IBM acquires Databand to bolster its data observability stack

IBM today announced that it acquired Databand, a startup developing an observability platform for data and machine learning pipelines. Details of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Tel Aviv-based Databand had raised $14.5 million prior to the acquisition.

Databand employees will join IBM’s data and AI division, with the purchase expected to close on July 27.

In a statement, IBM general manager for data and AI Daniel Hernandez said that folding Databand into IBM’s broader portfolio would help the latter’s customers better identify and fix data issues including errors, pipeline failures and poor quality. The plan is to expand Databand’s observability capabilities for integrations across open source and commercial tools, while allowing customers to have “full flexibility” in running Databand either as a service or a self-hosted subscription.

“Our clients are data-driven enterprises who rely on high-quality, trustworthy data to power their mission-critical processes. When they don’t have access to the data they need in any given moment, their business can grind to a halt,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez sees Databand complementing IBM’s existing observability tools, namely IBM Observability by Instana APM and IBM Watson Studio. For example, he suggests, Databand could alert engineers when the data they’re using to power an analytics system is incomplete, triggering Instana to explain where the missing data originated and why the system is failing.

“With the addition of Databand, IBM … is continuing to provide our clients and partners with the technology they need to deliver trustworthy data and AI at scale,” Hernandez added.

Databand was co-founded in 2018 by Josh Benamram, Victor Shafran and Evgeny Shulman. As my colleague Ingrid Lunden wrote in her profile of the company two years ago, Databand crunches various pipeline metadata including logs, runtime info and data profiles, and presents it in a single platform alongside data from other sources like Airflow, Spark and Snowflake. The goal is to give engineers a view of where bottlenecks or anomalies are appearing and the potential reasons why.

Databand managed to attract notable customers including FanDuel, Agoda and Trax Retail. Accel, Blumberg Capital, Lerer Hippeau, Ubiquity Ventures, Differential Ventures and Bessemer Venture Partners were among the early investors.

“You can’t protect what you can’t see, and when the data platform is ineffective, everyone is impacted – including customers,” Benamram said in a statement. “That’s why global brands … already rely on Databand to remove bad data surprises by detecting and resolving them before they create costly business impacts. Joining IBM will help us scale our software and significantly accelerate our ability to meet the evolving needs of enterprise clients.”

Data observability is a burgeoning — and perhaps even recession-proof — market. As the volume of data continues to climb, organizations are struggling to manage the health and quality of their datasets (so the vendor narrative goes). Statista estimates that the sector will increase from $12.98 billion in worth in 2020 to $19.38 billion in 2024, buoyed by the growth of startups like Manta, Monte Carlo, Edge Delta and Cribl. Investors poured over half a billion dollars into observability startups in May alone.

In a press release, IBM notes that Databand is its fifth acquisition in 2022. It continues the buying spree Arvind Krishna kicked off when he became CEO two years ago, focused on companies in AI, automation, cloud and IT.