We all know software is now critical to how companies in most industries—from technology to autos to insurance—run their businesses. But what happens when that software stops working?
It’s a huge problem for enterprises today. Detecting, and fixing, software problems is becoming increasingly complicated. This is because of both new software-development processes, like “agile” development and the continuous delivery of new code, as well as new types of datacenter technologies and the manner in which they’re distributed. A modern enterprise today is likely deploying virtual machines and containers, for instance, instead of just static servers; using new types of databases and “service-oriented” applications; and of course, tapping cloud-based applications and technologies, in addition to traditional packaged software.
Simply put, this means there are a lot more places in a datacenter where things can go wrong, and it’s a lot harder to find these glitches. This is a thorny technology problem, and it’s led to a proliferation of IT monitoring tools to keep tabs on software up and down the infrastructure stack.
In the market today, there are specialized tools to monitor applications, servers, databases and front-end websites. Battery has made investments in companies serving many of these areas, including AppDynamics* (applications), Dataloop.IO* (servers), VividCortex* (databases) and Catchpoint* (website performance). There continues to be innovation in the monitoring category, particularly in areas like error tracking, log management, and advanced analytics. Last year, Battery invested in yet another monitoring company called BigPanda* that sells technology to consolidate and correlate monitoring data to accelerate the remediation process.
IT monitoring is now so entrenched and mission-critical at many enterprises that Adrian Cockcroft, a Battery technology fellow who previously worked as Netflix’s “cloud architect”, has described entertainment giant Netflix as “a monitoring company that happens to stream movies.” (See also this “MonitoringScape” graphic from BigPanda showing the breadth of companies operating in these areas—and a tweet from VividCortex’s CEO, below, on monitoring costs.)
But there is another side to IT monitoring that hasn’t been getting as much attention—the human side.
As the “MonitoringScape” graphic demonstrates, there are now plenty of tools out there for companies to use to monitor their infrastructure. While these technologies offer critical insights and raise much-needed alarm bells, they don’t specifically address the next step in this process: How the right developers and IT-operations personnel are notified about these problems, in a timely manner, so they can start to fix them. We are optimistic more companies will emerge to address this issue, and today announced an investment in one such company, OpsGenie.*
OpsGenie is focused on this issue of how organizations can get the right IT alerts to the right people in an “always on” IT environment. OpsGenie’s technology integrates with other monitoring and ticketing tools to serve as a central repository for alert data, and then routes the information to the appropriate person or team through collaboration apps like Slack and HipChat, text messages or phone calls—similar, in many ways, to the emergency messages doctors got on their pagers in the pre-smartphone era. OpsGenie can “escalate” a message to a developer or IT ops professional as well.
The technology is desperately needed by many of today’s IT departments, which are pushing out code faster than ever – occasionally multiple times per day, instead of once every few months. This means there’s more code being produced, and more chances for bad code that will need to be fixed later—usually by the same people who wrote it. This makes it even more important that these developers and IT Ops personnel (“DevOps”) have very targeted tools that can notify the right person when something goes down, to reduce system downtime.
Ultimately, internal IT has shifted from being mainly a cost center into a core function directly aligned with generating revenue at many companies; if an e-commerce website goes down, for instance, the glitch negatively impacts a company’s sales and bottom line. It’s clear that for any business dependent on software today, technology to 1) monitor online services, and 2) enable DevOps teams to fix problems has become essential, and will likely help those companies perform better in the marketplace.
*Denotes a current or former Battery portfolio company. For a full list of all Battery investments and exits, please click here.