Software vendor Cassatt in rough shape, bankruptcy possible, report says

Cassatt founded in 2003 to manage virtual resources in the data center

Software maker Cassatt, founded in 2003 to manage virtual resources in the data center, is on the verge of a bankruptcy or sale, according to a report on Forbes.com.  

Cassatt's Active Response technology tackles two of the most pressing issues facing data centers today: how to efficiently use power and how to use virtual servers most effectively. Active Response "pools physical and virtual server resources for the most efficient utilization, and uses policy-driven controls to safely, intelligently, and systematically power servers off when not needed, and on when they are," according to Cassatt.  

But a flagging economy and sales have apparently doomed Cassatt's bid to unseat bigger vendors such as Cisco, HP and IBM. Quoting Cassatt CEO and founder Bill Coleman and anonymous sources, Forbes reports that Cassatt has been shopping itself around to competitors such as Google and Amazon. The Forbes article states that Cassatt's software "would probably be sold in a bankruptcy to one or another major firm."

"I have talked with about a dozen companies, all the usual suspects," Coleman is quoted as saying. "There are one or two possible buyers, and a couple of flickers of interest, but pretty soon I have to think about what's best for my shareholders."

Coleman was unavailable for comment early this week but a spokesperson for Cassatt confirmed that the company has been in talks with other vendors about an acquisition, and that a bankruptcy is possible. In addition to the economy, the "underlying conservatism of IT operations for big end users" has limited the company's success.

"Cassatt customer uptake has been slower than it hoped probably because [we] are advocating new, significant change in IT ops processes and because [we] are a small company," Cassatt said in an e-mailed statement to Network World.

Cassatt officials hope the company will survive in some form, the Cassatt spokesperson said. "We're hoping to get the technology a good home," the company says. "If someone acquires the business or the technology, then yes, absolutely Cassatt will continue in some fashion."

Cassatt reportedly secured about $100 million in funding over its short life span. The company's investors are Warburg Pincus and New Enterprise Associates.

Named after impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, the start-up was featured in Network World's Start-ups to Watch series five years ago. Coleman, who had previously founded BEA Systems and served as vice president of system software at Sun, offered a pitch that seems prescient today given the rise of cloud computing and technologies that bundle large amounts of commodity hardware into flexible computing pools.

"Cassatt's marketing spiel uses more than a few buzzwords -- autonomic computing, service-oriented architecture and grid computing," Network World reported in 2004. "But what really interests the software company is the eventual convergence of these technologies. Cassatt is designing for an IT environment that will emerge over the next decade as more users adopt virtualization technologies, Coleman says. Today, users can begin to scale their IT environments with Linux clusters or blade servers. In a few years, software and hardware will mature enough that utility computing can become practical, he says. The problem is utility computing requires the metering of processing, network and storage capabilities, and the software doesn't exist to do that today, he adds."

"Imagine if we scale the number of hardware components that are operating from a couple of hundred to tens of thousands, and we take the few dozen applications being managed today and break those into tens of thousands of Web services,” Coleman told Network World in 2004. "If all this is really going to happen, then the world needs an operations system, something that takes on most of the manual operation and the real-time administration of this technology, and takes out the need for a human to be in the loop.

Cassatt has more recently adopted the "cloud" buzzword to describe its technology, claiming that its software helps enterprises build private cloud networks. But the cloud management market is a busy one, with major players such as Cisco and VMware claiming to provide the infrastructure needed to build cloud networks. Cassatt reportedly secured 100 customers by early 2007, but it apparently wasn't enough.

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