AppNeta: Real-time Management from the Cloud
Apparent Networks changes its name, and its CTO explains to me why he's sticking with Amazon cloud services even after last week.
Apparent Networks has been one of the companies taking advantage of enterprises' increasing need to have test and troubleshooting tools to try and get a handle on the performance of real-time traffic on their IP networks. At Enterprise Connect, our session on Network Test Tools has been growing in popularity, most likely because enterprise IP communications deployments are reaching critical mass, both in size and in complexity, and so tools that can diagnose the reasons for bad voice or video performance are becoming a requirement, rather than an option.
Apparent announced today that it's changing its name to AppNeta, as the focus shifts to enterprises' need for a view on performance that sees into the network devices, but also can troubleshoot end to end, up to the real-time applications themselves--hence App and Net-a.
I had a chance to talk with Matt Stevens, AppNeta's CTO, about the name change, the trends it reflects, and--perhaps most importantly--the company's shift in go-to-market strategy, which involves deploying small black-box "micro-pliances" to the customer sites to collect remote data, but powering the entire system out of the cloud--and not just any cloud, but the Amazon EC2 cloud, which Steven expressed confidence in despite last week's major outage.
Indeed, the transition to a totally cloud-based service is really the big news here. AppNeta will sell its service as either "public" or "private" cloud-based, but the distinction involves only where customers' performance data is stored; customers with high security concerns can store the data in their own datacenter instead of in AppNeta's own cloud. But in either iteration of the service, the AppNeta application that runs the performance monitoring function will run out of the AppNeta cloud; end users won't buy or deploy AppNeta's core application themselves.
The reason for this, according to Matt Stevens, is because AppNeta found that enterprise managers spend 30% to 40% of their time with a management tool just dealing with installation, patching, and other issues related to the tool itself--which of course is time that they can't be spending on actually dealing with the network and application management issues that the tool is meant to reveal to them. Matt likened the user experience to salesforce.com for sales people.
The only piece of hardware that's deployed with the customer is the aforementioned "micro-pliance," which Matt described as being the size of a BlackBerry or iPhone but twice as thick and resembling a power brick for a laptop. It can be plugged into any open LAN port; it self-registers to the AppNeta cloud and begins collecting data.
When Matt noted that AppNeta runs its service off the Amazon EC2 cloud, I had to ask if last week's major outage had given him pause, and he said it really hadn't. AppNeta's service did suffer some limited outage, but the company has built a pretty resilient architecture within the EC2 cloud, with redundant deployment in multiple "availability zones" within the physical EC2 infrastructure, so that even those areas that went down could be brought down gracefully, Matt said.
In the wake of the outage, AppNeta will continue to look at "multi-cloud" deployment, that is, deploying its application with additional cloud providers like Google, Terramark, or Azure. "It doesn't matter how good they are, I still don't want to have all my eggs in one basket forever," he said.
The renaming announcement was accompanied by an announcement that AppNeta had raised an additional $6.2 million in venture funding. Matt Stevens said AppNeta currently has 1,000 customers and 15,000 network paths under management.
You can get more information on Apparent/AppNeta and Matt Stevens' recommendations for best practices in real-time application deployment by tuning into this Enterprise Connect webinar, which was recorded last month.