Cisco Nabs Replex to Bring Cloud Observability to AppDynamics

Cisco Systems is adding more cloud-native observability to its AppDynamics platform with the acquisition of replex, a five-year-old company that specializes in helping businesses grow visibility into and manage their Kubernetes-based environments. 

Cisco announced the acquisition this week, with Linda Tong, general manager of Cisco’s AppDynamics business, writing in a blog post that the deal will “help AppDynamics grow its product and engineering talent with a view toward accelerating and expanding product capabilities that observe enterprise-scale, cloud-native environments.”

The smaller company’s “deep expertise in Kubernetes, real-time data extraction and analytics will further strengthen AppDynamics’ world-class product and engineering team as we accelerate the delivery of Cisco’s Full-Stack Observability vision,” Tong wrote.

Replex’s Kubernetes Focus

San Francisco-based replex, which has raised $4.2 million since launching in 2016, offers solutions that enable enterprises that are building their cloud-native environments to manage costs and govern their initiatives that feature Kubernetes, which has grown over the past several years into the de facto tool for orchestrating and running container environments.

Replex’s offerings also give both IT and finance teams the insights and tools for managing costs for DevOps teams developing and deploying cloud-native software. Those are the kinds of capabilities that Cisco wants to incorporate into its AppDynamics offerings.

“Over the last 12 months, I’ve talked about the importance of full-stack observability in solving some of the most challenging and complex problems that technologists face today,” Cisco’s Tong wrote. “With the rapid shift toward the digital economy and hybrid world, consistent availability and performance of the applications we rely on — both inside and outside of work — have never been more important.”

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Insights Key to Understanding Business Impacts

Modern businesses are looking for end-to-end visibility of application environments, user experiences and business impacts, she wrote. Having these capabilities allow organizations to understand and better control what happens in the technology stack. They can see what’s happening and address any problems before they arise.

Replex’s offerings give both IT and finance teams the insights and tools for managing costs for DevOps teams developing and deploying cloud-native software.

Cisco has been pushing to build out what it calls its ‘full-stack observability’ platform, with AppDynamics being at the foundation. Cisco bought AppDynamics in 2017 for $3.7 billion, with officials at the time saying that the goal was to deliver complete visibility that spans from the infrastructure and application out to the end user. At the time, they said the visibility space would grow to become a key tool for enabling enterprises to move their businesses forward.

“If you don’t have full-stack visibility, you can’t determine what is working and what isn’t outside of customer complaints,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst with The Enderle Group, told Enterprise Networking Planet. “Even with the complaint, you’ll likely spend some time finding and correcting the problem if you can’t see the entire stack.”

The Need to See the Whole Picture

Enderle compared full-stack visibility to an X-ray.

“If the X-Ray doesn’t see everything, which it doesn’t, then things the X-ray doesn’t see will be hard to identify as problems and you have to move to something far more invasive,” he said. “Same thing here. This visibility helps identify a problem with high fidelity so it can be more quickly and thoroughly fixed.”

Earlier this year, AppDynamics released a report called “Agents of Transformation 2021: The Rise of Full-Stack Observability.” The company interviewed 1,050 IT professionals with large companies and found that 96 percent of technologists said not having genuine visibility and insights into the performance of the technology stacks had negative consequences and 76 percent said they can no longer afford to rely on their gut instincts when it came to technology performance.

The report also said that 79 percent of those surveyed understood that the technology decisions they make directly impact the performance of the business but that 66 percent felt they didn’t have the strategy and tools to effectively measure how those decisions affected business outcomes. In addition, 73 percent said their inability to connect full-stack observability with business outcomes would be detrimental to their businesses this year.

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Technologists Lacking Tools

“Today, many technologists are still without the tools they need to achieve their organization’s innovation goals — creating difficulties in isolating technology performance issues and applying business context to technology decisions to better prioritize actions,” the report’s authors wrote. “They need to observe what matters most by quickly understanding how it impacts the business. This will help them to prioritize actions, innovations and investments based on the direct impact to customers and the business. Only when technologists are able to apply a business lens to IT performance can they truly connect the dots up and down the technology stack, cut through the ‘noise’ caused by ever-increasing volumes of data, and turn IT performance into business profit.”

AppDynamics is a key part of Cisco’s larger observability efforts, Tong wrote.

“The AppDynamics Business Observability platform is a critical component of Cisco’s Full-Stack Observability strategy,” she wrote. “The addition of replex’s highly skilled team to AppDynamics will enable us to accelerate and broaden the platform’s capabilities and deliver on this strategy.”

Cisco Builds Up AppDynamics Capabilities

Cisco has been adding to AppDynamics’ capabilities. Cisco last year bought ThousandEyes, an internet and cloud intelligence platform provider whose technology enabled enterprises to gain insights into any network and to solve problems with internet and cloud service providers. Cisco has since tightened integration between AppDynamics and ThousandEyes.

In January, Cisco closed its acquisition of Dashbase and its capabilities around logging and events analytics, which officials said would improve AppDynamics’ processes around case investigation and issue resolution.

In August, Cisco announced it was buying Israeli startup Epsagon, whose platform aims to enable IT and developers to trace modern applications in container and serverless environments.

Enderle said AppDynamics has become a critical part of Cisco’s management architecture.

“Minimizing downtime and maximizing customer satisfaction are required,” the analyst said, adding that the acquisition of replex “will significantly improve Cisco’s competitive advantage in assuring uptime and user [and] customer satisfaction.” 

Cisco’s larger full-stack capability “will improve uptime and customer satisfaction because folks aren’t very tolerant of problems that don’t go away or take months to diagnose and fix,” Enderle said. “Cisco is consistently trying to differentiate on the customer experience and this acquisition is just another indication they are taking that experience advantage seriously enough to fund acquisitions like this.”

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Jeff Burt
Jeffrey Burt has been a journalist for more than three decades, the last 20-plus years covering technology. During more than 16 years with eWEEK, he covered everything from data center infrastructure and collaboration technology to AI, cloud, quantum computing and cybersecurity. A freelance journalist since 2017, his articles have appeared on such sites as eWEEK, The Next Platform, ITPro Today, Channel Futures, Channelnomics, SecurityNow, Data Breach Today, InternetNews and eSecurity Planet.

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