A representative of Lacuna Systems reached out to me after reading something I posted about another supplier offering an application performance monitoring (APM) product. This representative was convinced that Lacuna Systems had a better way to address the same set of issues. I, of course, said, "Tell me more." Here is a bit about the company, and how it believes it distinguishes itself from others.
What is Lacuna Systems?
Lacuna Systems was started in 2009 by a group of web operations specialists. They searched for a product that would allow IT operations folks to quickly detect and resolve application problems before workloads would slow down or fail. They didn't find anything on the market that addressed the problems they saw, and so, they got together to "do a show". They created a product called Indico.
What does Indico do?
Here's how Lacuna describes Indico:
Indico VM, Indico 1000, and Indico 2000 are purpose-built appliances that provide the easiest platform yet for monitoring web application performance. No matter what platform you choose, Indico is the only product that installs in 15 minutes and provides critical performance information immediately for every web application. It's a snap.
Indico uses native APIs to gather data from the load balancers already on your network. No need to change anything. Indico analyzes data patterns for every web application to actually predict potential performance issues. It harnesses the power of algorithms to baseline performance for every application metric as well as across metrics to detect any abnormality. This increases your visibility, and drastically reduces your mean-time-to-detect (MTTD) problems that can lead to website incidents.
Best of all, Indico is automated, and requires no care; no feeding. It just delivers your critical performance data, day in and day out, to ensure your crucial web applications are performing at their peak.
Does this read like the marketing materials offered by all of the other competitors? You bet!
Lacuna Systems' answer to "what's different about your product?"
I asked the company representative to help me understand what's different about Lacuna's products, and how it differentiates its offering from everyone else's. For those who are unfamiliar with the acronym "ADC", it means "Application Delivery Controller".
An ADC is technology meant to increase the availability and reliability of applications in a physical, virtual, or cloud-based application delivery network. It is meant to offer functions such as load balancing to web-based applications.
Here's the response I was given by Lacuna Systems:
So here are some points that Lacuna feels differentiates them from the rest of the APM space:
We have a unique set of data from the ADCs that nobody else has managed to tame
We do not require any care and feeding that other ADC solutions may require
We install in minutes and require no expensive professional services to install
We use ADCs that are already in the network to gather application performance data, there is no need for network modifications, switch SPAN ports, network TAPs, or any other equipment
We immediately and automatically detect new applications and start profiling performance on them with no user intervention required
We detect potential performance issues 20-30 minutes before other tools, allowing faster MTTD and MTTR
We provide actionable information about where the performance problem is happening providing granularity down to the server level.
Application performance is an increasingly difficult issue for companies to address.
Applications have gone from executing on a single mainframe to being a collection of services offered by a number of distributed servers. Each of these services may be offered by a number of servers, each located in the same or a different datacenter. The services might be supporting multiple applications as well. Just to make things more challenging, each of these services might be executing on a physical, virtual, or cloud-based server. As the level of complexity increased and as more systems were involved in any given task soared, the industry started calling them "workloads", rather than just applications.
What are APM suppliers doing?
APM suppliers have tried to select a specific computing solution and tried to apply special techniques in gathering, storing, and analyzing operational performance data. Some suppliers have focused on important back-end data processing. Others have focused on front-end customer experience management. Still others have focused on web application performance.
Different approaches to APM
Some suppliers require that software agents be installed on all of the systems supporting a given workload. Others work with the management interfaces offered by the systems, application frameworks, applications, database engines, storage, and network. Still others sift through all of the network traffic to sniff out what is happening. Some use all of the techniques to gather operational data.
Some conduct electronic triage to explain what happened. Others use big data, machine intelligence, pattern matching, and "predictive analytics" to find anomalies to warn IT operations before problems can occur.
Different ways to display the results
Some present the analysis of the data through printed reports. Others present the analysis in colorful graphical dashboards.
Where does Lacuna System fit?
Lacuna systems, like other APM suppliers, appears to be describing what its products do using the same language and catch phrases as all of the others. It appears that it's focusing on web application performance, not back-end database performance or end-user experience management as seen by someone accessing a workload from a smartphone or tablet.
Others, such as BMC, CA, IBM, Netuitive, Prelert, Zenoss, and a long list of others, appear to be offering technology that does something very similar.
The challenge that customers face is that all of these suppliers are doing something ever so slightly differently and are, typically, using the same language to describe what they're doing. This means that customers must gather marketing materials, white papers, and videos offered by as many as 15 or 20 different suppliers. Only then can the customer figure out what supplier or combination of suppliers can address their needs.