Identify Software has adapted the concept of the 'black box' airline flight recorder to discover why computer systems 'crash'.
The company, founded in 1996 and known as Mutek Solutions until May 2002, has developed technology that tracks application activity at the user, system and code level, enabling an enterprise to find out why a system or application failed. Its name? The Black Box Flight Recorder.
Dov Sharon, vice president of marketing at Identify, says the software is sold as part of the company's AppSite umbrella software suite. AppSite provides four consoles for monitoring and analysing the data gathered by Black Box.
These consoles are AppSite Manager, for installing and configuring tracking parameters; AppSight User, which views and analyses end-user interactions with an application; AppSight Code, which monitors lines of software code; and AppSight System, for tracking software object interactions between applications and systems, including operating systems and databases.
But AppSite does not come cheap. This is because customers are charged for each client and server device that the Black Box is installed on. A typical customer contract for AppSite costs between $15,000 and $100,000 (€16,800 and €112,000).
That price has not prevented Identify building a significant customer base. It now has more than 2,000 customers, including Microsoft and Danske Bank. More than 500 new customers were added during 2001 alone.
Identify has also been lavishly funded. It has raised more than $48 million (€53.8m) in venture capital funding, enabling it to expand quickly into Germany, the UK and the US. Profitability is close, says Sharon.
More fortuitous still, it faces few direct competitors. Probably Identify's strongest competitor is software tool vendor Compuware, although the latter focuses more on the pre-deployment phase.
The main concern for Identify must be the possibility of one of the major systems management software vendors, such as Computer Associates, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, moving into its market.
Identify's technology will never be as important to corporate networks as 'black box' flight recorder boxes are to airlines. Indeed, some critics may suggest it is tasteless to link the two. But it is undoubtedly a clever piece of marketing, and importantly, users seem to like it.