When Jordan Jacobs was a teenager he started a web hosting company. It was doing well until he was managing around 40 servers. At this point, he started spending most of his time managing servers instead of talking to customers. “I spent so much of my time just keeping the lights on – just little stuff,” he said. For instance, he’d have to update a new patch on each server, or a new employee would have to have an account setup on each server. “Those little things became my entire life,” Jacobs said.
Jacobs, who’s now VP of products at cloud provider SingleHop, has led the development of a solution that would have made his younger self very happy.
It’s called Actionable Intelligence or “AI”, and it’s SingleHop’s free SaaS-based platform for remotely monitoring, managing, and patching servers and operating systems no matter where they are hosted. SingleHop is now accepting applicants for an early 2016 Beta of AI.
For instance, AI automates patching 100 servers by hand. It also simplifies troubleshooting by aggregating data from disparate server environments (including ServerHop’s 10,000 monthly support tickets) into a unified portal that suggests next steps for IT staff to take. These features allow staff to act immediately and spend less time on routine and repetitive tasks, and more time on new projects.
AI grew out of SingleHop’s tool for managing Windows virtual machines in Azure it launched earlier this year that gave SingleHop new capabilities around managing VMs. Based on the positive response, SingleHop went about creating similar functionality for Linux, AWS, and any server or cloud service. And instead instead of tying it into the SingleHop control panel, SingleHop built a brand new interface for it from the ground up.
The resultant software is easily installed. Jacobs explained, “It couldn’t be simpler – copy and paste a snippet of code and execute on the server, we download and install our tools on the server itself and it forms a direct encrypted connection back to our software.”
Web hosts can easily include the code in their post-install template startup scripts whenever a new VM is created to ensure it is installed on each customer instance.
Because AI is free and not tied to any particular technology stack, Jacobs anticipates that people will share their error messages, creating a repository of common errors and how to handle them. SingleHop itself also has a full-time staff member parsing SingleHop’s most common support requests to build in action items around troubleshooting incidents found at SingleHop.
Being on the server itself as the controlling application, AI is also in an excellent position to troubleshoot different errors. Jacobs said, “We can test the network, and the server itself. The server can send test data to me to test outbound connections. [Within AI] I have every single thing that an administrator could possibly do or test.”
He said that the real value of AI’s management capabilities is that “IT will spend less time just keeping the lights on,” freeing them to do things that grow their business.
And this applies for teenage web hosts as much as enterprises. “The same tool that I would have used as a small hosting company with 4 or 5 servers is the same tool that we will use to manage and maintain an enterprise with 400 servers,” he said.