Behind the Software Q&A with LogicMonitor CEO Kevin McGibben
Just because network stacks continue to get more complex doesn’t necessarily mean that the means to monitor them properly have to get just complicated. LogicMonitor operates on that principle, offering dynamic stack monitoring based on a simple Java-based application that can be installed on any device.
In this second part of our feature on LogicMonitor, we conducted a Q&A with LogicMonitor CEO Kevin McGibben to find out more about the company and what it’s setting out to do with the product. Be sure to check out our First Look demo preview of LogicMonitor as well.
How did LogicMonitor get started?
LOCATION: Santa Barbara, CA
CUSTOMERS: Appfolio, iVenture, Cedexis
Kevin McGibben: I’ll just go in and dive in here. There was a recent article on your own website about the cost of downtime, interestingly enough. It’s a good place to set the conversation because especially for middle-to-larger-sized businesses, the cost of IT downtime is increasingly accelerating.
The technology and infrastructure has become more complicated, and the number of staff to manage that infrastructure is actually thinning over time. There’s a definite trend that we see, and which many market prognosticators are continuing to see. Those responsible for IT operations are having to manage more with less. I think it makes a lot of sense when you look at products like LogicMonitor. It’s something that adds pretty significant value in a pretty well-established, albeit legacy, marketplace. That’s really what LogicMonitor’s all about.
If you look at our company history our founder, Steve Francis, actually built the technology infrastructure behind some pretty significant web-based organizations—firms like ExpertCity, which became Citrix and the research institutions at University of California—he was responsible for the data center infrastructure there. What he did was take his expertise working for those companies and applied it to a solution for a market that’s still very fragment and largely legacy based.
How large are you currently? How did you go about putting the team together?
We’re now up to over 60 employees. Santa Barbara is our headquarters, but we actually have an office in Austin which we’re scaling up, partly just to access the really solid tech community there. We also have a relationship with the computer science program at University of Texas. Finally, we have a wholly owned subsidiary in Chengdu, China, where we have the bulk of our engineering team.
The reason I mention that is because our cofounder and CTO, Jie Song, got his first master’s degree in Chengdu and is a Chinese national. He received his second degree at UC, which is how he ended up in Santa Barbara. Jie has a core group of folks he’s worked with for years and years in Chengdu, so we decided to put that group together as our core engineering team.
What does LogicMonitor do differently from comparable IT monitoring products?
One of the key differentiators is that we offer a wide breadth of monitoring capabilities in a pure SaaS deployment. It doesn’t matter where the technology lives. In addition to that, regardless of whether you’re deploying across a multi-cloud environment or your own data centers, it’s just as easy to deploy. You don’t need to understand the technical details of how to monitor an individual piece of technology in your stack, it’s included in our data source set.
We have about 350 data sources built into our platform off the shelf. You can point LogicMonitor at any IP within your infrastructure and we will identify what that device is and actually start collecting data, fetch the right protocol and start monitoring the performance characteristics of all the metrics that should be monitored on a best practice basis. That all comes with built-in thresholds and monitoring by default so that customers don’t have to go in and figure out how to monitoring something new.
Explain what a Collector is and how it works
That’s a good question. It’s an important distinction in terms of how we deploy the technology in our architecture. Most traditional monitoring solutions are agent-based solutions, meaning that you install agents on each and every machine that may be driving a particular application within your infrastructure. You’re dealing with lots and lots of agents that call back and report out on the performance of whatever they’re installed on.
With LogicMonitor we wanted to have a much more lightweight model, with the idea that it could be installed in a multi-tenant environment regardless of where the data center is located. What we did is create this lightweight Java program that doesn’t have to run on dedicated equipment, the Collector. It then reaches out to identified devices—via IP or DNS—and pulls back the performance monitoring data from all of those devices.
What’s a typical use case for LogicMonitor right now? Is it predominantly Managed Service Providers (MSP)?
The use case depends on the segment of customers you’re talking about. For example: fast-growing, web-based companies. Those companies use LogicMonitor to ensure that their online products are up and available. The service provider business—whether it’s an MSP or a cloud service provider—that use case is different in that they’re using LogicMonitor for their internal operations, many times to monitor customer-side equipment.
So if you’re an MSP offering what they call code-managed IT, we’re a great fit. You can put the product in the customer’s hand and add a ton of value through role-based access. If you’re a cloud service provider you can include LogicMonitor as part of your cloud product. If you’re an MSP with a stack of core equipment you should be using LogicMonitor so you can monitor everything within your infrastructure. So the architecture of our solutions is totally different than most all monitoring solutions out there. From there we just collect that performance data, encrypt it and send it to our data centers.
You guys are pretty transparent, comparatively speaking, about pricing. Compared to a lot of other IT monitoring solutions out there you seem to be drawing a lot from more consumerized B2B software segments.
We see that the way companies are buying technology is changing. Even enterprises are starting to consumerize that purchase acquisition technology process. You have to be more transparent, though that doesn’t mean you have to share everything.
Sure, we provide some information on our website to provide some guideposts for some folks. But we have many, many clients who fall outside of those parameters. They will come to us if they’re an enterprise or MSP with the expectation of a business model that works for their kind of infrastructure as well. We understand that. We’re not unrealistic. We certainly are pragmatists, but at the same time we try to share enough information to not push people away.
One of the buzzwords in IT management these days is turning IT cost savings center. Do you think that LogicMonitor can help meet that kind of objective?>
Absolutely. It’s not uncommon for us to help companies consolidate their monitoring tools from several down to one. By deploying us they can change their business model so that they’re no longer beholden to annual license fees with us. They don’t have to put in any capital expenditure (CAPEX)—it’s all operational expenditure (OpEx).
So there’s no dedicated server to utilize. There’s no major upfront license fee. There’s no annual maintenance fee. With our easier-to-deploy model it’s basically pay-for-what-you-use in the time that you use it, and it’s on an evergreen basis. It’s pure OpEx from an economic standpoint. A lot of the time it makes a lot more financial sense. It’s especially true for companies either looking to displace a legacy business model-type of solution, or companies who’re making an investment in monitoring for the first time.
I think it’s much easier to stomach our business model, and we certainly provide value in that sense, just from a pure economic standpoint. Not to mention the many business benefits they derive by having visibility, performance trending and learning on their infrastructure and how that may impact their business.
If you’re still looking for additional information on some of the other IT management systems out there, try checking out our exclusive Top 10 IT Infrastructure Monitoring Software report. Additionally, pay a visit to the Business-Software.com IT management resource page, the hub for IT management content from us and our network guest contributors.