Coolan lets companies pool and analyze hardware data

A common dilemma facing many companies that have a ton of gear in their data centers is having to figure out which hardware appliance is causing bottlenecks that may cause downtime and customer outrage. Coolan, a startup formed by former Facebook and Google engineers, aims to solve this problem and is exiting stealth with a new product that gathers together infrastructure data from multiple companies, which it then analyzes to unearth how all their gear is performing.

That strength-by-numbers approach separates Coolan from other IT monitoring services out there that companies plug into their data centers to discover how efficient (or not) their infrastructure really is so they can spot problems before they turn to something bigger.

Although these IT monitoring services essentially study the infrastructure of one company, Coolan’s software platform allows other entities to share their infrastructure data with each other in the hopes that, with more data available, organizations can put an end to unnecessary server failures and the like.

“[Organizations] are all curious about solving this problem, but they have a limited data set,” said Coolan co-founder and CEO Amir Michael. “By bringing the industry together you get a larger data set.”

Screenshot of failure rate

Screenshot of failure rate

Michael was a a hardware engineer at [company]Google[/company] and then a Facebook engineer and manager of the company’s hardware design. At [company]Facebook[/company], Michael’s contributions led to the creation of the Open Compute Project, where he is is still an active participant as vice-chair of the project’s Incubation Committee, responsible for reviewing new specifications.

The open compute project did a good job of getting people to talk about servers and design concepts from a hardware level, Michael said. However, when it comes to operations and getting the most out of hardware, there’s not a lot of information available to the general public on the actual performance metrics of individual pieces of hardware.

“We all want more transparency around our hardware,” Michael said.

The idea is for companies big and small, with 100 servers or 1,000 servers, to all benefit from the insights gleaned from the same big data set. Companies will have to install software (three lines of code, apparently) onto their fleet of servers, which will allow for infrastructure data to flow over to Coolan’s own servers, stored in Amazon S3.

Screenshot of notification report

Screenshot of notification report

Michael seemed aware of the irony that his startup that specializes in hardware-performance metrics operates in the cloud, but he said that “we will eat our own dog food and be running our own servers” once it reaches a certain size.

Coolan will not be syphoning the type of software-related data that New Relic or AppDynamics need for their analytics purposes, but rather hardware data, like the name of a device manufacturer, the temperature of the hardware when running, the model number of an appliance, when the device started generating errors, and so on.

From all this data, Coolan’s team can run machine-learning algorithms to learn how the hardware stacks up and which devices have a higher chance of failure. If a bunch of companies that contribute to Coolan all find that a fan in a particular manufacturer’s device cracks out at the two-year mark, then users who recently purchased that device will now have some warning that their devices might not function properly down the road.

Coolan CEO Amir Michael

Coolan CEO Amir Michael

Coolan’s not ready to disclose who its pilot customers are, but Michael did say that a number of the company’s clients are organizations that started out in the cloud and are now moving off of it to build their own data centers.

The startup could one day have a tool that also monitors a company’s cloud infrastructure, but Michael said that’s “not the primary focus right now.” Coolan is also still figuring out its pricing model, but its main goal as of now is to simply get more companies on board to “get more data.”

“I think part of it is in my DNA,” said Michael in reference to how his days at Facebook could have made him more open to the idea of sharing and collaborative projects. Facebook recently launched a collaborative threat-detection framework that seems similar to Coolan except instead of hardware data, companies are dumping into a central hub security data.

The six-person team at Coolan is not disclosing how much funding it has raised so far, but it closed a seed round in February led by Social + Capital, North Bridge Venture Partners and Keshif Ventures.

ScienceLogic lands $43M to monitor the hybrid cloud

IT monitoring-specialist ScienceLogic just landed $43 million in a Series D funding round, which will give it more resources as it continues to advocate for the hybrid cloud. The startup now has $84 million in total investment.

ScienceLogic is banking on the growth of companies adopting a hybrid-cloud strategy, which means that they have both on-premise infrastructure that works in conjunction with outside cloud providers, explained ScienceLogic CEO Dave Link.

While companies may have monitoring tools available for their existing infrastructure that can scan log files and spot problems in the data center, when it comes to seeing the big picture of how their infrastructure connects with what they may have running in the cloud, there’s not a lot out there to give them that holistic view, Link explained.

ScienceLogic has a console that can supposedly connect via APIs to the different monitoring tools provided by public-cloud providers like Amazon’s CloudWatch. It can siphon that data from the CloudWatch monitoring tool and then correlate it with the data its own CloudMapper tool is spooling from a company’s on-premise infrastructure and then “intelligently map out these relationships” between the two environments, said Link.

“You understand the relationships,” said ScienceLogic CEO Dave Link. “You can correlate the events and get a clear indicator on what is the root cause of the application being slow or the system [not] being responsive.”

cloudmapper-aws

Link said his company currently competes “day in and day out” with the big legacy companies like HP and CA as well as with the open-source Nagios IT-monitoring tool. When it comes to Nagios, Links claimed that what sets apart the open-source tool from ScienceLogic is that it doesn’t scale well unless an organization has the engineering resources available to tend to the product, which can end up costing a lot of cash.

“There is just so much variability that makes it hard for IT to get a single product that gives them a line of sight across the hardware, hypervisor, and the application layer,” Link said.

Goldman Sachs led the investment round, which also included existing investors NEA and Intel Capital.