LeanSentry diagnoses your Microsoft web applications for you

"Hey, you there? The site isn't loading, and we have no ***** idea whats happening, can you help???"

    -A post-launch IM from a client

We've spent the last 5 years helping our clients build better websites on the Microsoft web platform ... and bailing them out when they got in trouble. Eventually we got sick of logging into servers to debug IIS problems with appcmd, EventLog, windbg, and logparser. So we built LeanSentry. After 2 years in dev and 1 year in limited preview, we are now open to everyone who runs Microsoft web apps!

What is LeanSentry?

It is a realtime diagnostic service for web applications on the Microsoft web platform.

LeanSentry uses expert troubleshooting techniques to automatically solve common errors and performance problems for production IIS/ASP.NET apps, so you don't have to waste time doing it.

Why did you build it?

We built LeanSentry after years of helping developers and ops of both large and small web apps work through the same issues over and over. Application bugs, crashes, hangs, slow requests, performance regressions. You know, all the stuff that takes up most of your precious time when running production apps, preventing you from focusing on actually building your product.

And even though we helped build the IIS/ASP.NET platform, we often found it challenging to solve these problems ourselves given the realities of limited access, missing data, and complexity of the web stack.

We realized that this is a job software should handle. So, we set out to build a service that:

Compiles a 24x7 record of what happens in production. Including traffic, resource utilization, IIS and .NET health, and application data detailed enough to spot and diagnose problems no matter when or how often they happen.
Has very low impact. To catch no-repro issues, we have to collect data all the time. Noone likes a monitoring tool that creates more problems than it solves, especially in production. Meaning, no debuggers, no profilers, and no heavy APM tools that load code into the application and slow it down / crash it.
Correlates all the different events together so we can figure out the story later. Applications and the Windows server web stack generate a lot of data, but most of it is not enough to diagnose a problem from start to finish. We needed to piece together the complete picture between server resource utilization, IIS request logs, application errors, and so on.
Diagnoses problems automatically as much as possible, so you don't have to. Making sense of production data is hard and time consuming, even if you are a seasoned IIS expert (or even Microsoft support for that matter). And most people who run web applications have other things to do than spend a day digging through logs.
Is fast to deploy and easy to use. We got sick of reading articles like this one which state that most companies don’t implement APM tools because they require too much training and create too much complexity. Seriously? We thought the whole point was to reduce complexity, not create it. We wanted a to make something that you can deploy in 2 minutes to your servers or the cloud, and a user experience that hugely simplifies your life as opposed to complicating it.

Ok, so how does it work?

It works like this:

Step 1: You download a small monitoring service to install in your environment.

Our wizard walks you through the few steps you need depending on your environment (e.g. Windows Azure, Amazon EC2, or a dedicated server).

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We built the monitoring service so it could run on a separate VM in your environment, and be completely sandboxed away from your production servers.

This means virtually 0 impact on your production systems AND no third party software to install on them.

Once installed, the LeanSentry Monitoring service begins to monitor your servers using a variety of time-tested Windows Server protocols, including IIS log files, currently executing requests, Event Logs, Performance Counters, and so on.

Step 2: Minutes later, you can see your data in the LeanSentry dashboard.
Immediately, you get a complete picture of your servers and application, including every request served, every error, every URL, every server.

We intentionally kept things simple at the top level, so you can decide quickly to dive in or not. But once you do, the gory details are at most 2 clicks away.

LeanSentry dashboard: See every slow and failed request, URL, error, and server.
Step 3: LeanSentry begins to send you alerts / expert insights.

We'll alert you about any problems in your application, AND periodically send you suggestions for how to improve your application health and performance.

LeanSentry continually analyzes your application and suggests best practices to make them work better!

Together with automatic problem troubleshooters, the insight emails help us shift the troubleshooting burden from you, and let you focus more on improving your application with our guidance.

Making it accessible to everyone …

When we started, our vision was to create a service that everyone on the Microsoft platform will use to spend less time troubleshooting, and more time building better apps. So, we set out to make this service affordable to everyone, whether you are running a 100 server megasite or hosting a hobby website in your garage.

To do this, we worked hard to build a very efficient data processing architecture on top of Windows Azure that brings our costs down while allowing us to crunch and store tons of troubleshooting data.

Bottom line, we wanted to make LeanSentry a no-brainer decision. Our math goes like this: if you work in OPs, and we saved you even 5 minutes a day of hunting for some logfiles, you already paid for LeanSentry (now, we think we’ll be saving you close to 2-3 hours a day).

Right now, we are also offering a great launch discount AND giving the Advanced version of LeanSentry (the one that automatically diagnoses the problems for you) for free for 2 months.

So come try it out, and think about what you will do with your free 3 hours a day.

Go check out our totally live demo, and set up your free trial to see what LeanSentry will give you in your own application.


Mike Volodarsky and the LeanSentry Team