Boundary, the application monitoring company that promises super-quick implementation time announced a bunch of new capabilities that it is hoping will see it increase uptake for its offering. Included in this release is an interesting new tool that creates visual representations of application topology and tracks changes in real time – think of it as being analogous to those cool computer simulations when watching golf or yachting on TV. Boundary is hoping to do more than just pretty things up – it’s stated aim is to stop application managers from having a mental model of the way an application stack is built, but rather to have a visual representation of that stack. The premise being that with modern cloud applications, DevOps teams are finding it ever more difficult to monitor and maintain their distributed (and complex) applications.
Boundary sells itself as being able to deliver monitoring for dynamic environments of varying types – it does so by creating the real time topology and monitoring packet flow to and from all the different tiers of the application stack. This real time and real world topology map also allows them to deliver metrics around latency between the different tiers of an application, meaning that developers can fine-tune their applications, and application stacks, for the best possible performance.
Some new functionality that Boundary has announced includes:
- Pre-defined integration for both EC2 and Rackspace Cloud where any status or alerts from those Cloud providers can be annotated into the Boundary data
- A universal RSS integration capability enabling any RSS status or alert to be annotated into the Boundary data. This capability is available today to integrate alerts from New Relic, Splunk, Papertrail and others
- A big data store that will enable customers to define longer periods of historical data that they wish to keep
- A full function, free version of the Boundary solution
This last point is kind of interesting, foregoing the usual freemium approach, Boundary is releasing a free option that has complete functional parity with the paid version. The only restriction on the free version is limitations in terms of incoming data quantity and historical data store.
There’s no question that applications, and application stack topologies, are getting more complex as applications are delivered in a modular and scalable way. Given this, services which give a real time insight into performance across different levels of the application stack are compelling propositions. Add to this the fact that Boundary creates a visual and real time representation of the topology and you have a solution that not only provides real value, but also does in a way that appeals to those DevOps practitioners that like a War Games like real time display on a big screen in the corner somewhere.
I’m not a huge fan of freemium, especially for these sorts of deeply integrated services where there is as much hassle (read cost) in setting the service up as there is cost in running it on an ongoing basis – by my mind, the key way for Boundary to on-board customers is to ease the integration pain and really showcase the functionality of the product to anyone passing by. The Boundary product is visually appealing, fills a valid pain point, and delivers real value for customers – far better to articulate that, than to go for the lowest cost message…..