JLizard’s Logentries: Reducing the Time Taken to Analyse Log Files via the Cloud

JLizard is a Dublin startup that provides cloud-based log management as a service for large enterprise systems. Its product, Logentries, collects, stores, analyses, and visualises the log entries from these large software systems, ensuring that the customer can monitor the functioning of their system, and quickly identify and eradicate any flaws that may be present.

JLizard is a spin-out from UCD, where company founder Trevor Parsons completed his PhD in the area of, “detecting design flaws in large enterprise applications from a performance perspective.”

Having initially considered this space to be one that was overcrowded, Trevor refrained from commercialising his PhD research at the time and took up a research position in conjunction with IBM and UCD building lab management technologies, especially for pre-production test environments.

“The systems, during the test would produce massive amounts of log data, and at the end of the test run management would come and knock on the door of the test team and say “has this test passed or failed?”, and the test team would turn around and say, “give us three days or five days to look at the log data and we’ll tell you.”

“So we developed a technology that would allow them to instantly understand, as soon as the tests were completed, whether the test data was clean or not. And if it wasn’t clean, they could figure out within minutes what type of events had occurred that were problematic, so were there errors in the system, were there warnings in the system, when did they occur and what was the distribution of those events?”

Following on from this project, Trevor and his co-founder Viliam Holub developed JLizard’s Logentries log management service.

“Essentially it’s useful for any company that has a customer-facing critical system, a system that is critical for the business,” explains Trevor.

“Any company with a website that they’re doing high volume transactions on, any company that has internal systems that are running their business, loses a lot of money when that system goes down.

“While we had developed the original technology for test environments, it can be applied, and is very much applicable, for live systems. So that’s what we’re focusing on right now, and really where we’re focusing is on day to day operations of these systems.”

As an illustration of the problem that JLizard aims to fix, Trevor gives a simple example of a large company with a critical IT infrastructure trying to manage log data manually, a daunting prospect.

“Any large organisation, say with over 1,000 employees, is producing terabytes of log data per month. That equates to about 100,000 events per second in your logs, so if someone has to manually open a log file of that size, they can’t because they’re so big. Then they have to gather them, correlate them, and trace through them, so it’s almost impossible to identify trends or particular events in that data unless you’re actually using a log management solution.”

The technology has three main identifiable use cases. The first is the predictive element, whereby through close, and real-time monitoring of a system’s logs, the technology can predict a potential crash before it happens, preventing system downtime, which Trevor describes as, “a huge cost saver for companies.”

“If you’re Amazon.com and you’ve a huge amount of online transactions, as soon as your system goes down, your shopfront is closed, you’re losing money.”

The other main use case is for situations where something does go wrong with the system. If it is not possible to predict and prevent downtime, the next priority is to resolve the problem as soon as it arises. In a large enterprise system, the collation and analysis of all the data across many different software elements presents a significant barrier to a swift diagnosis and resolution of the problem. Logentries will, says Trevor, speed up this process.

“Instead of having to grab log data from different systems across their whole IT infrastructure, they can simply use a real time monitoring solution and actually visualise in real time. So if there is a problem they can go immediately to their log data and they have a much more coherent view of that so they can very quickly diagnose the issue.”

The final area in which Logentries can be used is one that the JLizard team, “didn’t really design it for.”

“A lot of people are using it from a business perspective, where they’re trying to understand what’s happening in their system rather than just trying to just keep their system up. They’re trying to understand how many transactions they did today, or how many failed registrations did this system have today? So they’re using it from an almost business operations perspective to try and understand the types of activity happening in their system as well.”

JLizard is currently resident in NovaUCD’s incubation centre and has previously participated in the National Digital Research Centre’s LaunchPad programme, which Trevor describes as, “really, really useful”.

As JLizard takes Logentries out of private beta, and launches to market, the connections made through NovaUCD have proven invaluable.

“[At NovaUCD] you’re opening yourself up to a community in terms of customers, and even by talking to the different guys in here, you usually find a lot of leads out there, rather than being stuck in an office somewhere where you’re removed from that sort of environment.”

Having trialled the product with a number of large multinationals over the past twelve months, and gotten, “some really good feedback from some really big companies,” JLizard has begun to convert some of these trials into customers. Logentries is now available under a software as a service model, bringing years of research to commercial fruition.

Stephen Howell: Using Scratch with Kinect for Education

Scratch is a programming language developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab. The aim is to have children (and, of course, adults) be able to develop games and create animations, art and music using software. In doing so the hope is to increase the reasoning and creative ability of the user.

Stephen Howell, a computer science lecturer, has combined the accessibility of Scratch with the widespread availability of the Microsoft Kinect to allow children to physically interact with a software program without having to touch the screen, the keyboard or a mouse.

The aim is to make learning mathematics and other subjects fun and accessible. Users can interact with the educational software simply by moving part or all of their bodies.

According to Stephen, “The really good thing is the kids can program the games themselves. They don’t have to know anything about the hardware or the maths behind it. All they have to know is that the head is here, the hands are here and the feet are here. Now what do you want to do with that?

“I created this because I wanted schools to interact with the Kinect which is an amazing piece of kit. It has a 3D camera, microphone and sound recognition…But what would be really great is getting the kids to program it. There’s no point me being able to program it. I’ll just make some boring program.

“But a kid can think, ‘Wow, I can make a racing car program. If I jump left and right it can dodge something.’ We won’t think of that but a kid will.

“We do need more evangelism for Scratch. We do need more people saying this is a fantastic tool to teach and learn programming.”

Wilbour Craddock of Microsoft Ireland on the Making of an Architect Evangelist

On a recent visit to Microsoft Ireland at their headquarters in Sandyford, Dublin we made a series of interviews with Josh Holmes, Enda Flynn and Wilbour Craddock. While speaking to Wilbour for a few moments between demonstrations I asked him how he managed to get such an interesting job at Microsoft as an Architect Evangelist.

What does an Architect Evangelist do?

My job as an architect evangelist is to go out and talk to people about the possibilities technology provides to solve problems, whether those problems are business problems or consumer problems or not necessarily problems but looking to become more efficient.

Resolve how people interact, that’s what my job is, its just to have those conversations and really make people think about the possibility that technology provides. And then based on that, it’s not a product it’s a concept, and then from that we build off a solution, and the solution is what we’re trying to achieve.

How did you get your job?

I sought out this job. Five years ago, I made a choice to become an evangelist, and I’ve worked for the past five years to find a path that would get me to that role. This is what I wanted to do. The job is made up of consumption, you consume as much technology as you can, ours and competitive technologies, to see where people are using technology, what new pieces are coming into the market, and then how those two can be melded together to build solutions.

Then it’s disseminate; go out and talk to as many people as possible about that potential, and try to excite people into creating these new solutions that are utilising all these great technologies to keep things advancing.

What excites you about the work you do?

What doesn’t excite me?! To be honest, I live in a pretty digital world. Everything that’s evolving that we see in today’s world is stuff that we are excited by, whether it’s social media, whether it’s the prevalence of online services, hardware technology, the next evolution, the next wave, the convergence of technology where you start to see the cellular space, and the smartphone space, and the tablet space, and the laptop and the desktop being converged into single devices; that excites me.

It’s the potential that it provides, that’s what really excites me. How can these things radically change the way that my kids interact? Why do my kids’ book bags have to weigh 50 pounds when they drag them to school every day? Technology avails of us a way of solving that problem. Those are the things that excite me.

What skills do you need to be an Architect Evangelist?

You figure out what it is that is important about this job. The big parts of this job are, being able to stand up on a stage and expel a story, so a commanding presence, so you have to be good at that component. Parts of it are going to be digesting that information, and also having vision; you have to be able to take in all of these components and see the wider picture and say, “well here’s the potential and here’s the opportunity”, so you’re doing a lot of market research type stuff, you’re consuming as much information as you can on a daily basis.

People are amazed by my inbox on a daily basis is probably between 1600 and 2400 pieces of information whether it’s rss feeds whether it’s internal emails, or whether it’s internal product discussions about specific technologies or next generation technologies. So, that’s a lot of information that you’re digesting on a daily basis. That’s what’s going to get you to be able to go out and have those conversations because you are able to speak with a fairly authoritative answer on how the industry is evolving, and how technology is evolving and how people are consuming that.

Can you describe the path you took to get where you are now?

So, the more conversations you have with people, the better, and then as I look at the path that I went through to get here, it started by doing a lot of community involvement, getting out and speaking in my community, getting out and working with user groups, talking to as many people who are using technology as possible, which then led to what Microsoft call an MVP or Most Valued Professional, which is a programme to foster people globally, there’s about 5,000 of them, who are product experts in any given area, and build out a community of people that are having these conversations with people, and from that then, it’s a path.

You get yourself recognised by Microsoft, you work with Microsoft and then you start to look at how you can get in.

From a research perspective, Guy Kawasaki was the first evangelist in the industry. Today he is a social media vanguard in terms of how he uses Twitter and Facebook and all the other social media services to share information, and he’s sought after, he’s got ten books in the market, he speaks on a regular basis.

You follow the guys that are vanguards in the role and see the successes and the failures and do what you can to succeed. It’s like any other job, I mean if you want to be something, you research it and search it out and you set a plan in action to do it.

18 Hour Open Data Challenge at Digital Hub

Since the EU adopted the directive concerning the Reuse of Public Sector Information, local authorities across Europe have attempted with varying degrees of success to comply with rules that are intended to allow companies to exploit the value of public sector data to contribute to economic growth.

An undoubted leader in this field is Fingal Council in Ireland.

Since the fall of 2010 alone, they have released over 70 datasets.

Many of these were made available for the Open Data Challenge. This was an 18-hour event instigated by the Irish Internet Association and organised by the NDRC. It took place at the Digital Hub in Dublin.

Dr. Teresa Dillon and her team created an environment for over 120 people to come together and assemble themselves into ad-hoc teams to take on the challenge.

In her opening remarks Teresa said that, “There is an essential need for transparency and accountability from our governments. We also have the right to know how and where our tax money is spent.

“We think this area is so exciting because there is the potential for products and services that can draw on and use this data.”

Participants were distributed across tables according to their skillsets.

After briefings from the organizers, the teams discussed the potential ideas that could be had from the datasets that had been provided. These included such areas as water, environment and waste data information.

As evening approached, good ideas were voted in, and bad ideas were voted out and were unceremoniously removed from the workspace walls.

On the second day the focus was on creating a commercially-valid product.

The ultimate winner of the competition was a team called Bizfit consisting of (L-R) Mark Kearns, judging panel, NDRC, Conor Calahane, Robb Mitchell, Annette Farrell, Gary Leeson, Udo Reubach and Sandra Garcia. (Main banner pic by Ian Pearse.)

The idea was for a website that uses demographic and other open source data to match
a business with its optimum location.

Dr. Teresa Dillon commented, “It’s clear that with the right tools and freer access to data, there is the potential for ideas-led business growth. We hope an initiative such as this, sends a message to other Councils and Government bodies that open data is a resource and as such it has economic potential.”

Pat Phelan: Cubic Telecom Receives €500k Funding from Enterprise Ireland

Cubic Telecom, the company whose Maxroam SIM product provides low-cost data roaming, has received funding of €500,000 from Enterprise Ireland. Cork entrepreneur Pat Phelan is the founder of Cubic Telecom, and says while securing the funding is the most important thing, to have the backing of a governmental agency is, “really quite incredible,” and a realisation of a, “crazy dream.”

“Enterprise Ireland have been an excellent backer of Cubic since the very start. That level of support is very encouraging from a governmental body.

“One of the major strengths of Enterprise Ireland that people forget about is the strength of their global offices and it’s something that we in Cubic concentrate on quite a lot. We’ve an excellent relationship with their offices in Brazil, Australia, Germany, the UK, and David Smith in Palo Alto. For the companies that we speak to, when they hear that the Irish government is involved, it brings a lot of kudos.”

Pat explains that this latest funding will allow Cubic to expand its global operations and enable its technical growth, “to speed up exponentially.”

Cubic already has a number of partnerships globally in Australia, the US, the UK, Israel and Slovakia, and Pat aims to expand upon these in the coming months.

“We have very successful partners trading at the moment. Some of those trade as an actual partner and some of them would trade as a white label partner so they could be selling very successfully in their market in, say, Israel and people wouldn’t even know that Maxroam were behind them.

“Maxroam’s future is data. We’re a data-driven company. People think we’re in the roaming business, but we’re actually a connected devices business. We have a custom built platform, built and designed in Ireland, that can connect not only SIM cards but multiple devices.

“We feel the area to promote is the data side of the business and we see an unlimited requirement for data connectivity globally.”

A US office is also in the pipeline, with Cubic, “undecided” between New York and Palo Alto, while further jobs may be created elsewhere overseas.

“We’ve already created between ten and twelve jobs; we think we’ll create somewhere between five and ten more in 2011. We have large opportunities in Asia and in Australia so this will enable us to bring about local representation and it will enable our technical growth to speed up exponentially.”

Pat is quick to acknowledge the role played by others in getting Cubic Telecom to the point of securing this funding, simply stating, “It’s just the team, you know?”

“We’ve the original team. It’s all about the people, it’s all about the guys who were with me from the start, and it’s all about our shareholders who believed in Pat Phelan, and believed in this crazy dream. Now it’s a reality and now it’s a rapidly growing business; we’re multiplying month on month.”

With some estimating that data roaming could become a $66 billion industry by 2016, Pat is ebullient about the potential for growth in this sector, “we hope to play our part in that growth.”

Co-written with Conor Harrington

Mcor Technologies Scaling up with Investment from Wilde Angels Fund

Mcor Technologies has recently received a $1 million investment from the Wilde Angels investment fund. They are an angel investment fund headed up by John Hartnett, President of the Irish Technology Leadership Group and includes investors from Cisco, Apple and Intel amongst others.

Conor MacCormack is one of the founders of Mcor Technologies which is based in Ardee, County Louth which is just a short drive north of Dublin. Conor, along with his brother Fintan, had always wanted to create something.

“We were always going to make something. A physical object was going to come out of it. We always had this idea that we wanted to make a change. If people could walk in off the street and have their object printed up that would be brilliant.

Traditional 3D printing is very expensive. “We not only wanted to make a machine, we wanted to make a difference.”

The key to making 3D printing accessible to the general public is in the use of A4 sheets of paper layered upon each other and sculpted by the machine.

“We thought that getting a 3D printer to work with A4 sheets of paper would be a brilliant idea.”
That decision presented its own challenges as they had to be able to glue the layers together without blistering the paper. As additional advantage to this process is that the glue used is non-toxic and completely safe to both use and to dispose.

“We are expanding and getting bigger and bigger and this [Wilde Angels] investment will enable us to really scale up and to grow to the potential that we think this market can grow to. We’ve had a global demand for our product for a long time but we couldn’t really service that.”

Software is a crucial aspect to Mcor’s work but with a machine that has over 1,800 parts the evident downside to manufacturing is that it takes time.

“What kept us going is that when we came out with the concept of the machine in 2008 was having that big hit on our website.” When they released some information on their ongoing work on to the internet they had over 2 million hits in ten days and had to switch to a bigger web hosting service.

“Up until that point it had all been in our own heads but until you test the market you don’t really know. But after that we realised a lot of people share in what we believe and that is what drove us on to get this machine working. People are going to want to use it.

“The fact that we are selling all over the place already and we are just a small organisation means that we really are global right out of the block.”

Skyping on Facebook

The early adoption crowd has been waiting all week for Mark Zuckerberg’s “awesome” announcement, which the Facebook founder promised during a visit to the company’s Seattle office last week. Admittedly, in Zuckerberg’s vernacular, the word awesome doesn’t carry quite the same weight as it does for the rest of us, but thankfully, today’s announcement didn’t constitute a description of the billionaire’s breakfast, but rather the not entirely unexpected launch of Facebook’s incorporation of VoIP service Skype into its interface as Facebook video chat.

For the privacy conscious among us, the revelation that Facebook still makes announcements may have come as something of a surprise, given the relative stealth with which it has introduced recent features such as automatic face recognition, but today was all about positive stories for Facebook.

Although talk of the social media giant’s demise may be premature, the amount of Buzz (pun intended) generated by Google+ over the past week will have worried Zuckerberg despite the fact that a profile attributed to him is the most followed on Google+.

Google Hangout, which allows for up to ten friends to chat at once, would likely have had Skype running scared as it was, so pairing its 170 million users with Facebook’s now-confirmed 750 million users makes sense for Microsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition as well as helping Facebook keep pace with Google in the social media stakes.

However, while Facebook has incorporated group chats into its text chat feature, Facebook video chat remains a one-to-one video chat feature, just like Skype. The process is clean and relatively hassle-free; no external Skype account is needed, and one user with the video chat plug in can call another without it, at which point the recipient will be prompted to install the plug in.

One concern that Facebook will have is that the outages which have dogged Skype in the past couple of months will not blight Facebook’s video chat; such downtime may result in users defecting to Google, never to return, however Skype CEO Tony Bates assured the assembled press at today’s launch that, “the technology is tough”.

Zuckerberg said at today’s launch that while he wouldn’t rule out group video calling in the future, possibly as a paid, premium feature, he, “wouldn’t undersell the importance of today”, which he described as “symbolic of the way [Facebook] are going to do things, which is a focus on Facebook providing a social infrastructure, and outsourcing the creation of apps to independent entrepreneurs whom he described as, “best in class”.

This seems to be a deliberate tactic to not go toe to toe with Google, who can, it seems, create any app that Facebook can, only better, as evinced by their already rolled-out group chat.

Rather, Facebook seems content to rely on the fact that it has 750 million and growing members, and that companies that have not as yet embraced social media will come to them with apps, “Companies that are best in class are thinking about “how are we going to offer our product in a social way?””

Zuckerberg is clearly hoping that these companies, of whom he cited Netflix as a potential example, will seek safety in numbers and choose Facebook as their social platform of choice.

Professor William Gallagher: Making his Mark in the Fight Against Cancer

Professor William Gallagher

Professor William Gallagher is a cancer researcher at University College Dublin, and also the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of OncoMark, a Dublin based company which
specialises in the development and application of biomarker panels to support the development of cancer drugs.

Professor Gallagher this week received the NovaUCD 2011 Innovation Award from UCD President, Dr. Hugh Brady.

Referring to the award, Professor Gallagher said, “it’s very important because I suppose it is recognition within academia of the translation of research findings into something that’s of economic or societal benefit”.

“If you look at the way research within academia is sometimes criticised, I suppose we’re a bit like an ivory tower in that we just work on things just for our own interest. I’ve never been like that, I always have had an end goal in mind. It has to solve a problem. It has to solve either a commercial problem or a clinical endpoint; it has to be of some use to people.”

Professor Gallagher admits that commercialisation of research has in the past been frowned upon within academia, but thankfully it has, “become more important”, and it is the formation of a company to commercialise the results of his research which he lists as his, “proudest achievement so far”.

That company, OncoMark, currently employs twelve people, a figure which Professor Gallagher hopes to see double in the next year.

The work of OncoMark is in trying to understand and curtail or more accurately treat the spread of tumours in the body.

“What kills 90% of cancer patients is the spreading of this cancer around different parts of the body; for example, the bone, the brain or the lungs; and then damaging those tissues. And so what we’ve been doing for the last 15 years is trying to understand what are the biological factors involved in contributing to that spreading event.

“What we try to do is translate that information into new diagnostic products that can maybe predict this event in patients, and probably more pressingly, can we do something about it, can we actually predict what are the appropriate drugs to give that patient?

“For example, we know that for the average cancer patient it costs about half a million euro to treat a person from start to finish. A lot of times the drugs that they get are pretty ineffective and we just don’t know currently how to put people in different sub-groups so we can give them the most appropriate treatment. So what we try and do is find markers in the actual cancer tissue that we can predict up front what will be the most appropriate kind of treatment or can we predict the outcome of the patient.”

OncoMark has developed, “a variety of different technologies”, but its most recent development is IHC-MARK, a computer vision product.

“We take a standard piece of tissue that a pathologist would look at down a microscope slide and we digitise that using a scanning system and then we’ve developed computational tools and image analysis tools that can automatically analyse that tissue and determine the levels of an particular marker of interest so that can predict an appropriate drug response.”

OncoMark is in the “latter stages of licensing the technology”, which was developed within UCD, and Professor Gallagher is confident that he and his team have, “created something that will hopefully be a commercial success over time”, and can join the ranks of previous winners of the NovaUCD Innovation award who, he says, have been, “key innovators within the university”.

“They’ve spun out technology, they’ve grown companies to a large size, and created employment for individuals, so I suppose within this kind of context I’m happy that I’ve been recognised as being part of that group of individuals.”

Advertisers Leave News of the World after Twitter Campaign [VIDEO]

In response to the allegations that the News of the World newspaper has been illegally hacking phones, including those of a missing girls who was later found murdered, advertisers are withdrawing their campaigns from the paper.

Ford and numerous others have left and Proctor& Gamble have said they are reviewing the situation. Mitsubishi have said that they are going to donate the money that they would have normally spent on their now withdrawn campaign to the charity Childline.

The campaign was begun by Melissa Harrington, a freelance writer from her Twitter account @the_Z_factor. She said, “The only way to show the company how people really felt was by hitting them where it hurts: their wallets. And while I didn’t think I could reach their regular readers to ask them not to buy the paper, I realised who I could influence, with a following wind and enough people behind me: their advertisers.”