Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Wednesday, February 8, 2023

IBM Adds App Monitoring Tools With Instana Deal 

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IBM moved again this week to bolster its strategic hybrid cloud offerings built around Red Hat OpenShift with the acquisition of application performance monitoring specialist Instana Inc.

Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. IBM (NYSE: IBM) said Wednesday (Nov. 18) it expects the deal to close within several months.

The acquisition of Chicago-based Instana solidifies IBM’s hybrid cloud strategy that also seeks to add new AI-based tools for managing enterprise applications. Earlier this week, Instana unveiled an automated application monitoring platform aimed at Google cloud and storage platforms.

In announcing the Instana deal, IBM said it would integrate the application monitoring tools with its Watson AIOps platform promoted as detecting IT glitches in real time. The acquisition also bolsters IBM’s Cloud Pak automation efforts as more customers shift to multi-cloud deployments.

"Our clients today are faced with managing a complex technology landscape filled with mission-critical applications and data that are running across a variety of hybrid cloud environments—from public clouds, private clouds and on-premises," said Rob Thomas, senior vice president of IBM’s Cloud and Data Platform unit.

Instana’s monitoring and observability tools would complement IBM’s Watson-based automation tools that can be used to reduce IT problems as customers deliver enterprise applications and databases via multiple public clouds, Thomas added.

The Instana deal is the latest in a series of hybrid infrastructure moves since IBM’s $34 billion acquisition of open source leader Red Hat in 2018. Since then, the company has been filling out its hybrid cloud roster with partnerships and related IT automation deals, culminating in the spinoff of its hybrid cloud operations in October.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has built the company’s hybrid cloud strategy around its flagship Red Hat OpenShift platform, which accounts for the lion’s share of its cloud revenues. The Instana deal is another sign the company is adding application monitoring tools to its Kubernetes-based platform as it seeks to persuade customers to shift mission-critical applications from private to public clouds.

Earlier this week, IBM acquired TruQua Enterprises, which specializes in consulting services for delivering financial and analytics advice on SAP platforms. That transaction would boost IBM’s ability to help customers migrate financial platforms to SAP.

Once Instana’s tools are integrated, IBM said its cloud customers would be able to feed data about cloud application performance into its Watson AIOps platform. The combination would trigger alerts if application performance deteriorates.

“AI models have the ability to learn, predict and automate a vast number of tasks—from DevOps processes to IT operations—augmenting the human’s ability to do the task or simply doing the mundane, repetitive tasks,” Pratik Gupta, CTO of IBM Hybrid Cloud Management, noted in a blog post announcing the Instana acquisition.

The emergence of Kubernetes as the operating system for modern applications and hybrid cloud environments underscores the importance of observability—the real-time monitoring of the application runtime performance--said Mirko Novakovic, Instana’s co-founder,

The shift to DevOps and the changes implied by that shift have changed the way organizations develop software today—faster but also more frequent changes are the new norm nowadays while developers take over more tasks that were historically on the IT operations side,” Novakovic added in a separate post.

The combination of Instana’s application performance tools and Watson AI could yield a new capability Novakovic dubbed “AutoPilot for DevOps” in which machine learning techniques automate tasks ranging from auto-scaling to security.

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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