I spoke with Evolven's CEO, Sasha Gilenson, who spent a bit of time discussing his company and the importance of intelligent configuration and change management technology. When IT is organized into separate silos, it is quite possible that what appears to be a minor change made to support one application or application component can produce unintended consequences ranging from application performance problems to complete outages.
What is Evolven IT Operations Analytics?
Evolven is a tool that monitors environments periodically collecting information on environment content and configuration, looking for any changes since it executed the first collection scan. The collection could be done via local agents installed on the monitored servers or agentless, such as executing a dummy transaction on a transactional system or querying a database, to gather performance and operational data. The entire software stack is examined during these scans.
Evolven IT Operations Analytics uses several methods to identify changes that are suspicious. One of the methods is based on the company's knowledgebase, providing expert assessment of potential change impact and severity. Changes that may have potentially severe impact on environment are considered to be suspicious.
Another method is to use consistency analysis to identify changes that were not distributed equally to similar environments (e.g., when a change has been implemented on a single server in a cluster or a single cluster on a corporate network). The product also detects unauthorized changes and frequent changes. The goal is identifying changes that need to be investigated due to their potential risk.
Changes that are detected are categorized and reported to IT administration. A great deal of granular detail is available to assist the IT administrators and developers. Insignificant or minor changes are separated from risky ones. Everything is reported in an easy to understand dashboard.
Who is Evolven?
Evolven was founded seven years ago to address the complexities of tracking the configurations and interactions between and among all the different hardware and software components found in today's IT environment. The fact that the elements of today's systems might execute in a physical, virtual or cloud computing environment only increases the complexity IT faces.
Evolven says that it applies a new IT operations analytics approach to change and configuration challenges. The goal is to turn dynamic, overwhelming change and configuration data into actionable insights. The company states that using its solution allows IT operation managers to know exactly what has changed in their environments, investigate incident root-cause, maintain environment consistency, validate changes, and eliminate configuration drift.
There are many players in the market for monitoring tools for systems, networks, databases, applications, application frameworks, hypervisors and cloud frameworks. Each of them strongly believes that the answer to an organization's problems can be found in the area their product examines. Often they denigrate other products because they don't delve as deeply into their chosen area. Seldom do they really try to provide an overview making it possible for staff to find the root cause of a performance anomaly.
Evolven has chosen to focus on configuration and change management because many of today's performance problems and outages can be attributed to badly designed or implemented configuration changes. The chief problem the company faces is that they find themselves competing for market attention with just about every major systems supplier and management software supplier.
Gileson's comments, however, lead me to believe that the company has taken a pragmatic, user-focused approach to gathering, analyzing and presenting information that should be very useful to developers, administrators and operators.
I intend to see a demonstration and will comment on it later.