LightStep Launches With [x]PM For Complex Application Performance Monitoring

Application monitoring startup LightStep has come out of stealth with its first product, [x]PM, designed to monitor complex distributed applications built with modern microservices architectures. LightStep has also announced funding to the tune of $29 million from a Series A round of $7.5 million led by Redpoint, a Series B round of $20 million, led by Sequoia, and seed funding from investors Cowboy Ventures and Harrison Metal, who participated in both rounds.

Ben Sigelman, CEO and co-founder of LightStep
Ben Sigelman, CEO and co-founder of LightStep

“There’s been a major architectural shift in how people build software,” said co-founder and CEO Ben Sigelman. “It’s hard to see what happens in any one transaction across systems using traditional approaches.”

“Our mission at LightStep is to cut through the scale and complexity of today’s software to help organizations stay in control of their systems,” he said.

Sigelman built and ran global-scale monitoring technologies at Google, including Dapper, an always-on distributed tracing system that analyzes more than 2 billion transactions per second. Sigelman is also the co-creator of the OpenTracing standard, part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation.

[x]PM has two major differences to alternative performance monitoring approaches: firstly, it captures all the telemetry data, rather than just a subset. That means absorbing a lot of data from modern applications with many micro-services processing thousands of transactions a second, which many other tools are unable to keep up with. Secondly, it’s not aimed solely at troubleshooting problems, but also seeks to give advance warning of potential issues using anomaly detection.

[x]PM has collectors that live close to the application systems themselves, within a datacenter or in the VPC for cloud applications, whatever suits the application architecture. These collectors are connected to cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) portal used to provide a central point for management and control.

Sigelman was keen to point out to me that the collectors are not merely store-and-forward satellite systems, but are in constant bi-directional communication with the SaaS. The communication is metadata, so the full firehose of application tracing data doesn’t stream into the cloud, but there’s some secret sauce in how the collectors and SaaS work together.