“This is all about having your data in a single place. You login one time, go to one dashboard, and you can quickly diagnose and fix the problem in under 30 seconds. In some cases, because of the predictive nature, you can fix it before it’s even a problem.”
If you’ve ever hung around a backend developer, you may have heard the term “five nines of availability.” This can be taken quite literally to describe the general expectation of a platform’s service, afforded downtime of only five minutes per year (meaning the platform is up and running for 99.999% of the year, hence the five nines). This seems like an unreasonably high expectation, but I also think Nebraska should win the college football national championship every year so what do I know about expectations?
Matthew Barlocker is very familiar with both backend development and the doomsday proclamation — five nines of availability — that comes along with it. He also brings a vast reservoir of experience in the startup world, spending the last five years at Lucid Software in charge of building out the backend. As is the case at any software company, Barlocker was tasked with managing the platform’s uptime versus downtime — again, how often a platform is functional/available versus how often it is not. If the expectation is a maximum of five minutes of downtime PER YEAR, then it seems reasonable to assume the team charged with this task would have razor sharp tools to monitor, control, and predict any possible disaster scenarios.
As of now, these tools don’t really exist, at least not within one product suite and especially not when it comes to predicting possible errors. This is the problem Barlocker encountered time and again at Lucid. This is the problem he’s hoping to solve with Blue Matador.
“Unfortunately, all of the tools we had didn’t really help us with uptime,” said Barlocker, referring to his time at Lucid. “What they did for us, and what the majority of them still do, is they give you your data back in a searchable way. What I need is something to tell me when I’m going to have downtime. I need a predictive engine to correlate metrics across different types of data and to tell me things I didn’t even know to look for. And that’s what we’re building.”
The beginning of August marked the introduction of Blue Matador, Barlocker’s new company he hopes can revolutionize the world of devops (development and operations) monitoring solutions. Alongside fellow Lucid alumnus Mark Siebert, Barlocker has begun work on building out a product suite — known as OpsBunker — they hope is the answer the dev world has been searching for.
Okay, so let’s talk about existing tools. There are typically multiple components — logging, alerts/notifications, application metrics, application performance monitoring — but they are all separate. When an error inevitably occurs, the problem solver must log into different systems, configure filters/timeframes perfectly and search the available data, just to make an educated guess on the problem. Barlocker recalled an error from October of last year where he ran through this process, logging into four separate systems and spending valuable minutes diagnosing the error.
If you’re thinking there has to be a better way, Blue Matador could be your salvation.
“At Blue Matador, we have a single suite of products that do everything,” said Barlocker. “This is all about having your data in a single place. You login one time, go to one dashboard, and you can quickly diagnose and fix the problem in under 30 seconds. In some cases, because of the predictive nature, you can fix it before it’s even a problem.”
With help via a $400,000 funding round from various family members, Barlocker and Siebert have begun building the platform with a hope to release it in beta mode this October, available to the general public. They are starting with a server logging function, then plan on adding more products — alerts/notifications, website monitoring, etc. — as time goes on. This includes concentrating on designing a system that predicts errors before they happen, a large undertaking but one that would have ample value. Blue Matador is still in the infant stages of building, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t ample room for opportunity.
“Our focus is uptime and when your monitoring tools get out of the way, it’s easier for you to get your five nines of availability,” said Barlocker. “If you get an alert, and spend more than 10 seconds finding the relevant data, something has gone wrong.”