Who is Uila?
Uila (a Hawaiian word pronounced “wee-la”) is a full-stack monitoring company. That is, Uila monitors all aspects of your data center infrastructure, including networking, storage, and virtualization. These aspects are correlated to application performance. When there is a problem within the infrastructure, the Uila interface is designed to make it easy to find the root cause with a high degree of certainty.
The big idea is to tackle increasingly complex data center infrastructure and monitor it in a results-oriented way. Rather than create lots of graphs and threshold alarms (which the platform can certainly do), Uila helps an operator overwhelmed with infrastructure statistics zoom right in on the crux of the problem.
What did they announce?
On April 4th, 2017, Uila announced an end-user focused addition to the platform. Uila now understands what the end user experience is for an application, knows when it goes out of bounds, and helps determine root cause.
If you’re not grasping the value here, imagine a web application. That app is made up of a bunch of moving parts. Here’s a few of them that Uila might be monitoring.
- Hostname resolution
- HTTP object loading
- Storage reads and writes
- Database reads and writes
- Virtualized host CPU and memory utilization
- Network traffic and latency
Now, let’s say you get the classic call, where the end user reports that the network is slow, or the Internet is slow, or their computer is slow. How do you troubleshoot that vague report? If you can at least get the user to tell you what app they were using, you can head into Uila and start sleuthing. What is the user’s experience for this app right now? Is it actually slow, compared to normal?
And then, if indeed the app is slow based on Uila’s presentation of your data center infrastructure’s metrics, you can find out exactly why. It could be that the app is performing normally, but that hostname resolution is taking several seconds. Or perhaps the host an HTTP server is running on is CPU bound. Maybe the database server is falling all over itself, with transactions queuing up due to a storage problem.
Let’s take this one step further. With Uila, you should know there’s a problem before the users are calling. You are less likely to be taken by surprise. This puts you a little closer to “proactive” and little further from “reactive.”
Do you need this product?
If your company delivers applications to its users on infrastructure you own, then Uila is an interesting product. Uila goes after the problem of different folks in different tech silos pointing the fingers at each other. How does it do this? By presenting hard data in an easy-to-grasp interface that is correlated to applications, and now to user experience.
The view from the hot aisle.
Over the years, I’ve seen many application performance management tools. The space is crowded, and many of the entrants are…okay. Not great. Not terrible. Functional. Therefore, when I heard about Uila, I was initially prepared to be unimpressed one way or the other. But there’s something to this product.
I haven’t had a chance to demo Uila yet. I’m not sure I ever will, as crowded as my calendar is. But, I did get a nice, long demo from the Uila team. There was one major aspect of the tool that really got my attention: root cause analysis. I’m not saying Uila is the only one on the market with RCA capabilities. They aren’t. But what caught my eye was the way in which the RCA data was presented.
Through a single interface, app statuses are presented. If something is other than green, click on it to drill down. You can see all the components of the app. Keep clicking and drilling until you get right down to the root issue—the infrastructure component that is behaving badly, impacting your application performance and user experience.
The issue with the monitored element will be spelled out in detail. For example, if storage health is the problem, you can drill into that to see what the details are–perhaps read latency and other statistics. Then you can drill into that specific issue, and find out what hosts are using the storage. Then you can drill even deeper to find out what VMs on a specific host are contending for storage resources.
Even better? Uila is historical. You can rewind—go back in time to see what was going on in your infrastructure several hours ago when there was a problem. That helps deal with the “incredible disappearing issue” all troubleshooters love to hate, because there never seems to be a problem when we’re looking.
In short, Uila appears to be worth a proof of concept to me. If I was in the market, I’d be taking it for a test drive. The current product is strong, and they’ve got containers and hybrid cloud environments on their roadmap. That will take Uila into the future.