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VMblog Expert Interview: Rookout Talks Understandability and Details its Latest 'Data On-Prem' Solution and What Comes Next

interview rookout 

Rookout is a SaaS company helping businesses get the data they need in real time, in order to make better decisions.  They are advocates for the importance of ‘Understandability' in software, and today launched a new product called Data On-Prem built for large enterprises that still want to leverage SaaS.  To learn more, VMblog spoke with Liran Haimovitch, Co-Founder and CTO of Rookout.

VMblog:  Let's start at the beginning: What are the key challenges that Rookout, as both a product and a company, are trying to solve?

Liran Haimovitch:  We are working hard to bring Understandability to software. It's a problem that's staring developers in the face every day -- we ship code and then lose control of it. This means it can be quite difficult to understand how it's working in real-world environments. Collecting data to fill our knowledge gaps, is often a tedious, long, and risky process. If data is the new oil, then you can say Rookout is trying to provide companies with the best drill to go in and extract it.

VMblog:  Can you explain more what Understandability means -- where does the term come from and how does it relate to Observability?

Haimovitch:  It's a term that comes from the finance industry. Understandability is the concept that a system should be presented so that an engineer can easily comprehend it. The more understandable a system is, the easier it will be for engineers to change it in a predictable and safe manner.

In terms of how Understandability relates to Observability, they are deeply complementary. But the latter focuses more on the ability to alert when the system misbehaves, like a metal detector scanning the beach. You still need a tool to go in and extract what you're looking for once you've located the problem.

VMblog:  Engineers need data in order to write better code, but they need to write more code in order to retrieve that data.  This paradox creates the "fly slow or fly blind" dilemma.  How do most companies traditionally deal with this problem?

Haimovitch:  Based on the amount of time organizations report spending on traditional logging and debugging methods, the short answer is this problem really hasn't been tackled effectively by most organizations. What often happens is they get what I like to call "Logging FOMO" -- when something goes wrong, they want to be able to access the logs for more data, so they are writing logs everywhere. Not only is this costly and time-consuming, it still doesn't guarantee you'll have the data you need when you need it.

What if you can have the best of both worlds? That's the world we want to create. Where developers don't need to write endless log lines or spend unnecessary time debugging, but rather give them a tool that gives them instant access to data on the fly.

VMblog:  Rookout is a SaaS tool that's built for the enterprise, but it's clear you are also appealing to software developers directly.  How do you straddle those two worlds?

Haimovitch:  In our hearts, we are a tool built by developers for developers. That said, as we've scaled our product we've seen the greatest traction and the highest ROI for large enterprise customers. Which makes sense -- Their environments are much larger, which makes it even harder to find data quickly. And the time, money, and effort lost trying to address these problems is just much greater at big companies, so in turn the value of what we offer is much more apparent. We offer a free tier to anyone who wants to give us a spin and debug their applications much more efficiently.

VMblog:  That makes sense and explains the motivation behind your new product Data On-Prem.  It's giving large enterprises the best of both worlds: SaaS agility and enterprise control and governance.  Can you provide more detail about this new product?

Haimovitch:  The notion that large companies don't want to use cutting-edge technologies is simply untrue. They'd love to keep up with the pace of innovation at startups, but they just have a lot more concerns around data privacy, governance, controls etc to worry about. This often forces them to limit their adoption of SaaS solutions.

Well, that's why we worked hard to solve this problem. Data On-Prem will provide large companies in data-sensitive environments all of the benefits of SaaS (quick installation, easy configuration, no maintenance, etc) while simultaneously eliminating the typical concerns around control and governance. Rookout never sees the data -- we hand it to the company in a closed envelope. We are helping companies in industries like finance and healthcare solve issues in their production environments in minutes, that used to take them days or weeks.

VMblog:  How else does Rookout address the needs of the enterprise?  And can you give us a tease of something you're working on for the future?

Haimovitch:  Rookout is SOC II, ISO 27001, and HIPPA compliant. My Co-Founder and I come from a cybersecurity background, so obviously we take safety and security very seriously. We've also recently announced support for .NET which has been one of the most highly requested features from our larger customers.

In terms of what we are working on, we have a new heatmap coming out in the near future, which will show a business which applications are having the most problems. Especially in distributed environments, which are becoming more and more common, there will be situations where multiple teams find an issue with the same application. So to an individual team, it may seem like there's only a single problem, when actually there were many if you looked across the entire organization. So we will provide an easy, centralized way to visualize the pieces of your business that are having the most issues, so that they can be escalated and addressed.

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Published Thursday, June 18, 2020 9:02 AM by David Marshall
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