SignalFX Emerges From Stealth To Modernize Cloud Application Monitoring

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

SignalFX Emerges From Stealth Replete With New $20M Funding.

SignalFx, a cloud application monitoring company, designed to help customers visualize issues and work at Web scale, came out of stealth today revealing two previously unannounced funding rounds and launching their product publicly for the first time. Venture capitalist, entrepreneur and hip-hop fan Ben Horowitz says that the roles of the software developer and corporate IT are blurring, and that developers need new tools that allow them to monitor the performance of their work after it has been launched into the market.”Having built a few traditional systems management products, it is quite obvious to me that none of the important, existing products work properly for cloud architectures,” said Ben Horowitz, co-founder and partner, Andreessen Horowitz. “Naturally, when I had a chance to fund two great entrepreneurs in Phil and Karthik, who not only understood the problem, but built the definitive solution, I did not hesitate to invest.” Built by inventors of cloud-scale monitoring technologies for today’s Internet giants, SignalFx is a SaaS-based monitoring platform that uses SignalFlow™ streaming and historical analytics technology on operational metrics at any scale to provide an interactive, system-wide view of applications and infrastructure.Asserting that application monitoring technology designed for the age of monolithic computers hasn’t kept pace with today’s highly containerized and distributed environments, (formerly SignalFuse) is emerging from stealth today with a fresh $28.5 million funding round and technology that it says approaches monitoring from a radically new perspective.

That represents a major change in process, organization and culture, given that developers traditionally threw finished code over the wall for IT to operate and monitor. The distributed and dynamic nature of modern applications has turned monitoring into an analytics problem — SignalFx enables development and operations teams to shift from component-level monitoring to detecting aggregate patterns and anomalies across their distributed applications in real time. “The move towards SaaS and cloud business models has introduced a major disruption in the world of downstream operations management products, with the monitoring category at the center of this disruption,” said Devdutt Yellurkar, general partner at Charles River Ventures. “SignalFx is truly changing the game for monitoring modern applications with its breakthroughs in streaming analytics technology. The Silicon Valley company, whose co-founders hail from Facebook and VMware, Inc. says distributed applications have introduced complexity that frustrates the ability of traditional monitoring systems to provide meaningful information.

The opportunities that lie ahead for the company are massive and as a board member, I’m looking forward to working with a talented and experienced team to lead the way to the future of application and systems monitoring technology.” Traditional monitoring products are largely unsuitable for modern applications. Applications are now deployed across large numbers of virtual machines (VMs), making the alerts that have traditionally been used to signal problems far less meaningful. The two founders have first-class Silicon Valley pedigrees with CEO Karthik Rau coming from Delphix and VMware and CTO Phillip Liu, who spent 4 years working at Facebook as a software architect. Those roles have blurred in the era of DevOps, a process in which testing and customer feedback occur alongside development, and continue after launch. Monitoring has historically been one of the largest segments of the operations space and one of the first categories to be transformed by a platform shift.

In this world, developers need to be responsible for testing all the way through the cycle, and that requires a new set of monitoring tools, according to Mr. Apply custom analytics pipelines to your data as it comes in, choosing from a comprehensive library of functions like sums, percentiles, moving averages, and standard deviations. Traditional monitoring solutions set alerts using static thresholds on metrics collected from individual components, resulting in “noisy” alerts for distributed applications.

Facebook started by using open source tools for this purpose, but soon found (as it often does), that these tools were not sufficient to work at Facebook scale. As a result, alerts can degrade into background noise that doesn’t help administrators pinpoint problems. “It’s very noisy to fire off alerts when you’ve got thousands of VMs,” Rau said. “If one node is down, that doesn’t mean that your application is in trouble.” Nevertheless, enterprise monitoring technologies “haven’t evolved much in the last 15 or 20 years,” Rau added. Fast forward to today and things are very different – developers are increasingly making use of modular application components and are distributing their applications on infrastructure far and wide – the modern application is an ephemeral thing that sits in many different places at any one time. SignalFx delivers unparalleled self-service access to all of the application and infrastructure metrics most critical to the success of an application. While SignalFX has been in stealth, its product has been being used by organization in production – Yelp, TapJoy and Chairish are on record as beta customers.

Build alerts on better signals, such as fleet-wide behavior in percentiles or service-level error rates, rather than individual systems or static thresholds. Companies large and small, including Yelp, Tapjoy, Symphony Commerce and Chairish, rely on SignalFx to innovate faster and make their customers happy with well-built, reliably performing, rapidly improving applications. Wes Jossey, head of operations at TapJoy and well respected as a no-nonsense operator, had this to say about SignalFX: SignalFX is so powerful because it lets us look at aggregations like the 95th percentile and stream them alongside the same analytics from a day ago, week ago, or any time that makes sense—side by side within seconds of the new raw data coming in. The real-time, interactive nature of SignalFlow technology enables organizations to ask and answer questions about their operations as events are still occurring in their environments. The company says its approach is better suited to a new world in which “a lot of problems introduced into environments are human problems,” Rau said on theCUBE. ”A new user gets on board and all of a sudden there’s a 10X impact on your systems.

When you can quickly understand everything that’s going on in the environment you can detect these changes and quickly decide what your next step should be.” SignalFx hits the market at the end of a six-month beta test with paying customers already on board. Horowitz, the co-founder of Opsware, an enterprise software company that Hewlett-Packard Co. acquired for $1.6 billion in 2007. “It used to be that every server was sacred and if one went down, it was a catastrophe,” Mr. He provided personal context revealing insights into the spirit of SignalFX co-founder Phil Liu, then shared insights into Ben’s view on why neww approaches to systems management are required. Paul Gillin is a writer, speaker and online marketing consultant who helps business-to-business marketers use social media and quality content to reach and engage with customers. The fact that a company of this stage gets a name like Yellurkar (alongside Andreessen Horowitz co-founder Ben Horowitz) on the board instead of some lower level partner is indicative just how seriously these firms are taking SignalFX.

What’s more, the customer can use this information as a big data analytics engine to answer questions such as which customers are experiencing the highest latency, which are using the application most often and so forth. While NewRelic gets the lion’s share of the attention in this space, it is a massive opportunity – SignalFX looks well positioned to capture some of that pie. Knowing when a cluster of services that provides, for example, an identity service is out of capacity is critical, but getting paged in the middle of the night because you lost one server in a cluster of 20 is asinine. Developers are central to the business — Developers are now playing a much more critical role in the business and need an application intelligence solution the same way marketers need business intelligence.

We find correlations as soon as problems arise, whether it’s due to a client action or to some internal event or change.” “SignalFx has become the first place I go whenever we run into an issue. It has helped my team catch problems like memory leaks before they impacted our production site and Chairish customers, even helping us save money on infrastructure.

In case, like me, you think application performance monitoring vendors could be competition as well, Rau sees them as a source of data for his tool, another set of information to give developers insight, but not necessarily as a form of competition. Don’t feel badly if you can’t answer that because it would be a silly thing to know, yet monitoring systems have wanted people to know such things for years. Such monitoring tools will vary from case to case. “Memory usage, response time .. any number of things may characterize an application tier, or Web tier. The critical thing is that while a server may go down, an application can’t, he said. “At a company like Facebook, which is generating billions of dollars a quarter, you can’t afford to go down for even a minute,” he said. “In the old days, from the engineering standpoint, functionality was a huge thing.

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