Byron Sebastian, chief executive of Seattle-based SourceLabs, said the new system increases support and service by providing continuous diagnostic monitoring of production systems to prevent downtime. The system initiates pre-emptive repair processes that discover and resolve issues before they become problems, and it provides ongoing notification, alert and analysis services, Sebastian said.
"The Continuous Support System is the payoff to the bet we made in support for large enterprises," he said. "We always said technology and software could be applied to the support issue."
SourceLabs Continuous Support System features what Sebastian calls "adaptive diagnostic probes" that are fully integrated and configured for customer environments. The probes identify production issues and begin to gather diagnostic information to help get to the root of the problem, he said. Indeed, the probes can be configured so that as soon as a problem occurs, the SourceLabs support team extracts system information to find and resolve the problem. And the system includes a database of more than 200,000 signatures of problems that might occur, Sebastian said.
"Its like an MRI into the situation," said Cornelius Willis, vice president of marketing and co-founder of SourceLabs. "But where the magic is lies in what we do with the information."
The SourceLabs Continuous Support System features issue acquisition tools that continuously check open-source data sources and come away with more than 1,000 problem signatures a day, Sebastian said.
The key pieces of the system include the adaptive diagnostic monitoring probes; automated issue acquisition tools; a database of over 200,000 issue and failure signatures; failure signature-matching algorithms; continuous notification, alert and analysis services; and pre-emptive triage and repair services, Sebastian said.
"We think this is the strength of open source," Sebastian said, noting that instead of waiting for quarterly or monthly updates, open-source software developers are constantly updating and refining open-source software, and users can get access to fixes on a daily basis.
"The most interesting aspect of the SourceLabs announcement to me is the way it leverages a literally immense of amount of information that is currently scattered around the Internet, putting it to work for engineers," said Stephen OGrady, an analyst with Denver-based market research firm RedMonk LLC. "This is nontrivial technology, and it should give engineers a significant head start in fixing issues as they arise. Its like a programmatically manipulable and automated knowledge base that is populated by anyone who posts to a variety of forums. Rather than compare obscure stack traces and so on to a variety of sources on the internet, the application does that for them."
"SourceLabs is taking advantage of the transparency of open-source software to take a major step toward automating the support processes," said Michael Goulde, an analyst with Forrester, of Cambridge, Mass. "Access to bug-tracking databases is unique to open source, as is third-party support services of the type for that matter. This is another example of how open source provides the basis for creative and innovative solutions to challenges faced by IT. In this case, the challenge is to provide high-quality, low-cost, responsive support to complex software support."