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VMworld 2008 Vegas: Chris Neal, BlueStripe CEO interviewed

I spoke to Chris a few days back and we were able to set up an interview quickly. BlueStripe software caught my attention as I am a sucker for applications. My heart bleeds for a suffering app, maybe its because I come from the middleware world (one of the worlds of my several worlds).

BlueStripe does an excellent job in identifying the application landscape and bottlenecks and complex dependencies. So very crucial and so painfully forgotten in the virtualization madness. We will be testing this product very soon in our projects!

Please tell us a bit about yourself?

The founders of BlueStripe Software, Chris Neal, Vic Nyman, John Bley and John Whittington, have had the pleasure of working together previously and sought to learn what critical challenge was facing application owners and IT leaders. We undertook a lengthy research project, interviewing 50 to 60 industry leaders and found a compelling need to deliver a better way to manage their applications.

It’s intuitive -- if you’re running any business, you care about the applications that run your business and how it’s performing.

Customers told us application owners were concerned about moving their business applications onto virtual machines, and while they know they need to do all they can to realize the benefits of virtualizing, they required more insight and intelligence about what was affecting their applications.

What does BlueStripe do? Why did you feel the need to start it up?

Once we identified the market need and the problems we were solving, we got excited about the fit with our expertise of managing applications. The team is seasoned through experiences at IBM Network and Systems management, Wily Technology, Relicore, Sun, and more. This background, with very successful companies, allowed us to approach building a solution and a company in the right way.

We knew we could fulfill a market need with a cost-effective solution that delivers immediate value to a broad range of users. This would allow us to build a company based on great values, integrity, honesty, valuing customer input, while creating value to our employees, their families, our investors, and most importantly, our customers.

Can you tell us about your products?

Our mission is to change the way companies manage applications by enabling IT departments to see exactly what was affecting their applications, in both physical and virtual environments. We understood the need to look at the service level, not just monitor things like CPU capacity or packet flow and approximating performance, but delivering a level of detail and intelligence unmatched in the industry.

We delivered the industry’s first application service management (ASM) solution for virtualized data center environments. Our product, FactFinder, is the industry’s only solution to enable enterprises to stage, deploy, and manage business-critical applications in virtual data center environments with the same degree of confidence and control as traditional environments.

FactFinder gives IT departments the visibility required to efficiently manage application performance and availability -- for both physical and virtual environments -- for a thorough understanding of their applications and their interdependencies. This allows application performance issues to be resolved quickly between different business and IT management groups -- an area of growing internal conflict at many companies.

This, we feel, will greatly increase application owners’ confidence in moving ahead with P2V conversions for critical business applications.

Facts are what organizations need: application readiness and migration-awareness. How does FactFinder help an organization with that?

FactFinder discovers all the connections and dependencies of an application and follows the application wherever it goes, hop-by-hop, at the service process level. That way, we can provide a view that both business application owners and IT support staff can relate to. It also identifies critical issues affecting the application and highlights potential bottlenecks issues can be quickly resolved.

FactFinder bridges the visibility gap between business-critical applications and the virtualized servers on which they run by monitoring transaction-level processes throughout the data center. It creates a real-time map of the application ecosystem and ensures that everyone is working off the same model.

It gives application owner and infrastructure support teams a common language for identifying and resolving application performance issues. The result is that leading companies adopting virtualization can accelerate P2V projects, expand and unblock stalled VM rollouts, and streamline application support processes on new VM platforms.

FactFinder helps both application owners and infrastructure support teams to diagnose application performance problems by asking, “Where is my application?,” and not just “What is affecting its performance?”

Other management software is unequipped to provide this view. Most approaches manage VMs they same way they manage actual machines. The fact is when applications become abstracted from the physical machines running them -- as they do in a virtualized environment -- these traditional management methods break down.

Will products and analytical tools like yours help in further adoption of emerging technologies such as Virtualization and Cloud Computing?

Absolutely. The more comfortable business application owners are when they begin the P2V process, the better. With FactFinder now on the market, you’ll start to see a whole new adoption curve, in terms of virtualization projects as they relate to applications. Complex n-tier apps, Web applications, and integrated transactional apps are all next.

Cloud computing is a logical extension of these higher-tier applications systems. If you can increase your service availability and put processes in place to ensure their quality, then you’re that much closer to realizing an efficient, manageable cloud computing or service-oriented architecture.

How are the products priced?

The pricing for FactFinder is very reasonable. Our goal is to seed the market and provide a flashlight that IT organizations can use to see their applications -- wherever they reside. Pricing is based on the number of physical servers, so it is scalable to meet the needs of small organizations and departments.

FactFinder can be deployed starting at around $5,000, with a typical deployment around $20,000. This first version focuses on Microsoft applications running on VMware platforms, though other applications, flavors of virtualization, and things like network-attached storage are set for upcoming releases.

Are you showing FactFinder at VMworld 2008?

Yes, we’ll be in booth #347, showing FactFinder for the first time publicly..

What are your plans for EMEA and APAC?

We are already in progress for opening up our EMEA and APAC sales channels. In parallel, we have had many EMEA and APAC customers coming to us directly. FactFinder is available now for worldwide distribution.


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