Enhance collaboration

The development of an application often involves several developers working on it simultaneously. Distributed tracing is an excellent way for developers to trace the data that microservices exchange by way of providing telemetry data to each other at the debugging end.

3. Reduce time-to-market

It is possible to reduce the time to market for applications under development by using distributed traces to glean information about app performance during development and testing.

It is possible to implement distributed tracing in any kind of cloud-based system. Developers can also keep records of the traces they generate to ease troubleshooting for applications.

Additionally, tracing tools can work with a variety of programming languages and tech stacks, which empowers developers to run a variety of applications on the same platform.

Distributed tracing is beneficial in simplifying troubleshooting, identifying app performance bottlenecks, and reducing development turnaround times.