Splunk followed up on its pending acquisition of SignalFx, a provider of an application performance management (APM), by also acquiring Omnition, a startup building a distributed tracing tool accessed as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application.
Rick Fitz, senior vice president and general manager for the IT Markets Group at Splunk, said Omnition consists of a small team of developers who have been especially active in maintaining OpenCensus, an open source set of libraries for various languages that make it easier to collect application metrics and distributed traces and then transfer the data to a backend of choice in real-time; and OpenTelemetry, a project led by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) that merges OpenCensus and OpenTracing to standardize the instrumentation and telemetry data collection.
Distributed tracing is emerging as a requirement for APM platforms because the IT environment is becoming both more complex and ephemeral. Serverless computing frameworks are especially challenging because the only way to know an event occurred involving, for example, cloud bursting is to employ distributed tracing. The challenge is, distributed tracing requires organizations to capture, store and analyze massive amounts of data to pinpoint the root cause of any application performance issue, noted Fitz. As such, distributed tracing tends to be employed only by the most elite DevOps practitioners, as implementing distributed tracing is nontrivial, he added. On the upside, distributed tracing reduces the need to deploy a large amount of agent software across the enterprise.
Fitz said Omnition will provide a set of capabilities that over time will be added to the SignalFx platform. Long-term, Splunk hopes to reduce the costs associated with distributed tracing to the point where that capability becomes democratized, he added, noting that as organizations embrace microservices to build cloud-native applications that will run in hybrid computing environments, increased reliance on distributed tracing is now all but inevitable.
In general, Fitz said Splunk is working toward combining the best elements of DevOps with traditional IT service management (ITSM). Most organizations will be employing both approaches for years to come simply because some applications don’t need to be updated regularly, so it doesn’t make any sense to apply DevOps processes to those applications, he noted. At the same time, as DevOps processes are embraced in enterprise IT environments, appreciation is growing for IT operational challenges that stem from multiple applications running at scale which need to share a limited amount of IT infrastructure resources.
With the acquisitions of SignalFx and now Omnition, Splunk is betting that it will be able to combine IT operational analytics based on machine data generated by logs with an APM platform to correlate application performance against infrastructure events. It’s not clear how long it will be before Splunk can fully realize that vision. In the meantime, the rate at which application and infrastructure management platforms will converge will only accelerate as developers are held more accountable for applications long after they are deployed in a production environment.