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Q&A with Michael Fisher of OpsRamp

Wed 1 Sep 2021

Michael Fisher is Director of Product Management at OpsRamp. Following the announcement of a free version of their digital ops management platform, Michael caught up with us to discuss why cloud operators should take a DevOps approach to infrastructure management.

In your recentpress release announcing a free version of your digital ops management platform, you talk about applying a DevOps-like model to cloud ops management. What does this mean and why should IT operators care?

It means self-service. Just as a DevOps engineer would build, deploy and monitor their own applications, we’re allowing cloud engineers to provision their own monitoring services for their cloud applications. They should care because we’re removing friction from the process. There’s no need for systems integration, no real need for tech support. They can get up and running and seeing results in as little as 20 minutes. And they can judge fairly quickly for themselves if this technology offers value to them.

The notion that IT operators want tools that are easy to set up and easy to use makes sense. But is this realistic for something as complex as digital ops management? Can IT operators really expect that their core management platform will be as easy to use as a consumer service?

The more your platform does, the more complexity you’re going to have, that’s true. But for us and this particular offering, it’s about showing IT what’s possible without that complexity, what sort of capabilities you can have with an easy and fast setup. And our free trial provides capabilities to monitor and manage the modern cloud-based services that ITOps needs new tools to monitor and manage. This isn’t our full platform, but we think it provides valuable, useful technology that ITOps needs right now.

Let’s go deeper on your free platform. What can users expect in terms of functionality and depth? How have you designed the offering to ensure it’s rich enough for enterprise users?

We’re providing rapid resource discovery, monitoring, alerting, and dashboarding for delivering high performance and availability of cloud and cloud native services. So that’s more than 160 cloud services across the three major public cloud platforms: AWS, GCP and Microsoft Azure. That’s container monitoring at the cluster, container and microservices layer, orchestrated by Kubernetes. That’s ingestion support for Prometheus Alertmanager and out-of-the-box dashboards built on PromQL. And that’s real-time alerting across everything monitored with the ability to configure your own alert severity thresholds.

You can use your own cloud resources or play around with some pre-provisioned GCP resources. We’ve designed this so that people can see results in 20 minutes or less. Our onboarding wizard sets you up in no time without having to assign or clone monitoring templates. After onboarding your cloud and cloud native services, you’ll be able to access curated dashboards in a few simple steps. These are some of the same dashboards in our full product, tailored to some of the most cutting-edge workloads ITOps is running today.

Your release claims that users can see results within 20 minutes. Can you give an example of a metric or alert that an IT operator might receive in that timeframe that proves the value of your system?

I can think of several examples. But let’s say a cloud engineer has provisioned resources in Microsoft Azure. We can provide multiple metrics on how the cloud VMs are performing, how the network is performing, how many connections to the cloud server are supported, how much traffic is going in and out from that cloud server, how the load balancer is holding up, etc. A cloud engineer could see pretty quickly how their Azure infrastructure is performing and where there might be an issue that’s negatively impacting the user experience. Even if there are no immediate issues, they can set alerts for when a performance threshold is breached.

Stepping back, help me understand why IT operators need a free digital ops management solution. What about the legacy process of selecting and implementing these tools was so bad or difficult that a change was necessary?

We’re putting the IT operator, especially the cloud ops manager or cloud engineer, at the center of the evaluation process. They can easily set up and provision their own services and see results quickly. They use the tool everyday after all, and should have some sense of how well it will work for them and make their jobs easier. That doesn’t always happen in a more top-down software buying process that’s driven by the CIO or VP of IT operations.

Finally, do you think this notion of “product-led growth,” which suggests that software companies can increase product sales by making their solutions easier to purchase and use, is going to be a mainstay of B2B SaaS? Will it become the norm or is your approach the exception?

There will be different ways of going about it. Some SaaS vendors will offer a time-limited free trial, as we are. Some will offer a more feature-limited freemium offering, that doesn’t expire but leaves the customer wanting a bit more. But yes, I do expect this to be a mainstay of B2B SaaS. Vendors that don’t take a product-led growth approach are limiting  their ability to reach new customers. 


cloud operations DevOps infrastructure opsramp
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