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Enabling Instana Tracing for WebSphere and Liberty on z/OS Environment

By Neha Ghongade posted 29 days ago


Authors: Rajesh K. Jeyapaul, Neha Ghongade

Instana, an observability tool, is enhanced to support various technology components and architecture stacks. Tracing is a key capability to trace every request across services to facilitate application troubleshooting and performance optimization. In this update, Instana now supports tracing for WebSphere Application Server (WAS) and Liberty on z/OS.

This blog discusses how to enable tracing for WAS and Liberty on z/OS.

What is special about the zOS environment?

Mainframes are high-performance computers with large memory and numerous processors, capable of processing billions of calculations and transactions in real time. They are essential for commercial databases, transaction servers, and applications that require high resiliency, security, and agility.

z/OS® excels at serving thousands of users concurrently and handling large workloads securely, reliably, and efficiently. Its capabilities in multiprogramming and multiprocessing, along with the ability to manage vast amounts of virtual and physical storage and I/O operations, make it ideal for running mainframe workloads.

Trace environment 

Architectural Diagram

Deployment requirement

Instana, an To deploy the Instana agent on z/OS, complete the following steps:

  1. tag the Instana agent with the proper code page setting (819).
  2. Install the Instana agent with root user privileges.
  3. Set up a security profile by using RACF or another mainframe security product.
  4. Ensure that WAS or Liberty starts with the following flags enabled:
    • -Djdk.attach.allowAttachSelf=true

For more information, see Tracing WAS/Libert on z/OS.

Tracing WebSphere/Liberty using Instana

Using Instana's tracing feature, users can easily monitor all calls that are made by endpoint services that are hosted on the WAS or Liberty environment. Additionally, statistics for these calls can be visualized on a summary dashboard, providing information such as the number of calls made, the number of erroneous calls, call latency, and processing time.

To trace transactions in your application, follow the prerequisites:

  1. Perform transactions through service endpoints on your WAS or Liberty environment.
  2. Check the status of your agent by running the status command.

You can also review the agent logs at `instana-agent/data/log/agent.log` to ensure that you don’t see any connectivity errors.

Now, it takes a few minutes before the new agent shows up as another host in the Instana console and starts reporting. If you examine the Instana logs, you see several sensors that are deployed for automatically detected technologies. For instance, when Instana detects the Liberty server, you see this reflected in the logs.

Navigate to the main Instana page and go to the relevant dashboards for the application. You can start by checking the Agents console to see all the hosts currently being monitored. Click More -> Agents on the left-side panel.

If you have many hosts reporting to the Instana server, then you can filter your results. Here, the hostname is used to narrow down the results.

Now, click your host, navigate to your WAS/Liberty application, and go to the services page.

Now you can monitor your Liberty server in the application perspective view. The summary dashboard displays the statistics of key performance indicators for the Liberty server. 
Additionally, a dependency map provides an overview of your application's architecture. You can easily visualize service dependencies, understand communication paths, and analyze throughput by using the visual representation of calls between services.

Click the troubleshooting section to see more details about service mapping, infrastructure linking, outcomes, span types, and more.

Moreover, if you click the Analyze Calls button, you are redirected to the Analytics dashboard, where you can get detailed data on calls and traces related to your services.

Note: Ensure that your environment meets the following supported versions to use this feature:

  • Supported Liberty environments: and onwards
  • Supported WebSphere environments : and onwards


IBM Instana Observability offers comprehensive observability for complex applications. It provides real-time insights into the activities and impacts on the WAS or Liberty server, helping you resolve issues faster.



28 days ago

That is fantastic! Thank you for sharing. I can't wait to see Instana's progress and how the platform will be used.