CloudDevelopersDevOpsLet's Talk

Cribl: Connecting Cloud-Native Systems That Were Not Meant To Be Connected

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Guest: Clint Sharp
Company: Cribl
Show: Let’s Talk

In a cloud-native world, logging and metrics play a key role for any business that wants to stay on top of the security and reliability of systems and deployments. To make this a viable option, Cribl makes a stream processing engine for logs and metrics data. According to Clint Sharp, Co-Founder and CEO at Cribl, “What that means is that we connect a bunch of systems that weren’t originally intended to be connected; so that would be systems like Splunk or Datadog or Exabeam or AWS Services and we sell to IT and security professionals.”

Importance of Logs and Metrics

Just how important are logs and metrics? Considering it’s the information operators and security teams use to not only secure enterprise applications but to understand the behavior of applications, they’re absolutely crucial. This level of observability (according to Sharp) is about asking and answering questions of the data that comes out of systems that an enterprise business operates. Sharp defines observability as the ability to know what’s going wrong at any given time. Employing observability makes it possible to know where to look and who are the right resources in the enterprise to engage with to start troubleshooting.

The pandemic has created new challenges in the realm of data. To that, Sharp believes the biggest impact has been the growth in data volume. He says, “Our customers have seen a massive volume of data growth from things like zero trust, the deployment of microservices, the pandemic, and remote work. All these things are driving a huge increase in data…a 25% compound annual growth.” Sharp adds, “In five years, you’re going to have two and a half times more data than you have today.”

Direct Impact of Cribl On Developers

Sharp mentions there are cost-effective mechanisms for dealing with this type of data growth and enterprises are finally realizing they’ll need a multi-system portfolio of tools to help them manage the data and connect everything together. For that, Cribl LogStream, Cribl’s core product, allows users to connect data from many sources to many data stores (such as Splunk Enterprise, Elasticsearch, and Datadog). Cribl has another product, called Appscope, which runs at the endpoint and allows people to gather high-fidelity application intelligence/information that can be sent to many observability tools (such as Honeycomb or Lightstep).

Cribl also considers itself an anti-lock company. On that subject, Sharp explains, “One of the things that’s core to Cribl’s ethos is really helping customers take original proprietary tools and allow them to send it to other tools.” He adds, “What Cribl is doing is integrating and connecting things that weren’t intended to be connected. And so it’s allowing you to take data that was originally intended for one vendor’s tool, but put it into new open formats and other tools.”

Summary for this interview/discussion was written by Jack Wallen


Here is the rough, full transcript of the show:

Swapnil Bhartiya: I’m your host Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to TFiR Let’s Talk. We have with us today Clint Sharp CEO and co-founder at Cribl. Clint, it’s great to have you on the show.

Clint Sharp: I’m so excited to be here. Thank you.

Swapnil Bhartiya: We have covered Cribl before, but just to remind our viewers, tell me a bit about Cribl. What do you folks do?

Clint Sharp: So we make a stream processing engine for log and metric data. We really, what that means is that we connect a bunch of systems that weren’t originally intended to be connected. So that would be systems like Splunk or Datadog or Exabeam, AWS services and we sell to IT and security professionals.

Swapnil Bhartiya: As much as we like to create new applications, keep them running, make them more reliable, business continuity is even more important and that’s very, logs and metrics and all those things come in. Can you talk about the importance of log and metric data in today’s cloud native world?

Clint Sharp: Yeah. So this is really the information that operators and security people used to secure the applications, to secure the enterprise, to understand the behavior of applications. And so observability is really about asking and answering questions of the data that comes out of the systems that the enterprise is operating. And so that’s really what’s unique about the observability in particular is that we need to be able to ask and answer questions of the systems without being able to actually be inside of them. We need to observe what’s coming out of them and under, in order to know, “Hey, is my experience as an end user, like how was that actual application experience and for an individual user?” And that those are hard questions to answer and really require a lot of data about the operation of the application.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Let me talk about observability. It’s really important to know what is going on, what went wrong, but you also have to take action on it, understandability becomes a big [inaudible 00:01:59]. So if I ask you, are we like, the rule and just by knowing what went wrong or how things are performing or you also get involved, are you not, you in general by Cribl I mean, but if you look at this whole observer landscape, understandability and actionability is also a kind of part of the whole solution or we will look at observability.

Clint Sharp: Yeah. So like, where we play is we help connect like all these systems that where the data is coming out, but fundamentally the broader category of observability is… I’m operating potentially dozens of applications with many microservices. I’m operating them in the cloud in AWS and Azure. And there, I need to be able to really dive deep into those applications. And so yes, absolutely like actionability, the ability to know what’s going wrong at any given time is key and critical because first of all, I have to know, is there a problem? And then I needed to know like, how do I understand, from the application itself, like where I should even be looking? So it was a troubleshooter, really, we start with a basic thing of like, “Hey, somebody said something is wrong, like now how do I actually know where to go look and who the right resources in the enterprise to engage are to even start troubleshooting that problem?”

Swapnil Bhartiya: Right. And also if you do just look at, who said it, or who did something wrong, this pandemic has kind of changed the way we deploy applications, actually, the way we work, right? We have a hybrid workforce where companies are running, their workloads and employees are accessing it from their own devices. How has that affected? Also one more thing happened last year, especially with the pandemic, not that companies to start build their digital transformation journey, but they kind of accelerated, a lot of companies are rushed to digital transformated to the cloud because that’s where they will survive. How did that impact the logging and metric? How, what kind of, the influx that you saw, “Hey, people now do need to know your more that how things are performing?”

Clint Sharp: I think the biggest impact has been the growth in data volume and one of the things that we know from the analyst community that we see every day in our customers is that they see a massive volume of data growth from things like zero trust, the deployment of microservices, the pandemic and remote work. All these things are driving a huge increase in data that, data is growing at a 25% compound annual growth. So what that means is in five years, you’re going to have two and a half times more data than you have today. And that’s way faster than the growth in enterprise budgets. And that’s really where the tension is that organizations are looking at, “Hey, I’m going to need two and a half times more capacity in five years than I have today, but I’m not going to have two and a half times the budget.”

So that’s where the tension really exists. And that’s kind of how we’re playing in the enterprise as well is that we’re saying what’s the right place for the data. There are more cost-effective mechanisms of dealing with this type of data growth and enterprises are coming to the realization that they’re going to need a multi-system portfolio of tools that are helping them manage data and really connecting all of those things together and being able to build a rich portfolio of enterprise tooling to accommodate the data growth is really the biggest problem that we’re seeing in the industry today.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And if I just go back to Cribl, if you can talk about your own product portfolio or solutions that you have to help these customers also to keep up with the growth of data there.

Clint Sharp: So we have a core product Cribl LogStream, and Cribl LogStream allows users to connect data from many sources that could be agents that they have deployed like Splunk Universal Forwarder or [Elastic 00:05:49] speech agent. I connect that to many, many different data stores like Splunk’s core products, Splunk enterprise, Elasticsearch, products like Datadog and others. We also have another product called Appscope, which runs at the end point and allows people to gather high fidelity application intelligence and high fidelity application information that can then be sent to many different observability tools like a Honeycomb or a Lightstep. And we’re really in the connectivity business of getting high fidelity information through our core product LogStream to many, many other tools.

Swapnil Bhartiya: And if you just talk about LogStream, and if you talk about the problem that you earlier alluded to the growth of data, how are you keeping up with that? How is the product itself evolving?

Clint Sharp: Sure. So like one is we’re moving to the cloud. So like everybody else, but we’re giving our customers the ability to have metered billing to have a managed control plan that we operate on behalf of our users. We’re also moving into deeper CI/CD integrations and get DevOps type of workflows. We’re moving into supporting open telemetry. So we continue to enhance the product on a regular basis to continue to provide more value to our users.

Swapnil Bhartiya: When we talk about cloud and when we talk about data, data devotee is a serious topic there, which also can lead to vendor lock-in, when you look the huge amount of data that has been created, do you see any challenge, any problem there as well?

Clint Sharp: Yeah, we’re actually kind of the antilock end. So that’s kind of one of the things that’s core to Cribl’s ethos is really helping customers take original proprietary tools and allow them to send it to other tools. And that vendor lock-ins an interesting topic because vendors are not nefarious. They’re not coming out to say like, “I really want to lock you in.” It’s really in their own self-interest, they’re really just building tools for their customers. And they’re building tools that are integrated only inside of their vendor ecosystem. And what Cribl is doing is integrating and connecting things that weren’t intended to be connected. And so it’s allowing you to take data that was originally intended for one vendor’s tool, but put it into new open formats and into other tools.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you talk about how much open source do you folks do?

Clint Sharp: Our Appscope product that sits at the edge that is an open-source product. It’s Apache 2 license. It sits inside the application. And we really feel like at the edge users really want the open source to be able to trust what’s running inside of their application. But in our core product, we have a cloud service that, and we also have a licensed software product that the fundamentally proprietary.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Now let’s talk about the 200 million in the Series C Funding. If you look at all the problem areas that you mentioned, there’s a huge scope for growth and opportunity in this space. What are the areas where you will be investing and growing? And of course, congratulations for this funding.

Clint Sharp: Thanks, we were super excited about the partners that we’ve chosen. Greylock and Red Point are phenomenal firms, and we’re going to be using the frankly massive amount of money that we have raised to grow the company, fundamentally we invest in our own people. And we’re going to be investing in our go to market efforts and our engineering efforts for building new products, for establishing and moving into new territories.

Swapnil Bhartiya: When you say no, you will be investing in new areas. Can you just give us a kind of glimpse that what kind of things we should be expecting from Cribl in the coming months?

Clint Sharp: The things that we’re most excited about is giving customers the ability to store massive volumes of data. And that’s a concept that we call an observability [lake 00:09:21] and you’ll see us really working to advocate this concept of an open ecosystem of data that allows people to store petabytes and petabytes of data in open formats cost effectively in a vendor neutral way. So that if they decide that they want to put data into new tools, or they want to go back in time, or they need to do breach investigations, that we can store all the data in the enterprise and give customers the true ability to store all of the data that may be relevant and unlock the value of all of that data.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Clint thank you so much for talking to me today about observability, of course, your focus and the new funding round. And as usual I can clearly see there are a lot of things that you guys are planning. So I would love to have you back on the show, thank you for your time today.

Clint Sharp: Thank you much for having me on the show. And it’s been a pleasure talking to you.

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