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Performance Monitoring Tools

Boundary Seeks New Frontier in IT Monitoring

Gary Read knows IT monitoring. His CV covers a who’s who of the space from Boole & Babbage and its acquirer BMC, to RiverSoft and Nimsoft where he was CEO until the company was sold in 2010 to the big shark in the pool, CA. Today though, Read feels he has his biggest chance yet, with plans to reinvent the segment for the modern day via the latest company he leads, Boundary.

We speak by phone; Read from Austin, Texas where the three-year-old startup has offices that complement headquarters in downtown San Francisco, although his accent is from his native England’s East London/Essex area. He sounds buoyant, perhaps because early in April Boundary announced it had pulled in another $22m to almost double its funding.

“It was very fast round for us,” he says. “We started talking to investors in the second week of February. Investors are seeing it’s a hot space.”

Think of what Salesforce.com has done in CRM, Workday in HR, NetSuite across the back-office, Box in collaboration and Google in productivity. Read sees the big opportunity as revamping the staid world of listening in to applications, datacentres and networks in the same way that other disruptors have shaken up other B2B enterprise IT areas.

“Four or five large brand-name companies have dominated this space in the past: CA, BMC, IBM, HP, Quest Software. But what Splunk has done in data and what ServiceNow did to Remedy and HP in helpdesks, is very analogous to what’s happening in the monitoring space. Older products are being out-innovated and people are moving to a cloud solution. IT is having to innovate very, very fast. In the old world there might have been an update every six or 12 months but now it’s every couple of weeks. That situation has rendered older tools as legacy because they were built with the expectation of a static environment.”

Boundary’s promise is to monitor applications sitting in heavily virtualised datacentres and in the cloud as well as on premise. It sells (mostly direct) in two ways; more than nine in 10, deals or public software-as-a-service subscriptions, similar to a Salesforce; the rest, with a disproportionate number of bigger deals to highly regulated organisations, are “private SaaS” where the software sits inside the corporate firewall. Customers range from enterprises to service providers, telcos and cloud companies including Rackspace, HCL Technologies, TDS Telecom’s OneNeck, software firm Canonical and the Omnifone white-label streaming music service.

The Boundary concept is about velocity and volume, grabbing information everywhere, from the network, infrastructure, servers, storage and services, as well as the application tier.

“The idea is: ‘Let’s collect huge amounts of data at very high frequencies, process it very quickly and put it in context, snapshotting at any point in time to help customers find and resolve issues quicker.’”

Any loss of availability or performance is the arch-enemy.

“There are so many outages happening. Marc Andreessen said software is eating the world but outages are giving it indigestion. Look at Obamacare and Health.gov. These are organisations with deep pockets but even they’re having outages because it’s really difficult.”

Monitoring of services is continuous, regardless of location or platform. So, for example, companies edging into public cloud with a side bet on private cloud, running some managed services and a bunch of on-promise kit can still have unified monitoring and analytics. Dashboards run the gamut of needs from an executive macro perspective or from a techie app (or app element) point of view, and all are available in near to real time.

Read won’t disclose revenues but says the company has 45 staff and 120 customers. It tripled revenues to 2013 and expects to more than triple them again this year. The latest cash injection will help it build out, with plans including a datacentre (owned or shared) in Europe this year to supplement the current mixed model of Boundary’s Virginia datacentre and AWS platform.

Having sold Nimsoft to CA he dreams of going further with an eventual IPO desirable.

Splunk and ServiceNow are templates: they’ve shown us what’s possible. We’re at the early stages of a massive market disruption. Nimsoft was a great exit and everyone was happy but with Boundary what I saw was the opportunity to do something many times beyond what we achieved there. The market is driving companies like ours to grow as fast as possible and there’s a massive opportunity.”

 

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect 

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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