Interview

Q&A – Boundary co-founder and CEO Ben Black

Chris Mayer
Boundary-Logo

We talk to one of the men behind the SaaS-based solution for monitoring cloud environments, which just launched in November.

So, tell us where the idea for Boundary came from? Was
there a gap in the market?

Managing today’s cloud-based infrastructures is tough.  We
know because we have designed, built, and operated massive
infrastructure using the same tools everyone is trying to use
today. Unfortunately, with the high rate of change that comes with
the dynamism of the cloud, the tremendous increase in the volume of
data, and the demand for real-time analysis, traditional tools fall
short and many organisations are left trying to build their own
solutions using open source alternatives.  They quickly find
that these tools can’t scale and are far too brittle to meet even
the most basic of real-time needs.

We have applied our experiences from Amazon, Microsoft, and
VMware to solving infrastructure monitoring, operations, and
optimisation problems in a fundamentally different way – a way that
reformulates how people can manage their public and private cloud
environments.  Boundary has developed a high-performance
monitoring platform that can deliver real-time visibility and
monitoring as a service, at volumes, speeds, and simplicity that
uses the cloud to manage the cloud.

How long has Boundary been in development for? What is
your mantra?

Boundary has been in
development for several years now, with the company being
officially funded and launched in 2011.  In order to build a
high-volume, low-latency platform that could process millions of
metrics per second, Boundary first tried typical big data with
NoSQL components such as Cassandra. While these
open-source elements were each good at a specific function, they
failed to meet the overall system goals at each step of the testing
process.

Essentially, Boundary needed to do what the rest of the industry
was trying to do with Hadoop and Cassandra but do it 1,000 to
10,000 times faster. Along the way, many of these innovations have
been posted to Boundary’s blog and
our GitHub,
including Scalang, Ordasity, and Folsom.

In short, Boundary’s vision is to enable IT organisations to
continuously collect, aggregate, & analyse all of their
real-time operations data in one place but also consume IT as a
service – and to make doing so inexpensive & easy with
cutting-edge, live visualisations, open APIs & seamless DevOps
integrations 

Can you give us a brief description of what Boundary
does?

Boundary provides a real-time, SaaS-based solution for
high-volume, high-resolution monitoring of cloud environments –
whether you run in the public cloud like Amazon EC2 or in your own private
enterprise data center. Boundary is designed for organisations
whose business depends on continuous, real-time operations. For
example, Boundary’s capabilities can help you quickly diagnose
network traffic spikes, server-to-server application traffic flow
issues, and bandwidth usage hotspots.

What does Boundary offer/do that other competitors
don’t? What are Boundary’s key features?

Unlike typical monitoring solutions found in the market today,
Boundary allows customers to monitor all their network and server
traffic at one-second granularity no matter where the
infrastructure is hosted – in the public cloud, in a private data
center, or in hybrid environments.  What’s more, it delivers
this as a service – so you’re up and running in minutes, without
the need for any expensive hardware probes, can visualise the data
through a browser in real-time, and pay just for what you need.
 

Boundary’s key features are: 

  • Real-Time Operational Monitoring
  • High-Volume Analysis
  • One-Second Granularity 
  • Seamless DevOps Integrations
  • Inexpensive Pricing 

Boundary was designed from the beginning to be multi-tenant, so
security and privacy are built directly into the architecture.
 Boundary’s server-instance resident meters are low impact and
can securely run in the cloud or in your data center.  Our
platform can scale out horizontally to support thousands of
customers and millions of metrics per second.  Scale,
security, and speed are thus fundamental tenets to our
approach.

You’re a big data veteran having worked extensively for
Amazon and Microsoft. How exciting is the field of big data at the
moment?

Bringing big data concepts to IT management will help push the
industry standard forward in monitoring. IT management has been a
fairly static market over the past 15 years; innovations in that
field have not matched broader tech innovations like cloud
computing and virtualisation that have fundamentally changed the
face of enterprise IT. 

We truly believe our solution can bring that disruptive change
to IT management; it challenges the fundamental assumptions of how
and what we can manage, and brings a real-time web operations model
to monitoring.  One of our core goals is to achieve the growth
potential for the Big Data platform – unlocking huge potential for
customers by transforming how to monitor public and private cloud
infrastructure.

You launched Boundary very recently. How exciting was it
to see the product finally come to fruition?

While it is very fulfilling to see the product and platform come
together, what is most fulfilling is to see customers using these
capabilities to solve problems they have never been able to solve
before.

In particularly, we’re getting great feedback on our monitoring
feature that gives DevOps one-second granularity into their network
and infrastructure.  As a customer, once you have this level
of detail, delivered simply and seamlessly, it is difficult to live
without it.

Boundary was built with DevOps engineers in mind. Do you
feel DevOps is the way forward for software
development?

Agile and DevOps methodologies have become essential parts of
software development and delivery today in companies big and small.
 The positive results most companies see tend to speak for
themselves, and creating a tighter relationship between the
development and operations teams has been a goal inside IT
organizations for years.  DevOps approaches make it easier to
achieve these goals and deliver more manageable products to market,
and faster.

We’ve seen tremendous interest in our open APIs and integrations
with DevOps tools such as Chef,
Puppet and Jenkins.  Customers tell us that
we are finally helping the “Ops” side of DevOps as the development
side to date has received the majority of focus from the
industry.

You seem to have assembled a strong team already. Plans
for expansion in the future?

First, we are very focused on and excited about our current Beta
and upcoming product release in Q1.  We have big plans for our
product in a variety of dimensions as well going forward, so look
for Boundary to continue to drive new features and capabilities out
to the market on a continuous basis.

What are the plans for Boundary in the future? Are you
going to gauge reaction for this release first?

Boundary has huge opportunities to expand its product along many
different dimensions, and we’re looking forward to working with our
customers to help guide us along the way.  With the rapid
growth of cloud computing and big data technology, the opportunity
to innovate and solve new problems while eliminating old ones is
wide open, and Boundary is up for the challenge. 

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