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

Chris Mayer

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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