IBM sharpens its hybrid cloud, AI focus with Instana buy

IBM sharpens its hybrid cloud, AI focus with Instana buy

Instana brings AI-powered application performance management for hybrid clouds to IBM line-up

Credit: IBM

IBM has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Instana, an application performance monitoring firm. Financial details were not disclosed.

Once the acquisition closes, Instana's technology will be incorporated into IBM's hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence portfolios – two markets IBM leadership has targeted for high growth in the coming years.

To that end, IBM recently said it would spin off the $19 billion Managed Infrastructure Services unit of its Global Technology Services division to help the company focus on hybrid cloud, artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing.

"Hybrid cloud and AI are swiftly becoming the focus of commerce, transactions, and over time, of computing itself. Our decision is also the logical next step in our pursuit of the $1 trillion hybrid cloud opportunity," Arvind Krishna, IBM CEO, stated in a blog about the infrastructure move.

Instana offers APM Instana, a software package which can be run on-premises or delivered as a cloud service to manage microservice and cloud-native application performance. Most recently, the company announced the ability to deploy its on-premises self-hosted solution via Kubernetes, and earlier this year, the company migrated its self-hosted offering to Docker.

According to Instana, its platform discovers and maps services and infrastructure as well as their interdependencies. The platform ingests observability metrics, traces each request, profiles the process, and updates application dependency maps in real time to deliver customers the context and feedback needed to optimise application performance.

Instana's technology will be primarily used by IBM Watson AIOps, an application that uses AI to automate how enterprises detect, diagnose and respond to IT anomalies in real time. Watson AIOps works by grouping log anomalies and alerts based on spatial and temporal reasoning as well as similarity to past situations, IBM said.

It uses IBM's natural language processing technology to understand the content in trouble tickets to identify and extract resolution actions automatically. Then it provides a pointer to where the problem is and identifies other services that might be affected.

The Instana information could be used by customers to set and compare a baseline of a normal operating application, with AI triggering alerts to resolve issues quickly before negative impacts to a transaction, IBM stated. This will help eliminate the need for IT staff to manually monitor and manage applications, freeing employees to focus on innovation and higher value work.

"Modern observability and application performance monitoring platforms, like Instana, have been built from the ground up to take advantage of new technologies like Kubernetes and cloud-native microservices to fill critical gaps," wrote Pratik Gupta, CTO, IBM Hybrid Cloud Management, in a blog about the deal.

Instana brings a host of capabilities, including application tracing and dependency, and automated and instant instrumentation. It's designed for AI-based root cause analysis and high cardinality analytics, Gupta stated.

"Instana's observability capabilities combined with IBM's AI-powered automation capabilities across hybrid cloud environments will give clients a full view of their application performance to best optimise operations," said Mirko Novakovic, co-founder and CEO of Instana, in a statement.

IBM says the Instana deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021. Instana is the fourth acquisition of 2020 for Big Blue. Among the earlier deals is its purchase of AI and robotic process automation technology from WDG Automation.

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