Building for scale: Boundary processes 5 terabytes of data daily

Looking back on his first year at the helm of the network monitoring company, Boundary CEO Gary Read (pictured) sees progress by all sorts of metrics, but still has his eye on the future.

Whereas application-performance-management providers such as AppDynamics and New Relic help clients zero in on problematic code inside applications, Boundary looks out for issues slowing down the network, including the application itself.

Based in San Francisco, Boundary has more than doubled its workforce, going from 12 employees to 28 since Read joined the company last January. Since launching in November 2011, Boundary has grown its clientele to 600 customers, 76 of whom pay for the company’s services. And the amount of data flowing into the company’s infrastructure from clients has grown substantially, from less than half a terabyte to more than 5 terabytes daily. For comparison Facebook stores 1 percent of that amount every 24 hours, according to a November post from the social networking company.

Amount of network and application data Boundary has processed per day in recent months
Amount of network and application data Boundary has processed per day in recent months

Annual revenue has gone up, too, although Read declined to provide figures.

Some infrastructure hiccups have accompanied all that growth.

“So definitely as you continue to scale the system, it’s very difficult to test a system like this to unlimited scalability, and so as you continue to push more and more data then it will show itself in different parts of our platform, and different tiers in the application may start to run out of horsepower, or we may start to hit certain limitations in particular areas,” Read said. “We’ve seen that twice already … . In one case, we had to use solid-state disks instead of physical disks. … In another case, we’ve had to add more servers and more processing thru that infrastructure, to deal with us starting to get to capacity limits in what we could be processing.”

More challenges could lie ahead, Read said.

As more clients sign up for monthly or yearly contracts, more data is entering the equation. Boundary could open a second data center, exclusively for paid users, to offer better service, Read said. A service that processes one gigabyte is available to users free of charge.

“With just the sheer volume of data being dealt with so very, very quickly, and so much insight given quickly into that data, this is something where we’re really starting to move into ground that’s never been attacked before,” Read said. And as that data grows it seems so far Read has been able to scale Boundary’s infrastructure. So far he said that the amount the company spends on infrastructure is declining as a percentage of revenue, which is to be expected since the company over-provisioned on its hardware in the early days.

However, as time passes and Read contemplates adding more capacity, he’s confident that Boundary can continue to scale both the infrastructure and its business model. Given how useful network monitoring can be for cloud-based applications Boundary should prepare for more customers and more competition, such as the newly launched Lyatiss.