Today at the MongoDB conference, United Kingdom-based server monitoring startup ServerDensity launched an app store for plugins to its popular cloud-based service. It’s a growing trend we should see more of as SaaS startups look to address the long-tail needs of certain customer segments without expanding the core product too much and risk becoming as cumbersome as the legacy applications they’re looking to replace.
ServerDensity Founder David Mytton told me the company’s user base is growing fast, including among large companies such as Intel, Motorola and the New York Times, and it’s difficult to keep up with all the customer requests while still focusing on improving the core product and user interface. This results in many users developing their own plugins to address their own unique issues, and Mytton hopes they’ll contribute them to the new app store and improve the collective capabilities of ServerDensity entire user base.
In order to spur contributions, ServerDensity will let developers charge for their plugins. Although Mytton acknowledges that the income potential is limited because there aren’t hundreds of millions of potential users as with the Apple App Store or the Android Marketplace, he thinks the possibility of making some money from work they’ve already done will inspire enthusiasm among developers. Additionally, he hopes that putting their names and price tags on plugins will make contributors want to put in the extra effort to polish them and make them work as well as possible for purchasers. ServerDensity also will offer some free plugins that it developed itself.
ServerDensity is hosted on the Terremark Enterprise Cloud and comes in both free and paid versions. The paid version includes support more servers and a variety of alerts, as well as both iPhone and Android apps so systems administrators can monitor servers on the go. ServerDensity also monitors performance of MongoDB database deployments.
Its competition in the cloud-based server monitoring space includes startups such as Scout and Cloudkick (which is now part of Rackspace), as well as products such as VMware’s Hyperic, CA’s Nimsoft and Amazon Web Services’ CloudWatch. Mytton said ServerDensity has plans to evolve the product to better meet the needs of larger customers and might get into server management, which would make it more directly competitive with the latter group in the long run.
ServerDensity is just one example of how pretty much every IT process is now available as a cloud service, a topic that will underpin almost every discussion at our upcoming Structure 2011 conference. What began as cloud-based servers and storage has expanded to include application platforms, runtimes and just about every application of which one could think, and the trend shows no signs of slowing down.