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August 11, 2021

Why tech companies are snatching up automation observability firms

By GlobalData Technology

The buying spree continues in the hotly contested intelligent automation space, with workflow automation leader ServiceNow making its latest purchase to reinforce its DevOps arsenal.

ServiceNow announced plans to acquire hybrid database vendor Swarm64 to help ease management of large volumes of data transactions via advanced analytics. The move closely follows its acquisition of Lightstep, a modern monitoring platform which aligns with ServiceNow’s observability strategy. ServiceNow has become a growing competitive threat in the automation and observability space, stemming from enhancements to its Now Platform under an initiative the company calls ‘insight-guided workflows.’

ServiceNow told Verdict that observability is a perfect example of the need for Swarm64’s ability to respond to the surge in event and data monitoring, with the future being ML-powered predictive and prescriptive analytics for enabling proactive responses in order to prevent incidents. This is particularly important for those use cases which require large-scale, repetitive queries for model development and training alongside fast inference execution.

Observability technologies and automation solutions

Under increased pressure to accelerate digitization of company apps and systems, integrated observability technologies (as a component of automation solutions) will play a significant role in accelerating app modernization in the next six to 12 months. Innovations including AI-injected monitoring and tracking solutions have taken traditional APM technologies to new levels.

Machine learning and natural language processing are also playing a role in automated solutions which not only scope out problems, but also take action without human intervention. Event-driven architects will monitor data while it’s in motion as the industry moves from data-centric models and the focus on data at rest to a focus on events.

ServiceNow is playing an increasingly prominent role alongside various rivals in the intelligent automation ecosystem, including Microsoft, Google, Pegasystems, Salesforce, IBM, Appian, and others – many of which have also built out their DevOps portfolio related to automation/observability and other application lifecycle management initiatives important to operations teams through acquisitions and technology innovations. Key highlights include Google’s acquisition of no-code provider AppSheet, IBM’s acquisition of APM vendor Instana, and Red Hat’s acquisition of StackRox Kubernetes security provider.

DevOps intelligent workflow automation megatrend

Late last year, ServiceNow partnered with IBM to combine strengths and pursue the DevOps intelligent workflow automation megatrend. IBM recognized ServiceNow’s heavy investment in its Now Platform, which reduces time-consuming manual tasks involved with an IT operation’s incidents/risks, freeing them up to focus on more business-critical tasks – technology IBM married with its Watson AIOps solution as part of its broader Automation Foundation initiative.

OSS plays an important role in ServiceNow’s latest acquisition and to this market segment in general. Swarm64 runs on top of an open-source PostgreSQL database, so the company has released core parts of its offering as open source projects. This is likely to continue as ServiceNow recognizes the importance of accelerating its development rate through community feedback. Similarly, Lightstep had a strong commitment to OSS considering its founders were founders of both the OpenTracing and OpenTelemetry projects, highly popular CNCF-backed technologies.

AI-enhanced automation has become an increasingly prominent component of a DevOps toolbox, bridging the cloud’s value chain with traditional processes and newer app modernization objectives. Solutions assembled within an emerging intelligent process automation (IPA) category aim to help eliminate the time-consuming tasks required to manually build business processes under stringent demands of a digital era.

Data connectivity

Enterprises are faced with significantly increased data connectivity requirements and heightened customer experience engagement objectives. IPA supports scalability through a cloud infrastructure and AI-enhanced backend systems connectivity and tools, provided through low-code platforms making them accessible to business users.

Still largely a convoluted effort, the industry has begun seeing platform providers formulate strategies after investing heavily in software automation, a term generally defined as having AI/ML, robotic process automation (RPA), low-code platforms, revised versions of process management systems, and – increasingly – observability innovations.