ScaleXtreme

Systems management from the cloud

Category Archives: Uncategorized

New Stuff: Dashboard, Wall, Platform Support, Monitoring Updates and More!

We’ve been busy here developing new features and improving on what we’ve got, so wanted to send out a quick announcement on some new changes we rolled out last night. And good news for all our users out there – no software updates needed since we’re a cloud-based product (not trying to make customers of on-premise software jealous, but still …)! So without more fanfare, here we go:

Improved Platform Support

Today we rolled out additional support for more server operating systems. I think with this update, we support the broadest set of Linux and Windows platforms out there. A full list of where ScaleXtreme’s agents now work on is:

Windows:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 2003
  • Windows 2008 – just released

Linux:

  • RedHat
  • Fedora
  • CentOS 4.4+
  • Debian 5+ (32 Bit)
  • Ubuntu 7+ (32 Bit)  – just released

New Dashboard

We just added a whole new set of information to the Dashboard, which is where you land when you login to your account. This includes machine information, recent jobs that have run on different machines (so you can go and view output from any completed jobs).

And since our product is “social” we couldn’t resist adding a cool new feature – The Wall. Let’s say you just changed something on a particular machine or want to make sure everyone knows about some task that you just completed. While you can send email to everyone, you can also just type in a quick message on the “Wall” and everyone will see this when they login again. Pretty cool J

Monitoring

We’ve improved the look and feel of the monitoring graphs – check out the new colors and layout for CPU, Memory, Network, Disk, and Processes.

Lastly, without giving too much away, we’re also planning some exciting new functionality in the next few weeks that will make using ScaleXtreme even more exciting. Stay tuned!

 

 

Good press coverage of ScaleXtreme Early Access announcement

On the back of our announcement of opening for early access – May. 25, 2011 – ScaleXtreme Announces Early Access Program – our public free beta program – there was good coverage across IT and business press. Some examples below:
Derrick Harris of GigaOM covered the story ( May. 26, 2011 – ScaleXtreme Opens for Early Access), which was then picked up by both CNN Money (May. 26, 2011 – ScaleXtreme Opens for Early Access) and the New York Times (May. 26, 2011 – ScaleXtreme Opens for Early Access)
Kurt Marko of InformationWeek wrote an intereting angle at May. 26, 2011 – Using The Cloud To Manage The Cloud
Martin Tantow of Cloud Times conducted an interview with our CEO, on the announcement – May. 25, 2011 – ScaleXtreme announces Early Access program – Interview with CEO Nand Mulchandani
Other coverage included:
Thanks all for the coverage – we’re glad it’s relevant to your readers.

ScaleXtreme opens for Early Access

We’re thrilled to announce early access to our cloud-based systems management product. We’re now offering one of the first completely hosted systems management products that is capable of managing your servers, regardless of location (private cloud, public cloud) or type of machine (physical or virtual).

What makes ScaleXtreme dramatically different from anything you’ve used before is:

– Installs in just a few minutes, no consultants required – unlike the older generation of products from the “big 4” vendors like BMC, IBM, CA, or HP, our products can install in minutes and we even have auto-installers for Amazon EC2, Rackspace. You can get 100’s of machines installed in under 5 minutes. Unlike other heavy-duty enterprise software companies that make tons of money off of “consulting services”, our products are for IT operations and admins to use and deploy themselves. It is that simple.

– Full support for Linux and Windows – yes, our Windows support is real and not in “beta”. We give you equal support for both operating environments and in many cases you can even pull off operations between both systems through the same interface.

– Full support for private and public cloud machines – even though we’re hosted in the cloud, we can manage your internal machines without any changes to your firewall. And of course, we can also manage your public cloud machines, regardless of who your hosting provider is or what virtualization platform they might be using. As long as your machine is running a supported Linux or Windows operating system, we can manage it.

– App Store – we’re launching one of the first “app stores” for scripts, that allows you to grab and upload your own scripts to a common store in the cloud. We have a super integrated experience that allows you to take something from the app store and it shows up right in the product – no downloads, uploads, or messy handling of files. It’s all automatic and integrated.

– “Live” management – most products for systems management are old-style batch mode products. These products don’t give you live access to your systems so you can diagnose or solve problems live. Who has time to write up “models” and “recipes” before you do anything? Our system is fully capable of allowing you to manage multiple machines through our unique “one to many” operation support, giving you the best of both worlds – live access with a multiplier effect for management.

We’ve obviously got tons of other things that you can do with the product – monitoring, automation, script management – and we encourage you to setup a free account and try it out yourself here.

ScaleXtreme working on server management from the cloud

Server management has traditionally been the domain of several large on-site application vendors. However, servers are now being rolled out much faster than systems admins are being hired, and they’re in the cloud – public cloud, private cloud or a hybrid thereof. Unsurprisingly,  server management scales with demand for servers, yet the rate of systems admin hiring has not grown accordingly.  Equally, many of the server management vendors have simply not kept up.  So sys-admins are finding that they need to be more flexible, provisioning servers across multiple systems, with fewer resources.

ScaleXtreme addresses these issues by taking a very different approach: we provide systems and server management, from the cloud. All servers under management using ScaleXtreme – whether they are physical servers on-site behind a firewall, dedicated servers at a hosting partner such as Rackspace, virtual servers in a datacenter, and even cloud servers at Amazon EC2 – can all be managed from a single system. This console, hosted in the cloud, is therefore available anytime, anywhere, from any device with a browser. We will be releasing an Early Access version of the service in May – stay tuned.

451 Group coverage of ScaleXtreme

William Fellows, co-founder of The 451 Group, recently did a writeup on Scalextreme. Link to the report ishere (subscription required) — gives a great summary of what we’re up to. Can’t give too much of the report away but the core idea of being able to address servers that have had no management whatsoever is one of the core ideas behind what we’re working on.

Presenting at Under The Radar on April 28

We’re going to be doing one our first “public” presentations of our company and product at Under The Radar on April 28 in Mountain View. You can get more details about the conference at Under The Radar. Our specific section is listed at Infrastructure gets efficient: Announcing our 4th Group of Startups with a nice quote from us: “The number of systems IT admins manage is growing exponentially, especially as virtualization and public cloud providers make it easy to create more machines. Systems management andautomation is key to keeping your head above water,” says NandMulchandani from ScaleXtreme. Couldn’t agree more!

Having been to the conference in the past couple of years, it’s always great to see all the cool companies in your space in a single location and to get to meet the founders and teams in-person. See you there.

Simple Ain’t Easy

No one starts out designing a complicated product. But when sales and marketing become involved, enterprise software can often mutate from a simple tool into a massive, feature-packed platform. Unfortunately, over engineering and a lack of focus are synonymous with enterprise IT.

In the enterprise IT management and administration world, most commercial solutions are brought in to replace homegrown scripts and systems. It’s like buying a car to replace a handmade wagon. Sounds like a great improvement, but it comes with a downside. At purchase time, there is already a laundry list of chores any new software package will be expected to handle. Custom-made systems are built specifically for their environment and commercial software can’t anticipate every possible individual usage. You could use a new Mercedes to haul fresh-cut hay from the field, but it’s hardly the right tool for the task.

How can any static, unchanging software be expected to adapt to handle every imaginable environment? The answer so far has been massive consulting and customization projects, coupled with retraining the users to mold themselves to the new system. Think of it as going to a never-ending driver’s ed class.

Then there’s the problem of software sales. In many industries, the engineers come up with a concept, build it and then turn it over to the sales team to put it into buyers’ hands. Yet, for some reason, building software for big corporations often goes in reverse: the sales team finds a customer and then turns it over to the engineers to build.

By trying to appease every customer need, the process of creating great software is often compromised. In fact, it’s one of the biggest reasons enterprise software sucks, as this great post points out. Just imagine if we built cars by taking customer orders and trying to package them into a single vehicle: “The customer wants to go zero to 60 in three seconds, have space for his four kids, go off-roading and get 100 miles per gallon. We can build that, right?”

Or, to paraphrase one blogger: The arms race for features is over. Everybody won. Anything is possible. If you can imagine it, you can have it. Meanwhile, the user has been carpet-bombed with features.

And the bigger the sale, the more likely a new feature will be crammed into the product just in time to seal the deal. That means enterprise software packages are evolving to meet the demands of the biggest customers, and questionably useful “features” accrue quickly. Greater complexity increases the possibility of errors, because no one really understands all the interacting parts of the whole or has the ability to test them. Worse still, the end users aren’t even involved in the purchase process: their managers are trusted to pick the right tools, after they’ve been plied with conference schwag and fancy dinners.

These are big problems in the gigantic enterprise software business. Several thought leaders and companies are trying to beat these issues, fix the broken system and develop a new generation of easy-to-use programs for a range of applications.

Yet no subset of the enterprise software market is as ready for change as datacenter automation and systems management. Software suites have not addressed the need to simplify the process of working with servers. Most sysadmins still rely on homegrown automation (scripts) or just plain “hand-to-hand combat” involving manual changes.

We talk with customers all the time about the automation of their routine basic IT tasks. Increasingly, the worth of a systems administrator is measured by how much of the job he or she has automated. Automation and simplification should be the backbone of any systems management service yet that’s not what we see. This deficit is due to a few serious problems in existing enterprise IT solutions:

  • Automation products are way too complicated and expensive to deploy. Software makers stuff far too many features into their offerings. The time they are supposed to save gets completely wiped out by the effort it takes to install them.
  • Deployment costs are also a significant impediment to using these products. Inexpensive products, such as open-source software, are also often complicated and difficult to use. Sysadmins may even have to learn a new programming language just to get them working. While avoiding a licensing fee may seem like a deal, at the beginning, the pain of working with it over time doesn’t justify skimping. Customers may be tempted by a low price tag when they buy, but have to live with the ongoing costs of maintaining the system.
  • Any type of automation software requires the re-engineering of processes and approaches just to get the tools to work.

We want to create a systems management tool you can boot up, jack into and start using immediately. We’re focusing on the Law of the Vital Few to build it. We know that there are a handful of operations and functions that most people need and can use to drastically improve their productivity. It’s like Gartner says: simplicity focuses on the relevance of features instead of an absence of features.

Customers are beginning to demand that the software they buy be easy to install, require only basic upgrades and need only minimal user training. Our goal is to focus on the most important and essential automation tasks and make those simple, fast, and inexpensive instead of trying to solve every conceivable problem with a single product. We want to make simple tasks easy.

Today, software has to be more than just easy to use. It also has to be easy to try and to buy. Sure, everybody offers the classic 30-day trial, but setting that up typically requires preparation and a fresh environment in which to work. For example, testing out a security-auditing tool could require a would-be buyer to set up a specific Oracle database and go through all those steps just to see if what if it will work.

But you can try out cloud software in seconds and only need an Internet connection to take it for a test drive. No meetings, special sandboxes to set up, or salespeople to listen to. Boot up, jack in and start using.

To compete in today’s market, systems management and datacenter automation products must be both easier to use and easier to try. We’re going to put the sysadmin in the drivers seat. So if you want your software to take you further, start working faster and make easy jobs simple, sign up to take an early test drive of our product.

ScaleXtreme: The Salesforce.com of Systems Management?

Thanks to Derrick Harris (GigaOm) for a great article about our mission, and especially like the comparison to SalesForce.com 🙂

ScaleXtreme: The Salesforce.com of Systems Management?

In particular Derrick highlighted one of the most crucial parts of our story, which is the focus on the social aspects of managing systems in this new world. I’ve always been amazed that in delivering a brand new product through the internet why more companies don’t rethink the way they build their products to take advantage of the best things that their platform gives them? Hopefully more on that soon …

TechCrunch covers ScaleXtreme!

Many thanks Erick Schonfeld and the team at TechCrunch for the great writeup on what we’re up to:

Accel-Backed ScaleXtreme Takes Data Center Management To The Cloud

I think the article hits on the core difference in what we’re trying to accomplish – “Replace million-dollar deployments that take months with a five minute download that can have a machine being managed from the cloud in five minutes.”

We hope to deliver on this vision. If you’re interested in trying out the product (of course, an early version) just sign up on our website for updates and we’ll send over a login when we’re ready to open things up for early access.

Thanks!

Introducing ScaleXtreme

Enterprise IT infrastructure management is due for a change. Around the world, social computing and elegantly simple software have combined to revolutionize consumer products. Yet enterprise IT still relies on plodding, hugely over-priced solutions. It’s no wonder most sysadmins rely on their own tools or manual processes to manage their systems – whether those are physical machines, machines sitting in their private clouds on VMware, or even machines sitting in public cloud systems like Amazon EC2 or Rackspace.

Technology analysts peg worldwide annual sales of systems management and datacenter automation software at over $14 billion. Most of the sector remains largely dependent on traditional enterprise IT solutions – solutions that require systems administrators and their host enterprises to deploy large, complicated software stacks. Then it’s time for everyone to learn new languages and configuration processes just to get older, previously working applications redeployed after this “transformation”.

There is almost every form of product available in this market. The high-end has a handful of players; analysts have even taken to calling them the “Big 4” – Computer Associates, BMC, IBM, and HP.  Open-source providers such as Puppet Labs and Opscode sit at the other end of the spectrum and are trying to own the open-source charge. And in the middle, there is the Microsoft Systems Management Server and InTune, focused on Windows as a specific platform to be managed.

Every one of these products is still a big software package that is complicated to deploy. Between software deployment consultants, training, new infrastructure (databases, etc.), new languages and new processes, deploying this software to manage even a small number of servers is a huge and complicated task. Here are some other specific things that you’re probably aware of when you’re dealing with these solutions:

  • Expensive: If you have ever tried to work through a sales cycle with one of the traditional vendors in this space, the biggest shock you will get will be how much their stuff will cost you. At anywhere from $1,000 to $15,000 per server plus a 25% maintenance fee, you’re paying a lot of money. How can you justify the costs for this software as you spin up multiple virtual machines on your VMware datacenter or pay by the hour over at Amazon EC2?
  • Difficult to Deploy: The next shock you get working with an incumbent in this market is how complicated it is to deploy these products on your infrastructure. Remember, each of the vendors in this space makes a lot of its revenue from implementation services. And the open-source software vendors make all of their money this way. Once you pay them for the licenses you will most probably end up with an army of consultants working to “re-engineer” your processes to match their product, or “customize” their product to match your processes. You’re stuck either way you go.
  • Inflexible: Customers are increasingly running a diverse set of infrastructure—old physical machines, private-clouds running on VMware, public-cloud machines on Amazon EC2 and Rackspace, etc. Each one of the existing software suites is trying to retrofit these new systems into their creaky old framework. With so many customers are starting to re-think the way they use compute cycles. Why be stuck with an old, on-premise model of management that haphazardly bolts on these new pockets of compute power? Instead, they might prefer to go with a clean slate, something designed from the ground-up to address the current state of computing.
  • Anywhere Access: Sitting at a bar and trying to figure out what is going on with your IT systems? Hanging out with your iPad on the couch? Don’t hold your breath waiting for one of the “Big 4” systems to give you access to your systems anytime and anywhere you want them.

We could go on and on about the problems with existing solutions, but we often find that customers have their own long list of gripes. We feel that the old model is broken, and that there has to be a better way to help people manage their systems.

At ScaleXtreme, we’re working on something better. Since we’re not announcing our specific product just yet, we’d like to share some core principles that are guiding our product design:

  • Simple: Our goal is to make something that ordinary IT administrators can deploy and run in a few minutes. That will be a big improvement on the complicated product model forced onto customers that requires an over-the-top learning curve. Most customers actually have little or no real automation deployed to help manage their systems, primarily due to the cost and complexity of deploying these solutions. We’d like to help these folks.
  • Scalable: We are a cloud-based system, and we’re designing our system to handle a single server or hundreds of thousands. If you’ve ever had to hire an IT pro just to manage the database of your systems management product, you might appreciate this. But being scalable goes beyond just being in the cloud. We will support a surprising number of platforms. Our service will tackle the most heterogeneous and complicated enterprise IT systems out there. And you can buy as many licenses as you need right from our website, whether that’s one, one hundred, or one thousand. We aim to serve everyone from the smallest startup companies to the largest multi-national corporations.
  • Social: Building in the cloud from the beginning allows us to bring the best of collaboration and content to systems management in a way that hasn’t been done before. Systems management, just like any other task in large enterprises, is a team effort. It is surprising how “un-social” most products in this space have been, especially when it comes to leveraging the knowledge and community available on the internet, and not integrating this directly into their products. We’re excited about this topic and will write more about it in future blog posts.

Thank you for all the positive feedback and support so far. If you are interested in being part of our early-access program, please sign up on our website and we’ll try our best to accommodate you. We look forward to delivering a great product to market that will make a difference in the scalable management of systems out there, wherever they may be.