Replay Solutions launched a new tool for enterprise Java applications in June. I recently discussed the product and concepts around "TiVo for software" with CEO and co-founder Jonathan Lindo.
Q: Where did the "replaying software" concept come from?
Lindo: In 2000, co-founder Jeff Daudel and I were helping to build a company in Silicon Valley with a very complex and ambitious networked application supporting up to millions of users. We had a large group of software testers and an army of beta testers who were great at finding issues. Lots of issues.
As we got closer to our ship date, we found ourselves drowning in a sea of software bugs. We quickly realized that we were spending over half of our time simply trying to reproduce the issues that were being reported. Often, we couldn't even reproduce the bugs that we knew were there. The conditions in which the bugs occurred were simply too random or unique.
Around the same time, TiVo was just hitting the mainstream consumer market and bringing disruptive change to television as a medium.
Jeff and I were both early adopters and big fans of the technology. We thought, what if we could bring this concept to the world of software? If we could simply grab a recording of every software bug, we wouldn't need to worry about the challenges of reproducing bugs anymore!
This was the genesis of the idea for Replay Solutions--and one that we eventually transformed into the company we've built today.
So you took your cue from television, but how do you actually replay software and implement this?
Lindo: The concept of Replay is simple: Record every possible input coming into an application, then feed the same inputs back to the application during replay. Although the concept sounds straightforward, when it comes to multithreaded applications, things get very complex.
ReplayDirector is an "always on" recording technology. We built it from the ground up to be high-performance so that it never slows down or interferes with even the heaviest, most complex development, staging, or production environments.
The end result is that any enterprise application can be recorded at all times. This means that as potentially thousands of users interact with your Web application, everything will be recorded seamlessly and transparently. If an issue occurs that needs to be resolved, such as a software bug, performance issue, or security problem, the recording will have all the data you need.
The best part is that the original environment, databases, and other servers that were running during recording are not required during replay. The recording has captured the original environment and will simulate it with our virtualization technology during playback. This saves our customers enormous amounts of time and effort.
Replay Solutions launched in the game space. Can you tell us about that and some of the customer experiences?
Lindo: We started working with some of the biggest software developers in the game industry, such as Electronic Arts and Microsoft, early on. These environments are some of the most complex, high-performance, real-time environments you can imagine--especially with today's multicore hardware.
A nice feature of the gaming industry is its natural embrace of bleeding-edge technology. ReplayDirector is not an improvement on something that already exists, but rather a radically new approach to an age-old problem. The gaming industry immediately recognized the value that we deliver, and within a very short period, we had teams all over the world saving time by recording and replaying as part of their daily work flows.
The game industry also has very advanced needs because of the zero tolerance for slipping software ship dates. Bugs need to get killed fast. Also, when your application is a game that needs to be executing in real time, you can't use a solution that's going to slow it down, so we knew that tackling gaming would ensure that our technology could handle heavy loads.
We also knew that if we passed the test in gaming, we would easily expand into the enterprise and other software environments. Having achieved success with many of the major players in the game industry using our technology, we were ready to bring our technology to enterprise software teams.
Now that Replay is expanding into the enterprise, what do you plan to do to evangelize the "Replay method" of quality management?
Lindo: Businesses that run software today have recognized the tremendous complexities that have arisen from the new distributed, networked environments in which software runs today. They are feeling the pains of building and managing applications in these environments.
Most often, when we talk about the challenges of quickly identifying and resolving software issues, we're preaching to the choir. Not a lot of evangelizing is necessary!
The most important thing is making sure enterprises understand how fundamentally different Replay Solutions has made issue resolution. Most notably, our application virtualization technology has eliminated up to 80 percent of redundant work flow processes. We are able to record applications and servers at any stage of the application life cycle, and our recordings actually run the applications just as though they were running in the exact same environment in which they were recorded.
The "Replay method" is a substantial improvement to how IT groups build and manage their applications. It has been tested and proven in extremely high-performance, complex environments, including Web applications, and it does its job without interfering with or slowing down the application itself. We believe that this is a strong value proposition for any organization that builds or runs enterprise applications.
Where can we find more information?
Lindo: For a very quick demo, readers should check out our 3-minute video. There is also a lot of good information on the Replay Solutions Web site (http://replaysolutions.com), including information on our most recent release.
Finally, there is a free analyst report by Theresa Lanowitz and Lisa Dronzek.
TiVo is a trademark of TiVo Inc., not Replay Solutions.
Disclosure: Replay Solutions shares an investor with my own company.