This guide shows how to get started with tracing serverless functions using OpenTelemetry instrumentation libraries.

AWS Lambda

The following show how to use Lambda wrappers with OpenTelemetry to instrument AWS Lambda functions and send traces to a configured backend.

Check out OpenTelemetry Lambda Layers, if you are interested in a plug and play user experience.


First, create an empty package.json:

npm init -y

Then install the required dependencies:

npm install \
  @opentelemetry/api \
  @opentelemetry/auto-instrumentations-node \
  @opentelemetry/exporter-trace-otlp-http \
  @opentelemetry/instrumentation \
  @opentelemetry/sdk-trace-base \

AWS Lambda wrapper code

This file contains all the OpenTelemetry logic, which enables tracing. Please save the following code as lambda-wrapper.js.

/* lambda-wrapper.js */

const api = require("@opentelemetry/api");
const { BatchSpanProcessor } = require("@opentelemetry/sdk-trace-base");
const {
} = require("@opentelemetry/exporter-trace-otlp-http");
const { NodeTracerProvider } = require("@opentelemetry/sdk-trace-node");
const { registerInstrumentations } = require("@opentelemetry/instrumentation");
const {
} = require("@opentelemetry/auto-instrumentations-node");

api.diag.setLogger(new api.DiagConsoleLogger(), api.DiagLogLevel.ALL);

const provider = new NodeTracerProvider();
const collectorOptions = {
  url: "<backend_url>",

const spanProcessor = new BatchSpanProcessor(
  new OTLPTraceExporter(collectorOptions)


  instrumentations: [
      "@opentelemetry/instrumentation-aws-lambda": {
        disableAwsContextPropagation: true,

Replace <backend_url> with the URL of your favorite backend to export all traces to it. If you don’t have one setup already, you can check out Jaeger or Zipkin.

Note that disableAwsContextPropagation is set to true. The reason for this is that the Lambda instrumentation tries to use the X-Ray context headers by default, unless active tracing is enabled for this function, this results in a non-sampled context, which creates a NonRecordingSpan.

More details can be found in the instrumentation documentation.

AWS Lambda function handler

Now that you have a Lambda wrapper, create a simple handler that servers as a Lambda function. Save the following code as handler.js.

/* handler.js */

"use strict";

const https = require('https');

function getRequest() {
  const url = '';

  return new Promise((resolve, reject) => {
    const req = https.get(url, res => {

    req.on('error', err => {
      reject(new Error(err));

exports.handler = async (event) => {
  try {
    const result = await getRequest();
    return {
      statusCode: result,
  } catch (error) {
    return {
      statusCode: 400,
      body: error.message,


There are multiple ways of deploying your Lambda function:

Here we will be using Serverless Framework, more details can be found in the Setting Up Serverless Framework guide.

Create a file called serverless.yml:

service: lambda-otel-native
frameworkVersion: "3"
  name: aws
  runtime: nodejs14.x
  region: "<your-region>"
    NODE_OPTIONS: --require lambda-wrapper
    handler: handler.hello

For OpenTelemetry to work properly, lambda-wrapper.js must be included before any other file: the NODE_OPTIONS setting ensures this.

Note if you are not using Serverless Framework to deploy your Lambda function, you must manually add this environment variable using the AWS Console UI.

Finally, run the following command to deploy the project to AWS:

serverless deploy

You can now invoke the newly deployed Lambda function by using the AWS Console UI. You should expect to see spans related to the invocation of the Lambda function.

Visiting the backend

You should now be able to view traces produced by OpenTelemetry from your Lambda function in the backend!