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Dyntek, RSolutions and Arctiq have merged to transform infrastructure, security, and platform solutions

Dyntek, RSolutions and Arctiq have merged to transform infrastructure, security, and platform solutions

Dyntek, RSolutions and Arctiq have merged to transform infrastructure, security, and platform solutions

TL;DR: OpenSLO is transforming SLO (Service-Level Objective) management by enabling a "Shift Left" approach and facilitating the separation of concerns. It simplifies the management of SLOs by providing a common language and framework for expressing and tracking objectives. OpenSLO allows teams to shift the integration of reliability objectives earlier in the software development lifecycle, addressing potential issues before they impact users. By leveraging OpenSLO, developers can focus on their core programming tasks while easily enabling observability through reusable configurations. This promotes collaboration, knowledge sharing, and a proactive approach to reliability, ultimately improving software service quality.


Have you ever found yourself drowning in the complexities of Service-Level Objectives (SLO) management? In today's fast-paced digital landscape, ensuring the reliability and performance of software systems is paramount, but managing those thousands of SLOs at scale is not an easy task. What if there was a revolutionary approach that could simplify and democratize SLO management while incorporating reliability objectives earlier in the development process?

Enter OpenSLO (, an innovative initiative that is transforming the way we measure and manage service reliability by embracing the concept of "Shifting Left". Shifting left in DevOps refers to the proactive approach of integrating tasks, often seen as downstream activities like testing or security, into earlier stages of the development process. In some cases, these tasks were previously carried out by developers themselves, while in other instances, they were handled by separate teams. By leveraging automation and other tools, this strategy enables teams to take more ownership and responsibility for these aspects, resulting in faster feedback loops and improved collaboration across disciplines. Here, our goal is to integrate reliability and observability objectives into the requirements, design and implementation of software. This is achieved by allowing developers to define these objectives before even entering production, rather than as an afterthought once code has already been deployed.

In this article, we'll dive into the significance of OpenSLO and explore how it enables a paradigm shift in SLO management, revolutionizing the way we ensure high-quality software services from the very beginning.

Challenges of Implementing SLOs at Scale

Picture this: you're in the midst of SLO management chaos, juggling countless SLOs like a circus performer. It's like trying to wrangle a bunch of energetic puppies on a sunny day—it's cute, but boy, can it get overwhelming! Keeping up with the ever-growing number of SLOs and coordinating them across different teams and services feels like a never-ending rollercoaster ride.

Fig 1 - A poor SRE trying to wrestle with all those SLOs

Implementing SLOs at scale poses numerous challenges that can make even the most seasoned professionals break out in a sweat. The sheer volume and complexity of managing thousands of SLOs can quickly become overwhelming. Coordinating with multiple teams, aligning objectives, and tracking performance metrics across various services can feel like navigating a labyrinth. Additionally, ensuring that reliability objectives are integrated early in the development process adds another layer of complexity. It becomes a delicate balancing act between meeting business goals and maintaining high-quality software services.

Enter OpenSLO

That's where OpenSLO steps in, by introducing a paradigm shift in SLO management. OpenSLO is an open standard that harmonizes the definition, monitoring, and management of SLOs for your software services. But how does a simple standard specification can change so much? Let's look into that together.

Gone are the days of grappling with complicated configurations and puzzling setups. With OpenSLO, you can effortlessly define SLOs using a YAML-based syntax. This specification captures all the important details: metrics, thresholds, and objectives that perfectly align with your desired service behavior. OpenSLO empowers you to measure performance metrics like latency, error rates, and throughput, with the flexibility you've always dreamed of.

OpenSLO sets the stage for seamless integration with your existing monitoring tools. It's like the missing link that brings everything together. With real-time tracking of actual service performance against your defined SLOs, OpenSLO enables you to take proactive actions, ensuring that your service quality remains top-notch, whatever the tools you are using.

How to use OpenSLO to Shift Left

Shifting Left with SLO management means incorporating reliability objectives early in the software development lifecycle. By considering reliability requirements during design, implementation, and testing, teams can address potential issues before they impact end-users. This proactive approach reduces troubleshooting time and improves overall service quality.

Shifting something left looks simple at the surface: simply give the developers the power to deploy and configure the observability themselves. But it is not that simple, observability tools are complex to use and understand. To truly use them at their potential, developers should spend a considerable amount of time learning and configuring them. This is simply unrealistic, if we always shift everything left, how can they have time to program new features?

Fig 2 - Pro Tip: Don't give more water to your drowning devs

This is why true left shifting requires to put in place a good separation of concerns and reusable configurations. Who knew good programming practices are also good DevOps practices!

So, how can we do that? Well by using OpenSLO of course! The structures it uses is very flexible and it is easy to write one piece of configuration somewhere and to reference to it in other configurations. Meaning you can have a central repository, with common SLIs, alert definitions, metric queries etc.; then a project repository only has to define an SLO and needs not to worry about details like querying the observability tool or setting up the connection to slack!

Let's look at an example

For this example, we'll look at a company that develops multiple applications and wants to define some common observability practices. Then we'll look at how a developer can enable observability for it's application simply by defining an objective.

1. Define common practices: In the central repository, define the common observability configurations including SLIs, alert policies, and notifications. These configurations will be reusable across multiple projects.

Example central-repo.yaml in the central repository:

2. Define SLO in the project repository: In the project repository of a specific application, define the Service Level Objective (SLO) for that application. The SLO represents the desired level of reliability for the application and is specific to that project. As you can see, this config is small and simple, allowing developpers to focus on what matters: the objective.

Example openslo.yaml in the project repository:

By following this practical guide, you can effectively implement Shifting Left in SLO management using OpenSLO. Use the provided examples of OpenSLO YAML specifications to define, test, and monitor your SLOs. Embrace this approach to identify and address reliability issues early, leading to improved software service quality and customer satisfaction. OpenSLO's flexibility and integrations empower your teams to proactively manage SLOs and foster a culture of reliability within your organization.

By leveraging OpenSLO to shift left in SLO management, your teams can take a proactive approach to reliability. This not only leads to faster issue resolution and improved customer experience but also fosters a culture of reliability within your organization.

How to foster knowledge sharing and collaboration with OpenSLO

OpenSLO not only simplifies SLO management but also fosters knowledge sharing and collaboration among teams. By providing a common language and framework for expressing and tracking SLO objectives, OpenSLO becomes the catalyst for improved communication and collaboration across different disciplines and stakeholders.

One of the coolest things about OpenSLO is its ability to promote transparency. By using a standardized approach to define SLOs, teams can all speak the same language and understand exactly what's expected from a service. This means smoother discussions, more diverse perspectives, and everyone working towards the same goals. Whether you're a developer, an operations whiz, or a product mastermind, OpenSLO ensures that reliability becomes a shared mission. With this open standard, teams can document and share their experiences in setting, monitoring, and meeting SLOs. It's like a treasure trove of knowledge that benefits not just individual teams, but the whole organization. By learning from each other's wins and challenges, everyone becomes a master of SLO management, resulting in top-notch service quality.

And guess what? Collaboration gets even better with the use of the central-repo/project-repo segregation we just showed in the previous example. Imagine a developer who needs a fancy new feature or configuration that isn't in the central repository. No worries! They can start working on it in the project repository. If the feature turns out to be amazing and useful for other projects, it can be moved to the central repository. That way, the central repository is always up to date with the latest and greatest, while the project repository becomes a playground for testing new ideas. It's like the perfect balance between innovation and stability!

Closing thoughts and future Trends in SLO Management

OpenSLO is still a really recent project, with the first version of the specification released in May 2022. However, it's already gaining traction in the industry, with many big names collaborating like Nobl9, Dynatrace and Sumo Logic. Altough not a lot of tools currently supports the OpenSLO standard, we can expect this to change in the near future as we see observability moving towards a more standardized approach with the OpenTelemetry project. OpenSLO is a great answer to requirements that I've seen in a lot of organizations, and I'm sure it will become a standard in the industry in the next few years.

By embracing OpenSLO and standardizing SLO definitions, you can simplify and democratize SLO management while incorporating reliability objectives earlier in the development process. The transparency, collaboration, and knowledge sharing enabled by OpenSLO foster a culture of reliability and elevate the quality of your software services from the very beginning. As OpenSLO gains momentum and industry support, it's poised to become a standard in the near future and you should already be looking at how it could be used in your organization.

Simon Boyer
Post by Simon Boyer
July 26, 2023
Simon is a DevOps professional with a strong focus on open source advocacy, SRE practices, Kubernetes observability tooling, pipelines and more. Embracing engineering challenges is his passion, and he enjoys crafting innovative solutions. You might also find him tinkering with his homeserver or open source projects during his free time.