Start-up offers a kick in the cloud with management technology

Cloudkick says its SaaS application will help systems administrators control and optimize cloud services.

Start-up Cloudkick launches its software-as-a-service management application to help IT systems administrators get a handle on managing servers in the cloud.

Cloudkick, a start-up based in San Francisco, recently launched its commercial management software that the vendor says will help systems administrators manage servers in the cloud, with free and relatively low-priced technology.

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By all accounts systems management vendors are scrambling to equip their software portfolios with the capabilities needed to manage availability and performance of servers hosted in cloud environments. Market leaders such as BMC and CA have even pointed to cloud ambitions in recent acquisitions. But the three founders of Cloudkick, previously systems administrators, developers and/or designers themselves, say they have created a product to manage servers hosted in the cloud that don’t also give IT a lot hassle or headaches.

“We wanted to make the lives of systems administrators easier with a common set of tools they can use to see how servers are performing in multiple data centers,” says Alex Polvi, co-founder of Cloudkick. “We are positioned for customers of the cloud, including hosting providers, but the product is built for teams of operations professionals. That is the sweet spot.”

With Cloudkick, systems administrators can manage servers from multiple clouds all in one dashboard. Cloudkick supports cloud providers including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Rackspace, Slicehost, Linode, GoGrid, VPS.NET and Rimuhostin. The SaaS application requires an agent be installed on the server, which allows Cloudkick to gather information from the system. Polvi says the company took the SaaS approach because it simplifies things for systems administrators and it also helps Cloudkick differentiate itself from other monitoring tools on the market. Polvi also says Cloudkick helps manage servers but also provides additional, objective input for its customers.

“We see ourselves as a neutral third-party solution that provides management features but also information that can help customers make decisions about when they need to act, if they need to move a server and maybe if another provider would be a better fit for them,” Polvi says.

Competing with open source monitoring software such as Nagios and fellow Start-up RightScale, Cloudkick is available as a SaaS application and delivered as a service. The company earlier this year made available a free version and now offers the SaaS application in tiers, based on the number of servers and system administrators or IT users accessing the service. Available now, tiered pricing for Cloudkick begins at $99 per month and can reach $599 per month.

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