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August 4, 2015

Big Data tools akin to painting a wall with a shovel

C-level briefing: Jess Rothstein, ExtraHop CEO, discusses inflexible tools and moving to best in breed.

By James Nunns

CBR spoke with Jesse Rothstein, CEO, ExtraHop about wire data, trying to paint a wall with a shovel and drowning in data.

For Rothstein, wire data is the richest and most voluminous source of data, but it’s easy to drown in that data.

"You can drown in data and most of its noise. It’s perhaps a dirty secret amongst software developers that most applications log error all day long, but they’re innocuous and expected during the normal operation of the application."

The question comes then of how to find the bad errors in vast quantities of data. In theory you are looking through data that equates to more words than were ever spoken by all humans in history.

A network engineer by trade, Rothstein, said: "I can’t find what I’m looking for in a relatively small package trace. To look for a problem in a large packet trace is like looking for a snowflake in an avalanche, I could spend the rest of my life doing it."

Identifying the challenge to the industry, Rothstein, said: "A lot of vendors sell tools but tools are like a shovel. They do one thing and do one thing well – but they’re not particularly flexible. Shovels’ are great for digging holes but not so great for painting a wall."

His solution is to create a flexible platform which has over 3,000 metrics to help find things that are interesting.

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Differing from a legacy tool, he explains that customers can add things to the platform and use it for ways the company hadn’t thought of.

Being in the Big Data analytics market is hard work, the competition is tough with many large vendors offering platform solutions that can do everything.

As with the Cloud market, it is important for companies to find a differentiator that can set you apart from the competition. ExtraHop focuses on Wire data.

Rothstein is seeing a market trend for specialisation based on the source of the data, praising Splunk for its machine data specialism and AppDynamics’s specialisation on code level instrumentation.

While there has always been debate about whether a large integrated suite or best of breed solution is the best way to go, a swing towards best of breed is definitely happening in his opinion.

Rothstein explains: "People have found that most of the large integrated suites aren’t as integrated as they’d like, a lot are cobbled together through acquisitions."

Part of the reasoning behind this in Rothstein’s opinion is that big vendors are going through a restructuring. "A lot that offered those integrated suites are seeing a big restructuring and re-tooling going on.

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