Mobile-to-Mainframe Observability with Instana on z/OS

3 min read

Instana on z/OS offers critical IBM Z-focused observability features.

In the past few days, if you checked your bank account, visited the doctor, swiped your credit card, or made travel plans, then there’s a good chance you interacted with an IBM mainframe — whether you knew it or not.

The mainframe remains a critical and strategic component of enterprise IT. If you look at the application estate of many large businesses, you will find that core business applications and workflows run on the mainframe or integrate with mainframe applications and data. Unmatched reliability and security make it an important fixture in 67 of the Fortune 100 companies and across many industries. These companies continue to trust IBM Z to run their core business workflows and transaction systems that can drive or touch 65% of their revenue.

IBM Z may be the quiet workhorse powering many of our critical digital services, but it is often a blind spot in enterprise-wide application performance management (APM) tools, making it hard to identify, analyze and resolve problems when they arise. Modern observability platforms have been built from the ground up to take advantage of new technologies like Kubernetes and cloud-native microservices, but evolving enterprises are often trying to bridge the gap between old-school reliability, current business needs and future innovation.

Introducing IBM Observability by Instana APM for z/OS

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 for. Instana provides a host of leading observability capabilities, such as comprehensive collection of application traces, relating of logs, metrics and dependencies, instantaneous automated instrumentation and AI-based root cause analysis. 

We’re excited to add to that list by announcing IBM Observability by Instana APM for z/OS (Instana on z/OS, for short). This product is a marriage of open source and hybrid cloud technologies that unlocks an integrated mobile-to-mainframe monitoring experience to eliminate the all-too-common IBM Z blind spot. 

Imagine you are an application owner responsible for a core business application relied on by millions of customers daily. You are using Instana to gain full context and monitoring of the services and infrastructure that make up this application. There is one problem — this application makes calls to z/OS and there are subsequently several business workflows that take place on-platform that continue to elude your team. 

By adding Instana on z/OS, the critical work that is taking place is no longer a mystery to the rest of the organization. Calls to the mainframe can be viewed in application-context and show up integrated alongside the rest of the services being monitored by Instana. Regardless of your familiarity with the mainframe, you can identify Z-specific middleware resources supporting the given application (like CICS and IMS), get details on the API calls being made to those Z resources or gain insights into z/OS databases (like Db2 and VSAM) at the end of a transaction’s journey. 

Instana users can quickly understand how specific Z resources are supporting their critical hybrid applications.

Instana users can quickly understand how specific Z resources are supporting their critical hybrid applications.

    Instana + Instana on z/OS provides a summary view of application health across all involved hybrid components, including Z resources.

    Instana + Instana on z/OS provides a summary view of application health across all involved hybrid components, including Z resources.

    The Instana services view is finally complete when integrated with Instana on z/OS, and anyone in the organization can understand the various involved Z technologies and their health.

    The Instana services view is finally complete when integrated with Instana on z/OS, and anyone in the organization can understand the various involved Z technologies and their health.

    The importance of mainframe observability and visibility

    IBM has been working to ensure that IBM Z can participate in modern APM solutions for several years now through our existing offering, IBM Z APM Connect. We have heard from customers across all industries and the globe that greater mainframe visibility across the enterprise is critical for improved problem isolation and resolution — but mostly for helping eliminate painfully siloed teams. IBM Z APM Connect will continue as a separate product that provides Z transactional visibility in Instana and a growing range of APM vendors. Instana on z/OS will further build on the progress we have made with Z APM Connect by offering additional Z-focused observability features. Future Instana on z/OS integrations will provide even deeper glimpses to what is happening on the mainframe and enhance collaboration between all teams in the organization to further break down silos. 

    I hear daily from our customers how increasingly challenging it is to manage critical apps and data across a variety of hybrid cloud environments as they embrace a broader digital transformation strategy. We are so excited to help businesses better manage the complexity of modern applications with Instana on z/OS.

    Learn more

    If any of this piques your interest, we have several ways for you to learn more and get engaged.

    • Join us at the "End-to-end observability from mobile to mainframe" webinar on September 23, 2021, where we will dive deeper into the Instana on z/OS use case and demo the integration. 
    • Consider serving as a sponsor user to help shape future releases. The level of commitment is fully up to you, and we're always looking to gather as much feedback as possible. 
    • Reach out to the IBM product managers supporting this product with any follow-up questions you have: Aaron Tobin and Nicole Nemec. We look forward to hearing from you. 
    • To better understand the linkages with development, read this blog: "Breaking down silos between Dev and Ops: IBM Z DevOps solutions + Instana for z/OS"

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