Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Sumo Logic, Generating Big Data From Log Files, Lands $30 Million From Accel

When, exactly, was the last time you thought about the log file generated by one of your servers? It was probably when something wasn’t going right and you were trying to troubleshoot some mysterious digital misfire somewhere along a complicated chain of machines.

Managing systems logs is one of the more unglamorous tasks that come with managing IT infrastructure — not that there’s much glamour in the first place — but today is the sort of day when it takes on a cooler sheen.

Today, a fascinating and fast-growing start-up called Sumo Logic announced that it has taken a $30 million Series C round of venture capital funding led by Accel Partners. It is the latest investment by Accel’s Big Data fund, led by partner Ping Li.

The round brings Sumo Logic’s total capital raised to $50.5 million. Prior investors include Greylock Partners — Workday CEO Aneel Bhusri sits on the board — and Sutter Hill Ventures.

Sumo Logic’s approach to handling logs is to treat them like any other big-data problem. It uses cloud-based software to analyze, monitor and visualize data generated by machines in real time. System logs are just another one of those collections of data that used to be considered disposable or difficult to sort through. Sumo aims to make them a key source of insight into how well — or not — IT infrastructure is running.

Sumo often gets mentioned in the same breath as Splunk, the analytics company that specializes in machine-generated data and which had a successful IPO earlier this year. Splunk even spun off a company called Loggly that specializes in log management.

I talked with Sumo Logic’s CEO Vance Loiselle on Monday. He said that companies have been looking for years for a good way to easily make use of their log files. “In the last couple of years, we’ve seen more and more companies are generating tons of log data, but also all kinds of unstructured data,” Loiselle said. “That could be for servers that are or are not running well, or applications that you need to know specific analytic data about its performance, what your customers are using, and what kind of performance they’re seeing.”

Companies have been looking for a way to get ahold of that data and do a deep dive on the patterns that can be found in it, in order to decide if changes need to be made or to see how different parts of the business are performing. Doing that analytics work in the cloud, and thus saving on the purchase of extra storage hardware plus software, is sort of a no-brainer, but up to now that’s how this work has tended to be done.

The company launched only this February. More than 800 companies have tried the free service, and already more than 40 have traded up to the paid service. Among them are Netflix, Ooyala and Limelight Networks.

When you’re rolling out a new application, the last thing you need is some weird error cropping up somewhere in the chain of servers or on the network and getting in the way. Sumo Logic’s engine quickly crunches through the log data and can be used to pinpoint exactly where the problems are so they can be corrected, Loiselle said. It also works with log files generated by virtual machines.

Loiselle said the investment will help the company grow its sales and marketing operation, but also to do some of the heavy lifting needed to build up some new core features. “We need to bring in as many high-caliber inside and outside sales people as we can because the opportunity before us is so big. First we’ll scale up in North America, and then we’ll start thinking about what we’re going to do in Europe.” There’s also a huge need to hire more engineers, he said. “We’ve doubled the size of the engineering team over the last six months, and basically we have to double it again.”

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First the NSA came for, well, jeez pretty much everybody’s data at this point, and I said nothing because wait how does this joke work

— Parker Higgins via Twitter