Advanced Computing in the Age of AI|Tuesday, August 4, 2020
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App Tracing Startup Emerges from Stealth 

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As enterprise software architectures evolve beyond monolithic applications to delivering micro-services, debugging tools like distributed tracing are emerging to detect cyberattacks against one of the foundations of cloud-native deployments: APIs.

With attacks proliferating on the hundreds of APIs used to build individual enterprise applications, AI and distributed tracing tools are being used to monitor micro-services. So, too, are well-heeled startups promoting next-generation security tools for protecting cloud-native apps.

Among them is Traceable, an application security startup that emerged this week from stealth mode with a $20 million funding round. Founded by Jyoti Bansal, who sold his application monitoring company AppDynamics to Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) in 2017 for $3.7 billion, the startup was spun out of Bansal’s “studio,” BIG Labs. Series A funding was also provided by Unusual Ventures.

After selling AppDynamics, Bansal and Rishi Singh launched Harness to automate continuous code development. Bansal and Traceable co-founder and CTO Sanjay Nagaraj are focusing app monitoring efforts on the growing problem of distinguishing between legitimate and malicious use of applications’ myriad APIs.

In particular, micro-service APIs used to connect cloud-native apps and share information have become a prime target for hackers. As the number of cloud-native applications expands, so too does the attack vector, security analysts warn.

Hence, emerging tools such as distributed tracing are being used to monitor the application layer as startups like Traceable look to lock down APIs “from client to code.”

“Existing solutions were designed to protect traditional monolithic web apps with well-understood protocols,” Bansal said Tuesday (July 14) in unveiling his latest security venture. “They aren’t capable of understanding distributed applications using thousands of custom APIs.”

The enterprise shift to microservices “made the applications more distributed and API-centric and exposed internal business logic,” the startup added in a blog post.

Traceable also said it is releasing its platform as an open source project dubbed Hypertrace that includes services and other dashboards. A feature called “application flow mapping” tracks app activity across micro-services.

The monitoring tool ingests and stores distributed traces, then provides visibility into application architectures via analytics and visualizations.  Along with monitoring applications for security threats and generating alerts, the platform is designed to track application activity to isolate and fix vulnerable code.

“Highly distributed cloud-native applications are almost impossible to operate and troubleshoot without distributed tracing,” asserted Traceable CTO Nagaraj.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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