Automation/Observability Market Heats Up with ServiceNow’s Acquisition of Swarm64

Summary Bullets:

Charlotte Dunlap – Principal Analyst, Application Platforms

• ServiceNow’s acquisition of modern database vendor Swarm64 combined with Lightstep’s modern monitoring platform aligns nicely with ServiceNow’s observability strategy.

• Under increased pressure to accelerate digitization of company apps and systems, integrated observability technologies (as a component of automation solutions) will play a significant role in accelerating app modernization in the next six to 12 months.

Last week saw more jostling among players involved in the hotly contested intelligent automation space, with workflow automation leader ServiceNow continuing its technology buying spree to reinforce its DevOps arsenal.

ServiceNow announced plans last week to acquire hybrid database vendor Swarm64 to help ease management of large volumes of data transactions via advanced analytics. The move comes on the heels of its acquisition of Lightstep, a modern monitoring platform which aligns nicely with ServiceNow’s observability strategy. ServiceNow has become a growing competitive threat in the automation and observability space, stemming from enhancements to its Now Platform under an initiative the company calls insight-guided workflows.

ServiceNow told GlobalData that observability is a perfect example of the need for Swarm64’s ability to respond to the surge in event and data monitoring with the future being ML-powered predictive and prescriptive analytics for enabling proactive responses in order to prevent incidents. This is particularly important for those use cases which require large scale, repetitive queries for model development and training alongside fast inference execution.

Under increased pressure to accelerate digitization of company apps and systems, integrated observability technologies (as a component of automation solutions) will play a significant role in accelerating app modernization in the next six to 12 months. Innovations including AI-injected monitoring and tracking solutions have taken traditional APM technologies to new levels. Machine learning and natural language processing are also playing a role in automated solutions which not only scope out problems, but take action without human intervention. Event-driven architects will monitor data while it’s in motion as the industry moves from data-centric models and the focus on data at rest to a focus on events.

ServiceNow is playing an increasingly prominent role alongside various rivals in the intelligent automation ecosystem which includes Microsoft, Google, Pegasystems, Salesforce, IBM, Appian, and others. During its annual conference this spring, ServiceNow highlighted three key differentiators including low-code strengths to ease process automation; integration via pre-built connectors; and extensibility to work on legacy app architectures.

Late last year ServiceNow partnered with IBM to combine strengths and pursue the DevOps intelligent workflow automation megatrend. IBM recognized ServiceNow’s heavy investment in its Now Platform, which reduces time-consuming manual tasks involved with IT operation’s incidents/risks, freeing them up to focus on more business-critical tasks—technology IBM married with its Watson AIOps solution, as part of its broader Automation Foundation initiative.

OSS plays an important role in ServiceNow’s latest acquisition and to this market segment in general. Swarm64 runs on top of open-source PostgreSQL database, so the company has released core parts of its offering as open source projects. This is likely to continue as ServiceNow recognizes the importance of accelerating its development rate through community feedback. Similarly, Lightstep had a strong commitment to OSS considering its founders were founders of both the OpenTracing and OpenTelemetry projects, highly popular CNCF-backed technologies.

AI-enhanced automation has become an increasingly prominent component of a DevOps toolbox, bridging the cloud’s value chain with traditional processes and newer app modernization objectives. Solutions assembled within an emerging intelligent process automation (IPA) category aim to help eliminate the time-consuming tasks required to manually build business processes under stringent demands of a digital era. Enterprises are faced with significantly increased data connectivity requirements and heightened customer experience engagement objectives. IPA supports scalability through a cloud infrastructure and AI-enhanced backend systems connectivity and tools, provided through low-code platforms making them accessible to business users. Still largely a convoluted effort, the industry has begun seeing platform providers formulate strategies after investing heavily in software automation, a term generally defined as having AI/ML, robotic process automation (RPA), low-code platforms, revised versions of process management systems, and increasingly observability innovations. Please see The Vendors Launching the intelligent Process Automation Market (Part II), June 24, 2020).

Note, GlobalData will discuss the emerging market and strategies of observability solutions in a new Advisory Report slated for September 2021.

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