I don’t have to tell anyone that we are experiencing unique times – and it can be disheartening to see the constant news cycle of a situation that is dictating major changes to our lives all around the world.
That’s why I’m especially excited to say “Let’s celebrate an anniversary!” Instana just turned five years old. I thought it would be a good time to reflect on why we started the company, what’s been successful for us so far, and look at where we’re going.
It was a cool week. We had a company celebration – virtual, of course. During the party, I was able to share some “birthday cards” that I received from our VCs that included great endorsements and messages of support for Instana.
It’s exciting to include them in our celebration, since they’re just as important a part of our success as our customers. I also would like personally thank the entire Instana team that has been instrumental in our expansion and growth in the last five years.
Although it was early 2015, it seems like only yesterday when Pete, Pavlo, Fabian and I founded Instana with the idea of changing the way APM works, especially when managing microservice applications.
We knew that enterprises wanted to accelerate their business and wanted to write and deploy applications faster, adopting an Agile and DevOps culture while transforming their architecture to the cloud, container and microservices. Our first slide from our pitch deck to raise capital back in 2015 was at the time rather accurate considering what followed in the industry:
We were very excited about this change. After all, every big application architectural shift had led to a new generation of tools around it, and we wanted to create the third generation of APM solution, following Wily (1st generation) and the trio of Dynatrace, AppDynamics and New Relic (second generation of tools built for Service-Oriented Architecture and the Cloud)
The three core concepts of our APM 3.0 were revolutionary and are still the DNA of Instana.
- One Agent Per Host
- Real-time Processing Platform with Streaming Data
- High Semantic Understanding Built Into the Product
Our goal was (and is) to provide the highest level of APM automation to DevOps teams so that they can focus on their job of building great and innovative software and can release software fast without dealing with their monitoring and observability stack.
Having One Agent per Host enabled us to Auto-Discover all running components on a host and will do the work of monitoring processes, injecting observability code for metrics and traces into running applications and streaming that data to the backend – all with the highest granularity and lowest overhead in the industry.
Our real-time processing platform digests all the data (metrics, logs, events, traces/spans) from the agent and applies intelligence on these streams to identify the health of services and components making this information easily actionable and highly contextual to increase the productivity for the DevOps teams .
Real-time reaction is still mandatory in today’s application landscape. Nobody can afford to wait 30 seconds or 5 minutes to understand if a deployment failed.
The last piece of the APM 3.0 puzzle is a data model with high semantical understanding of the monitoring and observability domain. That also means including all dependencies between physical and logical components. Our model is called the Dynamic Graph.
This monitoring system architecture enables us to do automatic root cause analysis, instant pipeline feedback and provide the easiest to understand user experience in all of monitoring with UI features like Context Guide (LINK) that uses the Dynamic Graph to give context to every situation a user is in.
With this idea and concepts in mind and an early prototype we started to raise capital and that was a tough experience. As a German based company, no Silicon Valley VC wanted to invest in us and we were lucky to find Target Partners in Germany who understand our domain and were eager to invest in our team and technology. This was a year after we started.
When I welcome new employees to Instana, I always show the following slide to describe the perfect journey for the next few years.
After emerging from stealth mode, we were quickly named a Gartner Cool Vendor, which we followed with the release of our first GA product. But technology is only part of the story. The real excitement has been building one of the truly great virtual companies in the world.
With original offices in Silicon Valley and Solingen, Germany, we’ve grown to hundreds of employees and standing offices in 6 different cities, with pockets of employees clustered in 10+ cities. We also raised two more rounds of capital from Accel and Meritech, two experienced and well respected teams that supported us from day one of their investment.
That was the other part of those original founder meetings. We didn’t just want to build a piece of technology – we wanted to create something great, something bigger than ourselves. And we set out to find others that wanted to be part of that special organization.
A key part of operating a company full of remote employees in all disciplines – sales, marketing, engineering, finance – was to build the company on a set of principles – our 5 core principles that define how we treat people and how we approach business.
These values drive everything we do and hold everyone accountable with what they do and decide.
Today we have well over 300 great customers all over the world and we have grown faster than I ever thought possible.
When we celebrated our 5th anniversary last week with our team during a remote Zoom session, it was a special moment for us, because of the uncertain times of COVID-19. This year is highly unpredictable for all companies and we had to setup Instana for stability in the next 12-18 months.
These times are when true category leaders will come out as the winner. We are doubling down on our great engineering, product and design team to further define the next generation of APM and observability tools. You can see the results of the team in some recent watermark product announcements:
- Smart Alerts are revolutionizing the whole space of alerting by combining easy to use alert blueprints with Instana AI
- Context Guide provides full context into underlying platforms & infrastructure for any component, showing Upstream and Downstream dependencies with one click
- AutoProfile always-on low overhead profiling allows Dev to analyze resource consumption of every line of code
- Mobile EUM with next generation end-user monitoring for iOS and Android based devices, provides the same real time visibility and no sampling approach
In the next few months we will extend the capabilities of Instana with the technology we acquired from BeeInstant – this will allow us to provide the best metrics and infrastructure monitoring experience in the market, combined with all the Instana capabilities and more flexibility to create custom dashboards and extensions.
I am so excited to see what the next 5 years will enable us to do together with our great customers. I can see categories like Infrastructure Monitoring, Logging and APM merge into a new Observability space and tools that empower DevOps teams to do their job of building and running applications in a highly intelligent and collaborative way. This is our mission, we want to give DevOps teams more time to build software and spend less time on troubleshooting and keeping the applications up and running.
Thanks for all the support from our team, customers, advisors and investors that have made this success possible and looking forward to continuing this success story!