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Data analytics infrastructure is evolving to become more automated and more transparent, and IBM’s recent acquisition of startup Databand.ai will advance the company’s product portfolio further along these lines. It’s part of a larger strategy by IBM to provide a single solution for observability in business, says IBM VP of Data and AI Mike Gilfix.

Databand.ai has described itself as a data observability software company whose software helps companies fix issues with their data. That could include problems with data quality, errors, and pipeline failures. The idea is to catch the problems before they impact anything important.

“We know that bad data for organizations is an expensive problem,” says Gilfix. He cites a Gartner estimate that the average company is losing approximately $13 million annually due to bad data. That might mean that not all the data was delivered to the critical business tools that needed them, or it might mean that a critical part of the data pipeline infrastructure has gone down, according to Gilfix.

Managing Data

While observability is not a new concept for application performance management, the application of observability to data infrastructure is more recent, Gilfix says. With this acquisition, IBM is bringing the concept of observability to data infrastructure challenges.

The Databand.ai acquisition also fits into an existing product portfolio that’s been developed with an eye to providing more automation and transparency to those who work with data, data infrastructure, and advanced analytics.

These moves by IBM feed into a larger trend in the data innovation and data analytics market. Gartner VP Rita Sallam told InformationWeek that AI technologies are set to disrupt traditional data management practices. Thankfully, many vendors are building this type of functionality into the tool sets they offer to customers.

IBM’s Tool Set Trajectory

In December 2020 IBM announced plans to acquire the enterprise and application performance monitoring platform Instana. IBM said that the AI-powered platform provides automation capabilities to manage the complexity of modern applications that span hybrid clouds. The product in the suite is called IBM Observability by Instana APM.

The third component in the portfolio is IBM Watson Studio. Gilfix says that this technology brings a form of observability to machine learning models.

“You can observe those algorithms and figure out how to manage them by explaining why an algorithm made its decision or detecting drift in the datasets that might require retraining the algorithm,” he says.

“The opportunity we see now is to bring these three things together into a complete solution for observability for business,” Gilfix says. “By providing a business with the tools to bring observability to applications, to their data, and to their business decisions supported by machine learning, we can give them observability for all the essential ingredients for additional business in a single solution.”

IBM said that Databand.ai will be available to IBM clients through its data fabric architecture, and it will also continue to offer Databand.ai as a standalone solution to customers that are just looking for the data observability functionality.

Databand.ai is headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, and the company’s employees will join IBM as part of the acquisition. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed. IBM did not immediately have information available about overlap between IBM and Databand.ai customers.

Databand.ai marked IBM’s fifth acquisition of 2022. IBM has acquired more than 25 companies since Arvind Krishna became CEO in April 2020.

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