Upstart Server Density sets sights on RightScale with new cloud management goodies

Cloud monitoring startup Server Density has big plans to take on RightScale in the multi-cloud management space.

The London-based company made its bones by offering customers — which include Electronic Arts(s ea), Intel(s intc) and The New York Times — an easy way to monitor their Amazon(s amzn) Web Services and Rackspace workloads. In that arena it competed with open-source tools like Nagios, Cacti and commercial offerings like Scoutapp and Cloudkick, which Rackspace purchased in 2009.

Now, it’s moving into the more rarefied air of multi-cloud monitoring services where RightScale, Santa Barbara, Calif. reigns as a big, entrenched competitor.


Server Density, which now has 13 employees, put Server Density v2 in private beta a few weeks back and will start rolling it our more broadly in coming weeks, co-founder and CEO David Mytton said.

RightScale has its vulnerabilities, in Mytton’s view, chief among them what he terms its “awful UI” and pricing that he says is more enterprise-y than you might expect for a cloud focused company. (For the record, RightScale offers a 60-day free trial and then pricing starts at $500 per month for one account with 5 users.)

Server Density monitors an unlimited number of servers for $10 per month and then will charge per server when the user enables additional capabilities.  Its route to market is bottoms-up — sysadmins sick of dealing with multiple cloud dashboards — from AWS and Rackspace —  typically use their credit cards to check out Server Density and its use often spreads to whole departments, Mytton said.

“We’ve spent the past year taking feedback from our existing monitoring customers and are adding cloud provisioning which is our first step into infrastructure management — we provide an abstraction layer for web and mobile that lets you control your Rackspace and Amazon instances without having to use those APIs,” he said.

Of course, RightScale isn’t standing still. The company builds and buys additional capabilities as needed.  And it works with lots of clouds including Google(s goog) Compute Engine in addition to AWS and Rackspace.

Server Density will also evaluate adding more clouds as it grows, but for now AWS and Rackspace are the two huge opportunities, Mytton said.

In some ways, this upstart and the company it seeks to unseat, also have to face the fact that the cloud providers themselves are adding more monitoring and management tools themselves. AWS Opsworks is an example.  Then the argument is that most  companies don’t want to lock into one cloud and will need a tool set to monitor and manage multiple cloud infrastructure providers.