Achieving AIOps with Instana

Tiago Dias Generoso
4 min readFeb 14, 2023

“AIOps combines big data and machine learning to automate IT operations processes, including event correlation, anomaly detection and causality determination.” — Gartner definition of AIOps

AIOps visual representation

Domain Centric x Domain Agnostic tools

We can deliver AIOps in two different ways, as Domain Centric and as Domain Agnostic.

  • Domain Centric: Single solution that provides AI capabilities for operations but just for the data collected or managed by this tool. In our case, Instana is a type of Domain Centric.
  • Domain Agnostic: A solution that can centralize the AI capabilities of collecting data from different sources and manipulating the data to provide the AIOps on a scenario with multiple tools. Gartner indicates that domain-agnostic tools will dominate the future market. Watson AIOps and ServiceNow are examples of Domain Agnostic tools.
AIOps — Domain Centric VS Domain Agnostic

My intention here is to provide something other than the AIOps concepts. You can see more concepts in this excellent Article from Marcel Pineda:

I will explore some critical Instana features that will allow you to deliver AIOps capabilities here.

  • Real-time Dependency Map
  • Full-Stack Monitoring with Continuous Discovery
  • Automatic Root Cause Analysis

Real-time Dependency Map

Based on the tracing data collected by Instana, we can have a Dynamic Graph allowing us to understand the dependence of each application component; the data is continuously updated based on the discovery and allows temporal and spatial deterministic analysis.

This is an essential capability for the Operations to allow us to understand the most critical components, understand the application flow, and provide data for the root cause analysis.

With Instana service mapping, you can see how the services are interconnected and also show the traffic and flow direction visually:

The following picture is a smaller example of Instana Dependences to allow you to see the map better.

Full-Stack Monitoring with Continuous Discovery

Instana is an APM with automatic instrumentation based on a single agent with multiple sensors; each sensor can determine different ways to collect data for an extensive list of technologies.

With that, the tool can understand how the application components work together and the impacts of the component failure.

The tool can collect the golden signals of each application trace and provide visual diagrams to allow the users to navigate on end-to-end tracing and understand the performance of each trace and how they will impact the general performance.

You can see detailed information by clicking on each box of the diagram.

In this other image, you can see the usage of the Analytics section of Instana; with that, we can see the command usage by each service, the details of each one, the status code, and everything.

It can make operations more straightforward.

Another great feature to make the DevOps team’s life easier is the support of CI/CD. Instana can provide ways to compare the application deployment versions, in the example below, for Canarian Deployment.

Automatic Root Cause Analysis

This is my favorite Instana feature to provide AIOps; Instana uses AI to correlate the data, the dependency map, and anomaly detection to make the root cause analysis activity easier.

Machine learning can also identify if the users are being impacted by the problem, correlate all incidents, and, ultimately, provide the root cause of the problem.

Look at the image below to understand how Instana analyzes the root cause.

In this other image, we can see Incident details with the timestamp, duration, description, and everything required to do the root cause analysis.

Conclusion

Domain Centric tools like Instana can enhance IT operations with AI, providing automation, and automatic root cause analysis, understanding the impact of the problems, and contextualizing the issues.

Suppose we have a heterogenous environment with multiple Observability tools. Then, you should evaluate the Domain Centric solutions to integrate with Instana and deliver end-to-end AIOps solutions with multiple tools.

Technically, Instana can provide all required capabilities for AIOps, and the team can focus on another crucial detail, culture transformation; without that, we will have all the capabilities and data, but no one will take care of it, wasting time and money.

Tiago Dias Generoso is a Distinguished IT Architect | Senior SRE | Master Inventor based in Pocos de Caldas, Brazil. The above article is personal and does not necessarily represent the employer’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Tiago Dias Generoso

Distinguished IT Architect | Senior SRE specialized in Observability with 20+ years of experience helping organizations strategize complex IT solutions. Kyndryl