Librato is a teeny (just 10 employees) San Francisco based startup engineering cloud monitoring and management “as a service” solutions: Silverline, and next to be released, Metrics. This company is a real new born: they began developing their first product in 2007, then released the first version in 2008. In the beginning the product was sold in a traditional way, but in 2010 they decided to adopt the SaaS model.

By now, most likely because of the affinity, Librato’s customers are mainly Saas providers, but anyone can easily buy the product from their web site, and even give it a free trial. In the future, when features will be added and more environments will be supported, I’m sure we’ll see their products adopted by more traditional customers.

In practice

An agent (a very lightweight and unobtrusive piece of software) is installed on your VM (or on a plain physical machine), and will programmatically send VM usage parameters, or specific applications stats being monitored, to a centralized server set up to collect data and to act in a programmed fashion in case thresholds are crossed or events occur.
Depending on the service put under control, a plethora of parameters can be monitored, ranging from the mundane CPU and RAM usage to the more exotic temperature of the server,
An agent can enforce resource limitation for a specific application, (they call this “container”), allowing processes prioritization (similarly to projects and containers in a Solaris environment, here is a link to some technical details).

By now only Linux, as VM as well as physical incarnations (even EC2 intances) is supported, but support to several other platforms (i.e. Windows) is on its way.
You can also get a develoement kit to customize even further the “data collector”.

Everything under control, even your costs

Being able to keep under scrutiny your server resources is cricial to understand how much you are spending, and to envise how to better use your money.
Just think about some tasks that are cpu intensive but are not required to be high priority executed: using Librato’s tools you can reserve CPU to more important tasks! preventing you from a beefier server purchase, or just downsizing a VM. With this in mind, Librato’s solutions can be also thought as a capacity planning measure.

Let’s demo

The demo carried out during my visit really impressed me, I warmly recommend you to test the product (I already told you can have a free ride, didn’t I?), even after the free trial period, you will not be charged for the first 8 monitored cores (great for keeping under control an EC2 instance or a VM hosted somewhere).

Bottom line

The product might not be fully grown-up yet, but even in its infancy it proves to be very interesting and Librato is one of those small enterprises really deserving to be kept an eye upon.