This blog is just starting out, so here’s a post on why we build seafelt stuff.
Jim and I work as contractors/consultants in the IT industry. We both started out as Unix admins, did a stint as Network designers, and have ended up in Storage in the last couple of years. We’ve both spent a lot of time in large companies, some of them very large indeed. We’ve had to manage tens, or hundreds, of millions of dollars worth of kit, and we’ve seen how its done.
It’s easy to just palm it off as bad management, but the truth is, the tools out there to manage this stuff mostly aren’t very good. 10 years ago, when we first started work on what is now seafelt Performance Manager, they were worse. We were endlessly frustrated with not having the tools we needed to do our jobs. There were some tools out there (MRTG, Big Brother, a very basic Nagios), but they all had shortcomings that hit us really hard. We needed something better.
So we built it ourselves.
10 years later, the free tools have improved a lot. The expensive tools have stayed much the same. There’s still a massive gap in the middle, which is where seafelt comes in. Our tools have many of the features you won’t find in free software. In fact, our tools have features you won’t find in the high end software. Here’s why:
Best of Both Worlds
We’ve been able to learn from what the high end tools do, because we’ve used them in big companies for many years. We’ve learned about what they do well, and what they do badly. The biggest issue most of them have is that they’ve grown from legacy applications first developed 15 or more years ago. The core code is from a world where FrameRelay, mainframes and ESCON were all the rage. The code has grown hair, and is often monolithic, lethargic, and hard to change.
We’ve also learned from the low end tools. We’ve used MRTG, Nagios, Cacti, and many others, and we’ve seen what they do well, and what they do badly. These tools have often grown from a personal project inside a small IT department, and are great for that. They just scale poorly. Scaling up is hard, which is why Google employs so many smart people. There are new problems when you have 10,000 PCs in a datacentre that you just don’t have when you only have 200.
Firmly In The Middle
We don’t claim that our software is universally better than the high end stuff, though in some ways it is. We also don’t claim that our software is always suitable for really small shops, either, though it often is. Our stuff is really good in the middle, which is where most companies are. After we’d built our own tool, we looked around and thought “Wouldn’t it be great if all these small and medium sized companies could afford some great management software?”
If you’re reading this, your company is probably the kind of company we have in mind when we’re building our software. You don’t have millions of dollars to spend on software, but you’re a bit big to rely on the Perl scripts that your 3 sysadmins have built up in their spare time. You need a more professional product, but without the pricetag. You want support, but you know that your guys often know more about the product than the helpdesk people from the vendor.
Want More Details?
“Ok, this sounds good, sure,” I hear you saying, “but just how exactly is your software any different?” Stay tuned for more posts about some of the specific features of seafelt software that makes it so awesome. Can’t wait? Add a comment to this post and I’ll respond to your questions.