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Jaeger represents tracing data in a data model inspired by the OpenTracing Specificationexternal link . The data model is logically very similar to OpenTelemetry Tracesexternal link , with some naming differences:

TagsAttributesBoth support typed values, but nested tags are not supported in Jaeger.
Span LogsSpan EventsPoint-in-time events on the span recorded in a structured form.
Span ReferencesSpan LinksJaeger’s Span References have a required type (child-of or follows-from) and always refer to predecessor spans; OpenTelemetry’s Span Links have no type, but allow attributes.
ProcessResourceA struct describing the entity that produces the telemetry.


A span represents a logical unit of work that has an operation name, the start time of the operation, and the duration. Spans may be nested and ordered to model causal relationships.

Traces And Spans


A trace represents the data or execution path through the system. It can be thought of as a directed acyclic graph of spans.


Baggage is arbitrary user-defined metadata (key-value pairs) that can be attached to distributed context and propagated by the tracing SDKs. See W3C Baggageexternal link for more information.


Jaeger can be deployed either as an all-in-one binary, where all Jaeger backend components run in a single process, or as a scalable distributed system. There are two main deployment options discussed below.

Direct to storage

In this deployment the collectors receive the data from traced applications and write it directly to storage. The storage must be able to handle both the average and peak traffic. Collectors use an in-memory queue to smooth short-term traffic peaks, but a sustained traffic spike may result in dropped data if the storage is not able to keep up.

Collectors are able to centrally serve sampling configuration to the SDKs, known as remote sampling mode . They can also enable automatic sampling configuration calculation, known as adaptive sampling .


Via Kafka

To prevent data loss between collectors and storage, Kafka can be used as an intermediary, persistent queue. An additional component, jaeger-ingester, needs to be deployed to read data from Kafka and save to the database. Multiple jaeger-ingesters can be deployed to scale up ingestion; they will automatically partition the load across them.


With OpenTelemetry Collector

You do not need to use OpenTelemetry Collector, because jaeger-collector can receive OpenTelemetry data directly from the OpenTelemetry SDKs (using OTLP exporters). However, if you already use the OpenTelemetry Collectors, such as for gathering other types of telemetry or for pre-processing / enriching the tracing data, it can be placed between the SDKs and jaeger-collector’s. The OpenTelemetry Collectors can be run as an application sidecar, as a host agent / daemon, or as a central cluster.

The OpenTelemetry Collector supports Jaeger’s Remote Sampling protocol and can either serve static configurations from config files directly, or proxy the requests to the Jaeger backend (e.g., when using adaptive sampling).


OpenTelemetry Collector as a sidecar / host agent


  • The SDK configuration is simplified as both trace export endpoint and sampling config endpoint can point to a local host and not worry about discovering where those services run remotely.
  • Collector may provide data enrichment by adding environment information, like k8s pod name.
  • Resource usage for data enrichment can be distributed across all application hosts.


  • An extra layer of marshaling/unmarshaling the data.

OpenTelemetry Collector as a remote cluster



  • An extra layer of marshaling/unmarshaling the data.


This section details the constituent parts of Jaeger and how they relate to each other. It is arranged by the order in which spans from your application interact with them.

Tracing SDKs

In order to generate tracing data, the applications must be instrumented. An instrumented application creates spans when receiving new requests and attaches context information (trace id, span id, and baggage) to outgoing requests. Only the ids and baggage are propagated with requests; all other profiling data, like operation name, timing, tags and logs, is not propagated. Instead, it is exported out of process to the Jaeger backend asynchronously, in the background.

Context propagation explained

There are many ways to instrument an application:

  • manually, using the tracing APIs directly,
  • relying on instrumentation already created for a variety of existing open source frameworks,
  • automatically, via byte code manipulation, monkey-patching, eBPF, and similar techniques.

Instrumentation typically should not depend on specific tracing SDKs, but only on abstract tracing APIs like the OpenTelemetry API. The tracing SDKs implement the tracing APIs and take care of data export.

The instrumentation is designed to be always on in production. To minimize the overhead, the SDKs employ various sampling strategies. When a trace is sampled, the profiling span data is captured and transmitted to the Jaeger backend. When a trace is not sampled, no profiling data is collected at all, and the calls to the tracing API are short-circuited to incur the minimal amount of overhead. For more information, please refer to the Sampling page.


jaeger-agent is deprecatedexternal link . The OpenTelemetry data can be sent from the OpenTelemetry SDKs (equipped with OTLP exporters) directly to jaeger-collector. Alternatively, use the OpenTelemetry Collector as a local agent.

jaeger-agent is a network daemon that listens for spans sent over UDP, which are batched and sent to the collector. It is designed to be deployed to all hosts as an infrastructure component. The agent abstracts the routing and discovery of the collectors away from the client. jaeger-agent is not a required component.


jaeger-collector receives traces, runs them through a processing pipeline for validation and clean-up/enrichment, and stores them in a storage backend. Jaeger comes with built-in support for several storage backends (see Deployment ), as well as extensible plugin framework for implementing custom storage plugins.


jaeger-query is a service that exposes the APIs for retrieving traces from storage and hosts a Web UI for searching and analyzing traces.


jaeger-ingester is a service that reads traces from Kafka and writes them to a storage backend. Effectively, it is a stripped-down version of the Jaeger collector that supports Kafka as the only input protocol.