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By Robert L. Scheier

Users don’t much care about all the hops an application goes through from server to disk to external cloud to private cloud — they just want stuff to happen quickly. That’s why ExtraHop counts something like 60 competitors in the application performance management space.

The 100-person startup, co-founded by alumnus of performance management mainstay F5 Networks and boosted by $19 million in venture capital funding, thinks it can beat them all (and the legacy management vendors as well) with an approach it claims is dramatically less expensive, easier to install, and provides more in-depth information.

Its Application Delivery Assurance system takes a “network-based” approach to application management, sitting off-line as a physical or virtual appliance. It examines every network packet that has been jumbled out of order by the TCP/IP protocol over the network, reconstructs the stream, strips out the data relevant to performance monitoring and discards the rest.

Through a combination of behavioral analysis and identifying information contained within the data steam itself, ExtraHop can identify all physical and virtual network components (except for Fibre Channel SANs) so it reflects changes to the IT infrastructure continuously and without the use of high-maintenance agents.

“When we get packets off the wire, we put them back together. It you look at it packet by packet, you miss the big picture,” says Tanya Bragin, Senior Product Manager. “There’s lots of transactions among multiple packets.” Putting the packets back in order, and reconstructing the transaction among them, allows ExtraHop to understand which applications the packets relate to, and even descriptions of database errors that can slow performance, or what schema elements were accessed within the database.

One new feature ExtraHop touts are Application Inspection Triggers, which it says can be used to perform real-time analysis for scenarios such as security auditing to tracking how much traffic is coming from iPhones – or even different versions of the iOS operating system.  

Another use of triggers is tracking unauthorized reads of documents or folders stored on NAS. That’s of potential huge interest for security and audit professionals, although Bragin says security isn’t a key target market right now.

Rather than a full-fledged tool to remediate problems, ExtraHop serves as “the ultimate triaging tool,” says Director of Marketing Justin Baker. “We can alert you to any issue, and tell you exactly where to look” to find and fix the problem, he says.  And unlike competitors, he says, ExtraHop can deliver true 10Gbits per second of data to its analysis engine.

Pricing ranges upward of around $50,000, depending on the number of required appliances and their capabilities, which Baker says is as little as one-eighth that charged by its competitors. This is definitely a buy for medium to large companies with complex, dynamic environments such as Alaska Airlines.

ExtraHop is somewhat more suited for monitoring private than public clouds, says Bragin, especially since some public private cloud providers won’t let customers tap the network traffic ExtraHop requires. Within a customer’s own environment, though, its physical appliances can identify virtual machines and even monitor traffic among VMs on a physical host, which is often a blind spot for security and application management tools.

ExtraHop is still in growth mode, with about 100 customers, close to 100 employees and “growing close to 400 percent per year” with undisclosed revenues, said Baker. In-depth troubleshooting, ease of use, no agents to manage – and a low price – make ExtraHop worth watching if it can deliver on its promises.

Author: Bob Scheier
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I'm a veteran IT trade press reporter and editor with a passion for clear writing that explains how technology can help businesses. To learn more about my content marketing services, email bob@scheierassociates.com or call me at 508 725-7258.

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