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Breaking down silos between Dev and Ops: IBM Z DevOps solutions + Instana for z/OS

By Sherri Hanna posted Tue September 14, 2021 11:33 AM


Blog written by Minaz Merali, Director for IBM Z DevOps for Hybrid Cloud

For today's digital businesses who are leveraging a hybrid cloud strategy to address their needs for agility, and security with cost control, there are many moving parts.  This adds to complexity and the need for high visibility and application performance insights that Instana (an IBM company) can provide. IBM’s recent acquisition of Instana is a great step forward in supporting the adoption of a hybrid cloud strategy that delivers the openness and flexibility customers are looking to achieve.  Instana provides a host of leading observation capabilities, such as a comprehensive collection of application traces, relationship between logs, metrics and dependencies, instantaneous automated instrumentation and AI-based root cause analysis. 

 Once you "observe" a potential problem, you must take steps to analyze, discover and correct the situation.  For enterprise clients who are developing and operating hybrid applications that are business critical and complex by nature, Instana for z/OS + IBM Enterprise DevOps CI/CD solutions provide application analysis, discovery,  and performance management capabilities that foster an agile, collaborative approach to continuous delivery of high quality software. With Instana providing observability for example, through application traces,  ADDI helps with understanding the next level of details about this application and the complexity of application relationships. This combination of understanding, observability, monitoring and cognitive insights is quick to break down silos and accelerate digital business requirements using a modern end-to-end tool chain. 


Application discovery and understanding


Over the years, z/OS applications have grown to work efficiently but at the same time in some cases they have grown to be significantly complex. To be able to fix problems and do that efficiently an application discovery and understanding tool is very useful.  IBM Application Discovery and Delivery Intelligence (ADDI), offered as part of IBM's Enterprise DevOps solutions is an application analysis tool that provides detailed understanding of applications.  ADDI uses cognitive technology to analyze mainframe applications and thus quickly enables discovery and understanding of application inter-dependencies to help enterprise clients :

  • Transform and renew applications more efficiently and productively
  • Capitalize on time-tested mainframe code to engage the API economy
  • Accelerate application transformation of the hybrid cloud environment


Combining the code analysis provided by ADDI with the performance/operational analysis information made available by Instana connects  developers closer to the production environment with the context and understanding that allows them to:

  • Be alerted about potential performance problems.
  • Analyze transactions or jobs that have performance issues.
  • See whether their code changes drive up response time that includes DB2 and file I/O percentage wait time with the performance information of transactions that they own and the associated trend data.


Application Performance Analysis


Instana itself is a robust application monitoring solution because it shows an application holistically; recognizing that applications do not live in a vacuum.  Whether it is a mobile application, a website, or a scheduled job, Instana understands that while there still exists the need for traditional application performance management tools, their use can require manual analysis and correlation.  Instana documentation even explicitly states that, “with higher scale and dynamics, this task is like finding a needle in a haystack, there are just too many moving parts and metrics to correlate.”


Instana will now enjoy the benefits of IBM Z Application Performance Management Connect (Z APM); as it now integrates with Instana. Data will be made available to Instana through "components", that are referred to as either gateways or exits (kind of like mainframe APIs that aren't quite APIs).  This is how Instana will gain visibility into z/OS.  


This image shows the support transaction flows to/from Instana. Prior to this integration, in some ways z/OS activity remained heavily shrouded for the distributed side of the enterprise.

So that is why it is an exciting time for developers and operators.  Combining Instana and Z APM has a lot of potential.  But we're really just scratching the surface. Now we have yet another way of approaching application performance and problem determination.  Perhaps there is something unique in a single application; well we certainly have that covered.   But perhaps there is something anomalous in an application that is also amiss in other applications or across many micro services.  Rather than picking off these applications one by one, we might now analyze a block of shared source code (using Application Performance Analyzer) that benefits application execution times across the entire enterprise.  

So from a developers perspective, Instana for z/OS and its integrations and process flow with IBM DevOps Solutions, provides strong linkage points with operations making it easier to deliver high-quality performance.  And at the end of the day, a consistent, process-driven Dev(and)Ops culture can lead to improved time-to-market, lower risk, lower cost of operations, and increased customer satisfaction.


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