Container startup Sysdig lands Series A funding, aims to resolve container visibility issues

Sysdig enters the 'container monitoring' space to try to carve out its own niche.

Containerization illustration: loading dock for binary code data containers
Credit: Thinkstock

As containers in general, and Docker in particular, gain widespread enterprise interest and adoption, the ecosystem is becoming awash with companies aiming to bite off part of the Docker opportunity for themselves. Into the "container monitoring" space comes Sysdig to try to carve off its own niche.

To anyone who has been offline for a couple of years, the clamor in the IT industry around Docker must seem strange. The initiative came from nowhere (or, even worse, came from a failed PaaS company, dotCloud) and reimagined a pretty humdrum sort of a technology (the Linux container). But through an unusual aligning of the stars that humble initiative has variously been called a VMware killer, a revolution for the industry, and the biggest thing since sliced bread.

So given the massive interest around Docker, it is to be expected that there will be a corresponding increase in startups solving perceived or actual problems around the use of Docker. Today's example: Sysdig

Sysdig calls itself the "container visibility company." What this means is that they are focused on offering deep visibility into the performance of containerized applications. The company was founded in 2013 by Loris Degionanni and has created an open source product that has built up a community of thousands of developers. Sysdig Cloud is the company's first commercial product and, like other commercial products built around an open-source initiative, it wraps support, SLAs, and enterprise pricing around the product.

The company is today announcing a hefty $10.7 million Series A funding round alongside the launch of the commercial offering. In terms of the raise, Accel Partners and Bain Capital Ventures are co-leading the round. This is interesting since Accel, in particular, has been very active around the Docker ecosystem having invested in a number of Docker-related entities - Accel seems to be taking a leadership role in the space. Previously, Sysdig had praised a $2.3 million seed funding round led by Bain Capital Ventures in June 2013.

Despite only releasing an enterprise product now, Sysdig has already seen some enterprise success. One customer is fundraising site everydayhero. The company, which leverages Docker for some (but, importantly, not all) of its infrastructure, struggled to see how its Docker containers were interacting with other components of its infrastructure. Says Dan Sowter, Engineering Manager for the company: "Sysdig Cloud is the only solution that delivers the unique ability to see inside containers without instrumenting the containers themselves. This elegant approach fits naturally into our microservice architecture and gives my team the insight we need to monitor and troubleshoot our new containerized environment confidently and efficiently."

In terms of what Sysdig offers customers, the platform promises to enable them to:

  •  Deploy enterprise-grade monitoring as a microservice
  •  Gain deep visibility into containers, beyond just basic resource usage
  • Understand the holistic state of their complex, distributed environments
  • Troubleshoot bottlenecks and issues in containerized applications

Sysdig is pushing its differentiation in terms of its Docker-centricity. "Containers are by their very nature dynamic, isolated, lightweight, and portable," said Degioanni, "These characteristics have put containers at the heart of the current revolution from monolithic apps to microservices. But these same characteristics also make containers impractical to monitor with traditional, agent-based methods. What the market is demanding now is a new, ‘container-native’ performance management approach that both respects the core principles of containers and enables their core benefits."

Of course, many other services (NewRelic, DataDog, Boundary, and others) provide this functionality already, albeit via platforms that were created before the rise of Docker. The real question here is whether Sysdig, with its "Docker-native" approach, can deliver additional benefits that more mature platforms cannot. The company believes so and has some impressive support. "As containers become a vital part of application deployment, the need for container-centric monitoring and visibility becomes paramount," said Alex Polvi, CEO of CoreOS, the creator of Tectonic that provides Google-like infrastructure for everyone else. "There is great demand for a tool like Sysdig’s that provides insight into the complexity and dynamism of containerized environments. Sysdig’s technology is helping advance the container industry by bringing production quality tools to make containers easier to understand and use."

Whether this support and Sysdig's origins in a Docker world are enough to give enterprises the push to choose them over competitors remains to be the seen. But for the moment, Sysdig Cloud is available as software as a service, launching today, or as self-hosted solution that is currently still in beta. Sysdig will be an interesting one to watch.

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