When it comes to news in the Kubernetes world, my cup really does runneth over. Last week was a big one for announcements from Kubernetes service providers and new members of the Cloud Native Container Foundation (CNCF) while this week it’s the turn of the SIVs doing interesting stuff in the space to stand up. And so we have Netsil, a company launching today that promises to resolve some of the observability challenges for the microservices era.

Netsil, isn’t that a type of washing powder?

Netsil, Persil, what’s in a name. no, unlike the vaguely similar-sounding cleaning product, Netsil is an application mapping and monitoring company. The company’s product, Application Operations center (AOC) is designed to enable DevOps teams to get a handle on the different services coming under their control, and the various dependencies related to those services. The net result is that given visibility into the increasingly complex nature of enterprise applications, operations teams have the best chance to reduce downtime.

AOC is available in either SaaS or self-hosted flavors and is integrated into the big three public cloud vendors (AWS, Azure, and GCP) as well as VMware. It also covers of the requisite container players, Kubernetes, Mesos, and Docker.

And, just in case you were scratching your head about the name “Netsil,” spell it backward and it all makes sense.

The launch messaging tells the story

Interesting, given that Netsil is only launching today, that they are pushing their Kubernetes coverage as their unique selling point. Netsil has obviously sensed the zeitgeist of the moment and decided that anything with a Kubernetes flavor to it is destined for… well, if not for success, at least for some more attention.

In Netsil’s defense, the move to container-based microservices makes the blindness that operators face when it comes to their services worse. As more services and interactions become part of applications, the challenges around seeing all of those linkages becomes bigger too. The Netsil AOC aims to address this blindness by delivering auto-discovered, real-time maps capturing all the services and their dependencies.

So, what is application mapping all about?

Pretty simple, really. This class of offerings can be thought of as “Google Maps for Cloud Apps”. The solution generates maps which automatically discover every Docker container, Kubernetes pod, host, and service endpoint, along with all the interactions among them. The maps also capture key service health metrics of latency, throughput and error rates for API calls, database queries, DNS lookups and several other service interactions.

The reason for the name (well, the reason for the slight obscure name spelled backward), is that Netsil doesn’t require any code changes in order to generate these maps and metrics. The service “listens” to service interactions and conducts a real-time analysis of packets to obtain application insights. As a result, Netsil observes everything that “hits the wire” including calls to external services such as AWS RDS, AWS DynamoDB, API calls to Google Maps, Salesforce, Stripe, Twilio, etc.

What about the incumbent APM providers?

Netsil is obviously looking to disrupt existing application monitoring solutions from the likes of AppDynamic and Dynatrace (not to mention Datadog and NewRelic.) While these vendors can also offer application maps, Netsil’s code-agnostic approach which doesn’t rely on code-instrumentation techniques means that every service, no matter what programming language it is written in, is covered by the platform. Not so for APM offerings that aren’t code-agnostic. With those solutions, each service written in an unsupported programming language becomes a blind spot for DevOps teams.

On top of that Netsil covers a range of critical services (databases, load balancers, service discovery and DNS) that are impractical to instrument using APM. SO in a world where microservices and a polyglot approach is the norm, Netsil wants to stand out as the most future-proofed option.

Where did Netsil come from?

Netsil’s product is the combined result of years of research at the University of Pennsylvania and the operational experience of founders at Google and Twitter. Describing the key insights behind Netsil, CEO and Co-founder, Harjot Gill said:

When you consider the chaos in application space with new programming languages, abstractions and frameworks, the network emerges as a natural, stable vantage point to observe and monitor modern cloud applications. Netsil’s network-centric approach is future-proof across generations of applications. So, whether it is Kubernetes and Docker today or Lambda functions tomorrow, the Netsil AOC will observe and monitor them without requiring any code changes.

MyPOV

I’m not sold on the name, but the notion of code-agnostic mapping makes sense – especially so given the increasing complexity that operations teams need to contend with. It’s early days, but I’m looking forward to seeing how Netsil goes now that it has launched.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

Leave a Reply