Wednesday, 02 October 2019 16:05

Dynatrace applies AI to application performance management

Dynatrace APAC CTO Rafi Katanasho Dynatrace APAC CTO Rafi Katanasho

Deterministic AI can do a good job of root cause analysis, according to applications performance management vendor Dynatrace.

Technological and organisational changes over the last seven years or so – cloud, containers, Agile, DevOps, and so on – have significantly increased the complexity of IT management, Dynatrace APAC CTO Rafi Katanasho told iTWire.

Modern architectures mean that one transaction can involve 20 microservices and 40 servers, and that presents "a huge challenge" for people trying to work out what went wrong.

Throwing more people at the problem doesn't work, so better tools are needed. But organisations now need at least 17 types of monitoring tools, he said, and they still end up with experts sifting through the information collected in order to diagnose a problem.

A recent Dynatrace-sponsored survey of 800 CIOs found 76% do not have complete visibility into application performance in cloud-native architectures, and that on average IT teams spend around a third of their time tackling performance problems.

Dynatrace's approach os to put AI at the heart of the process, rather than bolting it on as an afterthought.

The result, according to Katanasho, is an all-in-one system that covers code to customer experience and everything in between.

That includes mainframes, middleware, private cloud, containers and more.

Dynatrace's Davis AI is based on ten years of experience gained by the best engineers, he said. Bringing all the signals together in a single place makes it possible to determine the root cause and explain the process.

This deterministic approach means there is no need to train the model with local data, so it is ready to go straight out of the box.

The software includes visualisations to help people learn from Davis, and this can help avoid similar problems in the future.

The objective is to "not just fix [the system] but to optimise it," said Katanasho.

Significantly, Davis makes it possible to involve only the right people in a rectification process. For example, an internet banking system might be running slowly. If Davis finds the root cause is a problem with an SQL stored procedure, there's no need to tell the network staff.

Once the organisation has come to trust Davis's diagnoses, it is relatively easy to automate various types of fixes.

SAP Cloud is managed with the help of Dynatrace, and according to Katanasho the company has yet to find a case where Davis got it wrong.

Dynatrace takes business information – such as the value of transactions – into account, helping to ensuring that technical decisions align with business needs.

To "humanise the AI capability" and help ensure that it is accessible by all stakeholders, Dynatrace interfaces with voice assistants such as Alexa and Google Assistant, and with collaboration tools such as Slack.

"AI is a huge buzzword at the moment," Katanasho observed, but the way to apply it effectively is to aim at a clear business problem. In Dynatrace's case, that's the efficient operation of digital businesses.


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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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