Tap In Systems Monitors and Runs in the Cloud

Startup Tap In Systems is launching its Cloud Management Service, a platform that will be used to monitor cloud-based applications, at the Under the Radar conference, it said on Tuesday.

Tap In Systems was founded in September 2008, and its Cloud Management Service (CMS) platform has thus far been beta tested by four unnamed companies. Now, the plan is to increase that to about 10 customers in preparation for a wider launch at the end of the second quarter or the beginning of the third, according to Peter Loh, founder and CEO of Tap In Systems.

"We want to be careful and make sure that our product and the features we offer are robust," Loh said.

The existing version of CMS supports Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) platform. Support for cloud platforms from GoGrid and 3tera will be added later this year, according to Loh.

Just like Amazon it charges per instance and per hour for the software. The current version will cost US$0.49 for each instance of the software.

Just like traditional platforms, CMS uses agents -- which in Tap In's case are free and open source -- to extract monitoring data. For example, it has agents for Amazon EC2, Linux and Windows based systems as well as combinations of those, which makes it possible for the platform to monitor both cloud-based applications and on-premise systems.

There is also an agent support for HAProxy, an open source-based load balancer.

"We see these agents as being easy to deploy if you want base information, but also extensible if you need custom information for more in-depth monitoring," said Loh.

Open source is key to how Tap In builds its platform, according to Loh.

"The environment has changed; 10 years ago you needed to build all those agents yourself, so you needed to monetize that. Today you can Google the scripting piece of gathering the monitoring information, and find 10 different open-source implementations," said Loh.

Tap In takes advantage of that, incorporating the appropriate open-source scripts into CMS and then distributes the result out again, according to Loh.

CMS is a cloud application, which cuts down the time and skill it takes to roll out and manage the service, according to Loh.

The company's target will be enterprise-class customers. The largest of its beta customers is running about 200 Amazon EC2 instances, Loh said.

Tap In Systems offers two main clients: an event console for real-time monitoring and a simpler Web interface for historical reporting. There are, for example, reports for CPU, disk and network utilization. There is also the possibility to aggregate the average performance for a group of applications, which simplifies the monitoring of a large number of instances, according to Loh.

It's also important that tools used to monitor cloud based applications are integrated into the existing, traditional enterprise operation environment, according to Loh. Not everyone will go 100 percent cloud, or probably even 50 percent, so the tools have to fit into the common infrastructure to lessen the impact of a move to cloud based application, he said.

The company has a plan for integration with HP OpenView, but it hasn't started executing the plan yet, according to Loh. He is also looking for a company that runs OpenView -- or any of the other large management platforms -- to work on that integration.

It has already integrated CMS with GroundWork, an open-source monitoring software package.

Tap In Systems eventually have to compete with existing large monitoring platforms. Being small and nimble will be its primary advantage, said Loh.

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