Interview

Big data monitoring in real-time – Q&A with Gary Read, Boundary

Chris Mayer
Boundary-Logo

We chat to big data monitoring startup about their latest real-time release, the Big Data landscape and also the future for DevOps.

This week Boundary, a San Francisco big data monitoring
company, announced that their latest SaaS solution is now generally
available to all. Boundary think that it’s time to rethink big data
monitoring and allow organisations to get handle on the huge amount
of data at their disposal, ultimately on a real-time basis.
Boundary claim to offer continuous quality of service
and a greatly increased operational agility. This release is also
significant as it allows DevOps teams to react swiftly to any
change in a traffic trend.
We spoke to their new CEO, Nimsoft founder Gary Read
to talk about the release, where Boundary are heading and the
everchanging landscapes of big data and DevOps.
JAX – So a lot has changed since we interviewed
Boundary back in November. Former CEO Ben Black left and you’ve
stepped in. What attracted you to Boundary in the first
place?
After I left Nimsoft I was looking for a really special
opportunity. I wanted to find a company that was operating in a
massive market with technology that was game-changing. I didn’t
mind how early the company was. In fact, in many ways I prefer to
be in on the ground floor.

But the most important characteristic that attracted me to Boundary
was the people. I love to work with super-smart, highly motivated
individuals that are also grounded and humble. I found an amazing
team at Boundary led by the founder and CTO Cliff Moon.

What previous experience do you have in the
field?

I’ve been working with monitoring and management tools for over 20
years. First, as a customer and user of them, then in multiple
different companies as technical support, sales, marketing, product
management, and, most recently, as founder/CEO of Nimsoft. So yes,
I have a considerable amount of experience, but Boundary is doing
things differently from those other companies – otherwise I
wouldn’t be here!

Has there been a lot of upheaval or is the Boundary
philosophy still present?

There hasn’t been much upheaval at all, actually – Boundary’s
approach to monitoring for big data architectures is what initially
attracted me to this opportunity.

There have been a few changes in some of the leadership positions
at the company but we’ve remained true to the core philosophy of
the company. Change is inevitable at start-ups, in fact it’s the
ones that don’t change and adapt that most often die.

For those unaware of this recent start-up, can you explain
where Boundary fits in with other cloud start-ups?

There is currently a huge amount of activity around Big Data.
Everywhere you look, people are talking about big data, the
benefits of big data analytics, the platforms and systems required
to provide big data analytics and big data applications and
architectures are being rapidly adopted.

But nobody is providing the monitoring and management tools to keep
these environments performing at their optimum rates. This is
pretty typical: monitoring tools typically lag the applications
that need them by several years. Boundary is the first company to
be supporting real-time monitoring of Big Data architectures.

Do you feel it’s important to adapt to the rapidly changing
environment around you? Is real-time monitoring taking a bigger
precedence for enterprises?

Yes. Central to my philosophy for running Boundary is to always be
listening to customers and the market and adapting the company.
Monitoring is already a multi-billion dollar market and has been
very important to corporate enterprises; but with the pace of
change of applications today and the complexity increasing,
monitoring is becoming critical. 

Tell us more about your vision for Boundary

Our belief is that monitoring is fundamentally an analytics
problem. Existing solutions that have tried this approach have
often failed because they are limited by the manner and the amount
of data that they collect.

All existing solutions are based on a methodology that includes
“sampling” for data on regular intervals, generally doing so every
5 minutes or 15 minutes. This limits the effectiveness of these
solutions because they are averaging over this interval and, as we
all know, 5 minutes is a lifetime for modern web
applications.

We believe that Boundary, by solving the fundamental issue around
the volume and velocity of the data will lead a complete
re-invention of the monitoring market.

One day, all monitoring solutions will be built this way and
Boundary will be known as the company that spawned a whole new
generation.

Where does this new platform fit in? What exactly new does
it offer?

Boundary is providing customers the ability to spot potential
issues in their big data application architectures before they
affect (their) customers. The level of visibility offered by
Boundary has never before been possible and when customers see the
Boundary solution they have what we’ve been calling an “HD
effect.”

By that, I mean that they see something that they didn’t previously
know was possible but have a hard time living without now that they
know of its existence. This is similar to the introduction of HDTVs
to the market several years ago. It provides an unprecedented level
of visibility that allows you to more fully process events.

What technologies have been used to make the platform? Did
you discount any whilst testing?

Technologies that we are using for Boundary include Erlang, Scala,
Java, Riak among others. We also tried and ultimately discounted
others, including Cassandra, HBase, and Esper.

You’ve talked about the importance of big data. Do you feel
enough enterprises are truly utilising big data metrics as well as
they could?

I think that big data has a large amount of mind share at the
moment and will move into mainstream adoption. The issue today
seems to be that, while there is a lot of discussion and maybe a
lot of “intent,” I think that it is harder than most people think
and the skills that are required are in extremely short
supply

DevOps seems to be talked about a lot in the industry at
the moment. Do you truly believe it is the way forward for
development?

Yes. The requirements of the business for increasing the rate of
change and delivery of new application functionality will continue
to accelerate – efficient and effective delivery of IT has become a
competitive advantage.  

The only way for IT to respond effectively to these
requirements is to become much more efficient in the way that it
operates. Whether it’s called DevOps, NoOps or whatever other term
is used, the efficiency and speed between development, QA and
operations is the way of the future. It will of course take some
companies much longer to adopt than others.
The DevOps movement has gained validation from vendors and analysts
alike, and there’s a definite uptick in demand for DevOps-centric
jobs. This trend was perhaps best described in a November 2011 Gartner
report by Cameron Haight
, which was aptly titled DevOps and
Monitoring: New Rules for New Environments.
Thanks for talking to us!
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