December 10, 2006 9:00 PM PST

Cassatt management tools take on Xen, networking

Cassatt, a start-up selling software geared to automate how a multitude of applications run on a multitude of servers, has expanded its domain a little.

The company plans to announce Monday that its Collage software now can govern two new elements of the data center: virtual machines running on the Xen, and XenSource hypervisors and virtual networks set up on a variety of network hardware.

Cassatt's software monitors applications and makes sure they meet required service levels. If an application isn't up to snuff, it can be moved to more powerful servers or, if it's running on a virtual machine that's sharing hardware with other partitions on a server, it can be assigned more resources.

Cassatt Chief Executive Bill Coleman--the former chief of BEA Systems--acknowledges it's hard to get customers to adopt a new method of managing their data centers, because individuals from different parts of the company must be brought on board. But Cassatt, which has an increasing proportion of its 100 employees in sales, is taking a methodical approach to winning customers over, he said.

The company starts by selling its software for use in a new project, then tries to advance to new versions of existing projects, eventually expanding from there, he said. "Nobody does forklift changes of entire enterprises. It's more of a migration," Coleman said.

He also expects get peer pressure on his side.

"We have about 10 customers in the pipeline, who are moving forward toward production, that are the names in a number of industries," Coleman said. "You've got to get about 5 of those publicly referenceable before everybody else goes, 'Now I get it, and I'd better look at it.' That's my goal between now and next summer."

After that will come broader adoption, he predicted. "During 2007, this market will gain enough recognition that I can begin to scale sales like crazy. Calendar 2008 will be the large enterprise ramp in adoption. It'll be calendar 2009 before this really starts to hit the inflection point," Coleman said.

Cassatt's software already can manage virtual machines using the most popular x86 virtualization software: VMware, from the eponymous EMC subsidiary. Cassatt's latest also can handle VMware's new ESX Server version 3, the company said. It had hoped to add support for open-source competitor Xen in June, and said the delay was due to technical difficulties at the virtualization project.

In addition, Cassatt's software now can control VLANs, or virtual local area networks, set up on switches from Cisco Systems, Dell, Extreme Networks and Nortel Networks, the company said. That means that Cassat-controlled systems can be moved automatically from one networking domain to another--for example, from a test and development domain to a production domain.

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