Seattle-based start-up ExtraHop Networks next week will unveil its flagship appliance that 10 beta customers put in place earlier this year to more quickly identify application performance problems across sophisticated, distributed networks.
The problem isn't new. Poor application performance challenges network teams to find the root cause of the slowdown before being able to fix the issue. In some cases, the network is to blame and in others the application could be flawed, but determining what needs to be fixed typically requires network managers to use several tools and consume too much staff time. That's why Jesse Rothstein, ExtraHop CEO, co-founded the company with fellow F5 Networks alumni and ExtraHop President Raja Mukerji: to develop technology that quickly identifies the source of the problem, ultimately reducing troubleshooting time and freeing up network staff for more important projects.
"The tools available today either provide a fire hose of data or only a small portion of targeted information," Rothstein says. "We wanted to help network and applications teams find the right haystack and then narrow down the search to find the needle causing the problem using one tool."
The ExtraHop Application Delivery Assurance system is software packaged as an appliance that connects to a span or network tap. It passively autodiscovers servers and devices connected to the network and inspects network traffic. The product is able to reassemble the path, or hops, an application takes across the distributed network. Such information helps when trying to determine where application performance started to degrade or failed outright. The product serves up performance, protocol and other data via a Web-based user interface, which allows network and applications teams to drill down by application, device, protocol or even errors to learn more about the problem.
"We perform full-stream reassembly down to transaction-level details that can tell network managers, for instance, that a database an application is using has too many connections and is causing performance to slow down," Mukerji explains. The product can also identify misconfigured switches, common application-tuning problem and problematic stored procedures on databases. "The appliance really focuses in on Layer 4 through 7 with some Layer 2 and 3 information, and it offers recommended fixes and application-tuning options," he says.
ExtraHop, founded in January 2007, officially launched the product and company in the midst of great economic uncertainty and during a time when many IT executives are looking to cut costs.
"The biggest challenge the company faces will be trying to prove the value of what they offer in a down market," says Jim Frey, a senior analyst with Enterprise Management Associates.