Cisco folds AppDynamics AIOps into its infrastructure tools

Cisco shops might welcome new integrations between AppDynamics AIOps tools and Cisco Intersight management software, but whether they will draw in other users is uncertain.

AppDynamics AIOps monitoring is now integrated with Cisco's Intersight infrastructure management software, a move that's a potential boon for shops that already use Cisco gear but which faces stiff competition in the wider market for hybrid cloud and IT automation tools.

AppDynamics AIOps application performance monitoring tool can now exchange data and correlate alerts with Cisco's Intersight IT infrastructure management portal, including automated root cause analysis. When the integration becomes generally available in the second quarter of 2020, AppDynamics alerts will trigger infrastructure automation through the integration with Intersight according to user-set policies. A new Intersight Workload Optimizer will add infrastructure cost optimization and performance management recommendations.

Cisco plans to bundle the integrated software with a new Cisco HyperFlex hyper-converged infrastructure product dubbed the HyperFlex Application Platform. The appliance will include Kubernetes container management based on the Cisco Container Platform, and manage container resources both on premises and on AWS and Microsoft Azure public clouds.

Shops that have already bought Cisco HyperFlex and Intersight are eager to add AppDynamics AIOps.

John Gaede, Sky Lakes Medical CenterJohn Gaede

"I'm excited about visibility into applications being brought together with the infrastructure world," said John Gaede, director of information systems at Sky Lakes Medical Center, a community hospital in Klamath Falls, Ore., which rolled out HyperFlex infrastructure, Cisco wireless services, unified communications systems, data center switches and routers as part of a package deal last year. "This will be the first time we have both application and infrastructure teams share insights, and I hope it cuts down on finger-pointing."

Sky Lakes must keep up with increasing technical complexity as it introduces telehealth mobile apps, which will probably prompt the hospital to use Kubernetes and public cloud more as it works with third-party service providers, Gaede said.

Cisco looks to tap AIOps and hybrid cloud buzz

AIOps integration with IT automation software is an emerging trend in DevOps monitoring. Resolve Systems, for example, will release an AIOps and IT automation platform based on its acquisition of FixStream next month, and AppDynamics customers such as Alaska Airlines recently indicated that they want AIOps to automatically trigger actions in Cisco's infrastructure to hasten incident response.

Cisco has taken a measured pace on integration roadmap since it acquired AppDynamics in 2017, though it did roll out AppDynamics AIOps hooks for ACI network virtualization in January 2019.

Putting infrastructure operations teams on the same page with application DevOps teams, as Sky Lakes' Gaede envisions, is also a common goal among enterprises, analysts said.

"Heroic efforts among IT folks aren't going to keep up with distributed and multi-cloud environments," said Bob Laliberte, analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group. "This is Cisco's first shot at putting all these pieces together to improve IT productivity."

It will be some months before this latest rejiggering of Cisco's hybrid cloud container management tech becomes available. Sky Lakes hasn't yet tested the AppDynamics AIOps integration with Intersight or the Workload Optimizer, both of which will become generally available in the second quarter. It also hasn't yet tested the HyperFlex Application Platform, or HXAP, which will be available in public beta in the second quarter.

This will be the first time we have both application and infrastructure teams share insights, and I hope it cuts down on finger-pointing.
John GaedeDirector of information systems, Sky Lakes Medical Center

Cisco must clarify its product rationalization here, as it already markets several hybrid cloud, multi-cloud and container management tools, from Cisco CloudCenter to HyperFlex platform for Google Anthos. HXAP will support AWS and Azure clouds but does not replace the Cisco Container Platform. Cisco isn't sharing any plans to support Red Hat OpenShift or Google Anthos on HXAP at this time.

HXAP has two significant architectural improvements that build on existing container support in HyperFlex systems, according to a Cisco spokesperson.

First, Kubernetes is integrated natively and won't require a separate third-party hypervisor. Second, Cisco Container Platform's container management features have been integrated with Intersight, creating a new SaaS-based container management tool that's included with HXAP.

Meanwhile, existing HyperFlex customers that want Kubernetes support, AppDynamics AIOps and Intersight Workload Optimizer can upgrade to get those features. No new hardware is required for a switch to HXAP, but a customer will need to reimage and reinstall their HyperFlex nodes, according to a Cisco spokesperson.

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