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Developer operations (DevOps) powerhouse GitLab has acquired open source observability distribution Opstrace. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The move represents GitLab’s first acquisition since its October IPO, which values the company at nearly $11 billion today, and puts it in a stronger position to grab a bigger chunk of the integrated DevOps tooling market.

“Observability” is a software monitoring approach chiefly concerned with metrics, logs, and traces, and involves measuring the internal state of a system by analyzing the raw data outputs to understand what may be impacting an application’s performance. While there are countless bug-finding and squishing tools designed for the pre-deployment phase, observability is all about the production stage — software that is already out in the wild.


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While GitLab already offers some software monitoring functions as part of its existing product, including incident and alert management, and escalation policies, GitLab’s senior director of product management, Kenny Johnston, told VentureBeat that it currently doesn’t have the extensive observability functionalities, such as metrics, logs, and traces, that it would like.

“All of these capabilities have lower adoption rates than other capabilities, which we attributed to them not being integrated or available out-of-the-box,” Johnston explained. “As a result, we looked for alternative ways to improve developers’ experience with observability.”

The open source factor

Founded in early 2019, Opstrace is pitched as an open source alternative to tools such as Datadog and Splunk’s SignalFx, allowing developers to see deep inside their stack with a suite of features spanning authentication, authorization, alert management, synthetics, TLS (transport layer security), and more.

“With the acquisition of Opstrace, GitLab… anticipates being the first to include an integrated open source observability solution within a single application with one user interface, a unified data store, and security embedded within the DevOps lifecycle,” Johnston said.

There has been a flurry of M&A activity across the observability space this year, with Datadog snapping up Sqreen and Timber; ServiceNow acquiring Lightstep; Cisco buying Epsagon, and Elastic bringing Prodfiler creator Optimyze under its wing. Now, it’s GitLab’s turn to bolster its observability credentials.

Eventually, GitLab plans to integrate Opstrace into its Monitor stage, where it will be made available to GitLab users both through its subscription-based SaaS offering and the self-managed product. It’s ultimately all about bridging existing observability solutions, which are either a “costly SaaS service” or a self-assembled toolset cobbled together from various open source components.

“It is complex and expensive to build a robust and scalable observability system,” said Opstrace cofounder Mat Appelman. “We believe Opstrace provides control with secure API endpoints and convenience with an integrated, tested multi-tenant observability solution. We anticipate investing every bit of operational experience back into the open source code, which means everyone can contribute and benefit.”

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