Startup readies server mgmgt. pack

The startup founded by former BEA Systems Inc. chief executive Bill Coleman and a dream team assembled from Sun Microsystems Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp. executives is expected next week to unveil its first product: software that’s designed to let users manage multiple Linux and Windows servers as if they were a single system.

The company, Cassatt Corp., will roll out Collage, a package that tackles server management, provisioning and load balancing. With its Controller management module running on a Linux box, Collage works by discovering and inventorying a company’s servers and then organizing those servers in tiers. It creates a set of operating system and application images, and deploys these images to the servers.

Two IT trends make the timing ripe for Collage – a proliferation of commodity servers and storage devices in the data center, and a migration from monolithic applications to loosely coupled applications built for service-oriented architectures, Coleman says.

Cassatt will enter a crowded market. Industry stalwarts such as IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Sun, and specialists including BladeLogic Inc., Egenera Inc. and Opsware Inc., all are working on tools to more easily manage multiple servers and various platforms.

What Collage provides is a scalable way to manage all these resources without adding more complexity, Coleman says.

Cassatt came out of Unlimited Scale, a vendor that made Linux-based server-clustering technology. Warburg Pincus asked Coleman to examine the vendor’s technology, then the venture capital firm bought Unlimited Scale, and Coleman took the helm of the new company.

Coleman’s executive team hailed from Cray Research, Microsoft, Novell Inc., Oracle and Sun. Coleman and company convinced 19 Sun engineers working on a remote distributed management console for Sun’s N1 initiative to defect from Sun as a team. Another big hire was the federal government’s former e-government czar, Mark Forman, who is Cassatt’s executive vice president of services.

Usability was an important design consideration for Collage, says Rich Green, executive vice president of product development at Cassatt and a former vice president of developer platforms at Sun. Collage doesn’t require changes to a company’s IT infrastructure – applications, operating systems, system management software, hardware and networks can remain intact, Green says.

That same technology benefits Collage’s provisioning prowess, speeding the time it takes to add a new machine, re-provision an existing machine, or detect and replace a failed machine, Green says.

Another important element is Cassatt’s database system, which uses virtualization technology to keep data stored separately from applications yet accessed as if it were local.

Pricing starts at US$25,000 for the Collage Controller management software, which administers and distributes software to each server, plus US$1,500 per managed server.

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