July 14, 2023 By Jeff Hamilton 4 min read

Some of you may have noticed a new Automation icon in the IBM® Instana® Observability main menu. We are pleased to announce that our Action Framework is now in open beta:

Previous posts have discussed how we are taking Instana beyond pure observability and helping you take action from within Instana when events or incidents occur (see “Tech Preview:  Take Action from within Instana using our Action Framework,” “Instana Wants To Help You Resolve Issues – Faster!,” “Automated Remediation: Fail Fast, Fix Fast”).

We are excited to make some of these capabilities available for you to try out and tell you about some other things we have in the works that will be coming soon. 

Demo video: How Instana Action Framework can be used with Ansible to detect and remediate an incident

What is an Action Framework?

The basic idea is that we provide the concept of an action catalog within Instana. You can create new actions or reuse your existing automations (e.g., Ansible, PagerDuty, etc.). Actions can then be associated with various Instana events and will be visible to each event occurrence as potential actions to run. Actions can be run via an action sensor on an Instana agent, and action output will be collected and made visible without ever leaving Instana. You can run actions manually or automatically (coming soon). We can also leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to get action recommendations based on event context.

How the Action Framework helps you

Regardless of where you currently are in the spectrum of automation, these actions can assist with diagnosing a problem faster, working around it or fully remediating it:

  • On the one end of the automation spectrum, Instana users with little existing automation may have actions that are simple doc links that point to notes or wikis with tips or instructions for what to do when they see a particular event. This can be very valuable as it quickly gets teams to the next steps or provides info on whom to contact, directly from the event.
  • In the middle of the automation spectrum, users typically have actions that run scripts that do must-gather or run diagnostics to expedite getting to the root cause.
  • At the other end of the automation spectrum, more advanced users typically have scripts or web hooks calling existing automations or playbooks that mitigate the problem or fully remediate it. 

Take intelligent action

Action history

In all cases, learning from the past can be incredibly valuable. What did we do last time we saw this event?  Who ran what and was it successful? Having that at your fingertips can help you hit the ground running instead of starting from scratch each time.

Action recommendations

When you go to associate an action to an event, you will see a Confidence score on the right-hand side. This leverages AI built into the framework that uses text-similarity matching to compare the metadata from the event with the actions in the catalog. It will then recommend which actions we think may be most relevant to help you remediate or diagnose this particular event. This is an area that we are actively working on to incorporate additional AI models and data from Instana to make it even smarter. 

Find out more

Coming soon

Here is a sneak peek at what we are planning to deliver in the Action Framework.

  1. Detailed action history:
    • What is it?: Additional logging of action details, such as when it was run, by who, success/fail stats, etc.
    • Why?: Better auditability of actions that have been run. This data also helps us better recommend actions to run in the future.
  2. Enhanced integration with Ansible Automation Platform:
    • What is it?: An Ansible-specific action sensor.
    • Why?: For customers that have both Instana and Ansible, this will allow Ansible job templates to be automatically imported and synchronized across both tools.  It will also add the ability to seamlessly launch and monitor the status of Ansible jobs.
  3. Automatic triggering of actions:
    • What is it?: The capability to automatically trigger an action when an event occurs.
    • Why?: Our current beta only supports the manual running of actions, but we will be adding full auto capability soon. 
  4. Enhanced AI recommendations:
    • What is it?: More advanced AI models from watsonx.ai for matching an observed event and its context to an appropriate action. We are also working on out-of-the-box action recommendations for built-in events. We are partnering with IBM Research to improve both the AI itself and the data it can utilize. 
    • Why?: Leverage AI to help you reduce MTTR.

Get started

No action is needed by you to explore this new option. Just click on the Automation icon on the Instana dashboard to get started with the beta:

If you would like a live demo, have questions or want to provide feedback on our new Action Framework, contact us.

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