Startup Paglo, which first unveiled its "search engine for IT" in November, announced Tuesday that the fledgling SaaS (software as a service) offering is now available in open beta form through the (Northern) summer, after which the company will move to a paid model.
Paglo users download a crawler application that traverses their IT environments and collects performance-related data and other information. The results then get pushed up to Paglo's server, where they are stored in a separate index for each customer. Users can set how often they want the crawler to canvass the network or a particular asset in order to get the most up-to-date information into the index.
Users conduct searches through a Web-based interface. Results can come back in traditional, Google-like form, or as tables and chart visualizations, such as for the traffic patterns on a particular server over a length of time.
Paglo supports basic keyword searches: For example, a user could plug in "Excel" and find out how many machines have that application installed. For more advanced queries, Paglo has developed a SQL-like language called PQL.
There is also an alert application available, which can push messages about important events -- such as a server reaching a performance threshold -- to an administrator's e-mail or Twitter account.
In addition, Paglo has created an API (application programming interface) that enables users to create connections to additional network assets. "Imagine you have an old mainframe that has an old ERP (enterprise resource planning) system on it. We want to make it really easy for an IT administrator to have that information available in their [search] index," said Paglo Chief Technology Officer Chris Waters.
The company is not alone in the market, facing competition from the likes of Splunk. Paglo provides certain advantages, CEO Brian de Haaff argued, such as the social-networking or crowd-sourcing capabilities the company is building into the product.
For example, one feature allows users to post custom searches or dashboards and share them with others. "Searching for a given piece of information is pretty easy. But if you can take advantage of someone who is an expert in firewall monitoring, that's a big advantage," Waters said.
Meanwhile, Paglo claims more than 800 companies are participating in the private beta, which began last year.
One user is Tony Moraros, an IT consultant based in San Mateo, California.
"It's a quick way to identify issues that might be performance-related, without me having to spend a lot of time on-site, burning up the client's time. I can do it remotely," he said.
He also uses it to analyze a customer's environment when preparing for a major systems upgrade. "My due diligence is to find where the weakest stuff is. So instead of a 100 percent upgrade, [they do a] 60 percent upgrade."
In addition, the tool enables him to analyze data over time and "keep clients out of trouble," he said. "Through my searches I can extrapolate growth patterns and find out [that for example] they're going to run out of space on this machine. They can budget, we can plan for it."
Moraros is using the software to service about 10 of his clients, which have implementations ranging from 10 to 60 workstations, he said. "Where I find it's really useful is the upper end of that range. I just don't have the time to manually query every machine."
He was concerned initially about security problems until he learned that the crawler's ability to log into and index assets on the network is controlled locally, with no involvement with Paglo's servers. "That was the big relief for me," he said. He is not concerned about the security of the indexed data on Paglo's servers.
Security consultant Tahir Saleem wrote in a recent blog post that the company might gain additional credibility with larger companies by having its system undergo a third-party audit.
Such an effort is "already in process," de Haaff said.
The open beta will continue throughout the summer. Pricing and a general availability date have not yet been determined, he said.