Viridity Software's new CEO: it's not all about green IT

Network management industry vet focused on optimizing data center resources

New CEO Arun Oberoi doesn't exactly bristle at Viridity Software getting lumped into the Green IT vendor category, but he wants to make sure the Burlington, Mass., company is seen as more than that.

"We're working in the converged world of green IT, a big part of which is saving not just costs but the planet in any which way we can," says Oberoi, most recently head of security/governance company Aveksa. "But the real theme around what we do is finding a way to make the physical realities of the data center more available and optimized so that businesses can become more agile in their business processes."

In other words, extending the flexibility found in virtual/logical networking to the lower end of the IT stack.

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Viridity, which Network World named as one of its 10 start-ups to watch in 2010, has indeed proven to be worth watching. In March, the company launched its first tool, called EnergyCenter, which is designed to give organizations a much better feel for how much power their IT gear is using and how to most efficiently set things up  (The software features discovery, mapping, monitoring and reporting capabilities.). Viridity then released an even simpler tool called EnergyCheck during the fall.  What's more, Viridity added $8 million in venture funding to its coffers over the summer (it raised $7 million in Round A funding).

Viridity also named IT security industry veteran Robert Steinkrauss as its CEO over the summer, but he recently resigned due to health concerns.

That's where Oberoi and his substantial body of work in the network and systems management industry comes in. Oberoi's resume includes stints at Micromuse, IBM Tivoli and HP, where he oversaw OpenView as a marketing and sales VP.

So it's no surprise that Oberoi emphasizes Viridity's role in data center management beyond green IT despite the fact that the company's very name oozes of greenness. He adds that green IT is often a bigger focus for organizations in parts of Europe – due to regulations in place there -- than it is in the United States.

"IT has done a very good job in terms of virtualizing apps and making them reusable and extensible, and as you get deeper into the IT stack into the server and storage layers all that can be very well virtualized," he says. "But starting at the network layer, which can also be very well virtualized, things things start to get rigid. And if you go a layer below that, the physics of cooling and energy and space, that's all doubly rigid."

Viridity's software gives IT shops (including the facilities people they are increasingly working with) insight into their virtualized and non-virtualized assets, mainly starting with servers since they are "the biggest culprits in terms of power usage," Oberoi says. As Viridity expands its product portfolio in 2011, however, expect the company to more directly address areas such as storage and network switches (especially director class models). However, a big theme will be enabling customers to gain a view across data center assets, such as to identify associated network links and available ports when provisioning a bunch of new servers.

Who exactly are these customers? Viridity has been coy about revealing them, citing the laborious process of getting permission from customers to talk.

But given that this market is becoming ever more crowded, Viridity will be forced to share its success stories soon enough. The market is bubbling with relatively new vendors such as Sentilla and Power Assure, and attracting the attention of the industry's biggest players, from Cisco to IBM to HP

Oberoi says he suspects that Viridity and other newer companies will still have a chance to mature their products and expand their business footprints before industry consolidation really takes hold.  His goal is to have Viridity bridge the gap between what the traditional higher level IT management companies offer and what the those companies more down in the power management weeds deliver.

"It's a very static world when you get lower in the stack," he says.

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