Amazon Web Services veteran launches his startup, Boundary

Benjamin Black, Boundary co-founder and CEO

Boundary, a startup that aims to rethink network monitoring for the cloud, has raised $4.1M and officially launched. The San Francisco-based startup, founded by Amazon Web Services veteran, Benjamin Black, is launching today with the news of its funding (that was raised in January) and promises that the service will be generally available during the first quarter of 2012.
The 15-person company, which was formed in late 2010, raised the funding from LightSpeed Venture Partners and private investors associated with Amazon (s amzn), said Black. Boundary is rethinking network monitoring for distributed and federated cloud-based applications under the theory that in the cloud, the network becomes your IO and not knowing what’s happening there could kill your business.
“If you are not monitoring your network and the packets and bytes moving back and forth then you are not running your business effectively and missing out on numerous opportunities to operate things more efficiently and troubleshoot outages and identify outages,” Black says. “And all of that depends on high-resolution, real-time network monitoring.”
The service, which is hosted on Boundary’s own infrastructure (Black said he didn’t want to deal with the issue of figuring out new code and troubleshooting it for the AWS infrastructure at the same time) deploys agents on the customer instances that report back to the Boundary software.
The software consists of a real-time streaming engine that analyzes the network traffic every second and transmits the information to a dashboard. It’s possible to monitor the usual information about speed, ports and the route of a packet, but one can also measure other data such as the geographic locations of packets, which might be useful for detecting certain security threats.
It also has an API so folks can build applications that tap into the service that could be tailored for those who are not network engineers. For example, building a dashboard for a CFO that shows how much money is lost because of network lag times might help get the executive team behind a vendor or equipment switch. Another use case, might involve setting up an audit for ensuring traffic complies with national laws or industry certification standards.
Folks can install the service manually or have it load as part of a Puppet or Chef configuration. Each agent has its own credentials so it’s not bound to a VM. That means if an Amazon instance disappears for example, the agent can get certified as it pops up again on a fresh virtual machine. Most old-school network monitoring software requires the network to stay fairly static, something that doesn’t happen in a virtualized world.
Black notes that today the service only monitors the network and can’t take action, which would be the logical next step for a tool such as this. For now customers, and Boundary has a few already testing the service, will pay for each monitored server with the exact price being worked out during the beta period occurring between now and January.
In general Boundary is riding one of the next big shifts in IT as a result of virtualization — how the network will adapt. As the network becomes more dynamic and flexible, it will require new ways of monitoring it and controlling it. Boundary believes it can help solve the first problem with its software.