Industry Insights: What happened to Boundary?

September 03 2015

While I was at Gartner there was a trend towards distributed analysis of the network and host metrics; this trend was something we decided as a group to call AA-IPM and has since become IPM. In the research note How to Leverage Application-Aware Infrastructure Performance Monitoring to Simplify Root Cause Analysis (Gartner client access only) these products were explained and profiled. IPM tools tend to work from the server layer and provide a more agnostic and less user-focused visibility of infrastructure performance, allowing for isolation of performance issues down to the server. In the past 18 months since this note was published several things have happened: 

  1. Digital business transformation has become front and center for most organizations, creating the need to focus on the user and application, with less focus on the infrastructure.

  2. The combination of legacy systems with new systems of engagement to create new digital business moments.

  3. Mobile has exploded creating a need to delve within devices and applications.

  4. Cloud (public and private) has created massive growth both in applications, languages, and complexity.

These key trends have caused APM to be increasingly critical and strategic for most organizations while IPM has become less relevant. In the Gartner research note the future prediction was that IPM would fold into APM; this shift has already begun. We’ve seen the likes of Blue Stripe acquired by Microsoft to fold into System Center at some future date. We’ve also seen the recent fire sale of assets from Boundary to BMC. 

At conception, Boundary had a unique proposition, collecting highly granular data from the host network perspective via SaaS. It made the product able to work in highly virtualized environments including public cloud. There were a lot of customers who combined the use of this new tool with APM to provide even more visibility into the application and infrastructure. I spoke with many of these clients and saw the value of what would later be coined IPM.

The demise of Boundary is that it created too much data, the second granularity was critical to what they believed, and they had to stream and store all of this data. That created challenges for Boundary to find the right business model that allowed it to charge accordingly. By the time, they had figured this out they begun to diverge into deeper server monitoring and event management, which are two segments well defined by legacy players in the space. The innovation had departed, along with it many of the talented engineers had left. Ultimately the last leader within the company Gary Read departed earlier this year during the selling process. Gary created and grew Nimsoft into a server monitoring powerhouse, selling to CA with a successful exit. Gary is an A player in this space, with his departure the hopes of success at Boundary had ended.

It’s very challenging for an on premise focused software company to learn how to operate and sell SaaS products. BMC presents itself with fragmented tools, where Boundary only operates SaaS, and the rest of the BMC monitoring portfolio only operates on premise. These products all have different data stores, user interfaces, and APIs making it even more challenging. I do wish them luck trying to fold in a SaaS only product with an entirely on premises and legacy monitoring portfolio. Let the fragmentation continue for BMC, makes it easy for us at AppDynamics to organically build, deliver, and see successes of our Unified Monitoring vision of APM down to the infrastructure.

Jonah Kowall
Jonah Kowall is the Vice President of market development and insights, helping drive the company’s product roadmap and vision, while developing entry into new markets and providing valuable technology and business insights to fuel the accelerating and broad-based demand for the company’s Application Intelligence Platform. Jonah comes to AppDynamics with a diverse background including 15 years as an IT practitioner at several startups and larger enterprises focused on infrastructure and operations, security, and performance engineering. These included running tactical and strategic operational initiatives, going deep into monitoring of infrastructure and application components. In 2011 Jonah changed careers, moving to Gartner to focus on availability and performance monitoring and IT operations management (ITOM). Jonah led Gartner's influential application performance monitoring (APM) and network performance monitoring and diagnostics (NPMD) magic quadrants and research as a research vice president.