10 IT management software companies to watch

Newcomers take on applications, desktops, security, storage, systems and virtualization management

10 that address everything from applications to security to storage management.

Akorri

Founded: January 2005

Headquarters: Littleton, Mass.

Management: CEO Rich Corley, previously founded storage-network vendor Pirus Networks, which Sun bought in 2002; also served as Nortel’s director of advanced technology.

Funding: $8.5 million in February 2005 from Matrix Partners, North Bridge Venture Partners and BlueStream Ventures; $15 million in April 2006 from Matrix and North Bridge; and $15 million in September 2007 from the original three investors, plus Globespan Capital Partners.

What company offers: BalancePoint software suite collects information about using server and storage resources, and analyzes it to determine how well applications will perform under various conditions.

Why it’s worth watching: "Akori is taking an IT service life-cycle approach to storage. The company really looks at storage in relation to application utilization to drive up more of a service orientation," says Stephen Elliot, a research manager covering enterprise system management at IDC. "The company has a very good vision. It's about the application service and storage utilization -- not about storage as an island."

Where company got its name: From Kauri tree of New Zealand.

Customers: CareGroup Heathcare Systems, Monster.com, Northeastern University and John Hancock are among those listed.

Aternity (formerly Gelion Networks)

Founded: September 2004

Headquarters: Westborough, Mass.

Management: President and CEO Trevor Matz, most recently worldwide managing director of application integration for InterSystems.

Funding: $7.5 million in July 2005 from Vertex Venture Capital, Genesis Partners, Clal Industries and Investments, and Portview Communications; and $5 million in May 2007 led by Intel Capital and existing investors.

What company offers: Frontline Performance Intelligence platform measures application performance from the user perspective, letting IT and business managers know when performance slowdowns are because of IT or the business itself. The software lets companies make priorities and plan applications based on user experience.

What it’s worth watching: "The ultimate judge of IT and business alignment is the user: If alignment is view as conformity to user expectations in terms of availability, performance, usability and accuracy, then monitoring user experience is the only way IT knows that it is meeting these expectations," writes Jean-Pierre Garbani, a vice president at Forrester Research, in a June 2007 report about technologies that monitor user experience .

Where company got its name: Sounds like eternity, but company officials reveal the name doesn't hold a secret meaning or source of origin.

Customers: Comverse, Hologic, Israel-based insurance companies Menora and the Midgal Group.

Centromeric

Founded: May 2005

Headquarters: San Jose

Management: CEO Samir Mukadam, previously with eGain, Instantis and Unisys; CTO Balaji Srinivasa, whose experience comes from CA, IBM, Platinum and Unisys.

Funding: Backed by private noninstitutional investors; executives plan to seek venture funding in early 2008.

What company offers: Centromeric Data Center DNA platform automates life-cycle management of physical and virtual servers. The software can work with existing management tools and homegrown scripts, and the company offers its technology in both licensed and hosted models.

What it’s worth watching: Data center automation technology is hot. HP bid $1.6 billion for market leader Opsware and competitor BladeLogic just filed an IPO. The growing trend toward server virtualization also puts a strain on enterprise systems administrators.

Where company got its name: Derived from the word "centromere," which Mukadam says is "part of the chromosome that dictates the ways cells replicate much like all these physical and virtual servers replicate across data centers."

Customers: Pilots and proofs of concept in the works; won’t name customers. Targeting all sizes of organizations.

Great Bay Software

Founded: January 2005

Headquarters: Greenland, N.H.

Management: Co-founder and president Steven Pettit, previously founder and president of security integrator Blue Spruce Technologies; formerly a vice president at Enterasys.

Funding: Privately funded.

What company offers: Beacon Endpoint Profiler discovers and profiles all devices attached to a network, which is essential to deploying network-access control (NAC) technologies from Cisco and others. The software packaged as an appliance discovers how each device is attached to the network, for instance which port on which switch or router, and how a device uses the network. Profiler tracks device behavior over time.

What it’s worth watching: Cisco is going to sell the newcomer's technology as part of its NAC line. The information detected and collected by Beacon is critical to setting security and access-control policies across network devices. The technology maps network devices, and provides ongoing monitoring to ensure the endpoints adhere to policies and remain compliant. Such network discovery and use information is crucial to setting up or upgrading to NAC/802.1X technologies, the company says.

Where company got its name: Named after the region of New Hampshire where its headquarters are situated -- and also for the area where two of the founders live.

Customers: Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Justice, Reed Smith Law Firm.

Indicative Software

Founded: August 2003

Headquarters: Fort Collins, Colo.

Management: CEO Lacy Edwards, previously CEO of Evoke Software and formerly COO of Unison Software; and founder and executive vice president John Smith, formerly headed up the Firehunter service management business at Agilent Technologies.

Funding: $6.1 million in May 2004 from Sutter Hill Ventures, Sequel Venture Partners and Vista Ventures; $6 million in April 2006 from WW Ventures and existing investors.

What company offers: Indicative's software of the same name performs proactive IT service management -- including end-user experience monitoring -- such as offerings from competitors BMC, CA, HP, IBM and Managed Objects. But industry watchers argue Indicative is able to do so without causing deployment and configuration headaches for IT managers. The software uses various techniques to gather management information from network devices, Web and application servers, databases and storage systems -- and doesn't always require customers to deploy agents. For instance, the software would use SNMP to collect management metrics from network devices, Java Management Extensions (JMX) to poll Java applications, PerfMon to tap Windows operating systems and Secure Shell (SSH) to connect into Unix systems.

What it’s worth watching: "The company's true differentiator is that they are actually providing a solution, which quickly installs, monitors and manages right away," says Evelyn Hubbert, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. "The management team has learned from previous engagements, as many of their folks are from [HP] OpenView, NetMetrix or Firehunter."

Where company got its name: Implies insight and understanding of what's going on within the enterprise.

Customers: California Water Service Co., Columbia Insurance, OhioHealth.

moka5

Founded: July 2005

Headquarters: Redwood City, Calif.

Management: CEO Bill Demas, most recently senior vice president and general manager at Yahoo Publisher Network Group; founder and Chief Scientist Monica Lam, a professor at Stanford University who founded the company based on research she and a group with doctoral degrees in the school's computer science department.

Funding: $3 million from initial investors Khosla Ventures; and $15 million in July 2007 from Khosla and Highland Capital Partners.

What company offers: LivePC software lets IT administrators deploy, manage, restore and secure virtual desktops or LivePCs. The technology enables desktop users to work on any operating system with any applications on any device in a "completely maintained, up-to-date and secure environment."

What it’s worth watching: LivePC technology works with virtualization products and simplifies desktop management for enterprise and other customers. The software lets systems administrators centrally manage operating systems and applications, without touching every machine. And for security, the desktop system can be restored to its last best state quickly.

Where company got its name: The name moka5 seemed universal and representative of a virtual computing company, company officials report.

Customers: The company reports it is working to sign 10 customers.

Optinuity

Founded: April 2004

Headquarters: Bethesda, Md.

Management: CEO and Chairman Scott Stouffer, who previously founded Visual Networks, which Fluke Networks acquired in 2005.

Funding: $6.5 million in November 2004 from New Enterprise Associates and Venrock Associates, with additional funding from Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds; and $6 million in April 2007 led by Edison Ventures.

What company offers: C2O software automates IT processes and production tasks ranging from running batch jobs, to rebooting a server to troubleshooting application performance problems. The centralized server software monitors and measures actual tasks against predefined models of IT processes and jobs by using data collected by software agents distributed on application, Web and other production servers across a data center.

What it’s worth watching: Top competitors iConclude, Opsware and RealsOps were acquired this year by management vendors needing IT process automation incorporated into their larger suites. For instance, data-center automation vendor Opsware acquired iConclude and then network-management heavyweight HP made plans to acquire Opsware. And BMC picked up RealOps, leaving companies such as Centromeric, Network Automation and Opalis on their own in the niche automation market.

Where company got its name: Derived from combining the words operations and continuity.

Customers: Logistics company Norbert Dentressangle, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, SunGard.

StackSafe (formerly Revive Systems)

Founded: May 2005

Headquarters: Tysons Corner, Va.

Management: Andrew Gross, chief scientist and architect, previously chief architect for Counterpane Internet Security and head of security research at San Diego Supercomputer Center.

Funding: $2.6 million in May 2006 from Novak Biddle Venture Partners and Chart Venture Partners; raising $8 million to $10 million in Series B funding.

What company offers: The StackSafe software platform is in beta testing. It provides operations managers with a virtual staging and testing environment for determining the impact of proposed changes to an IT environment.

What it’s worth watching: Application downtime costs companies far too much money, but provisioning environments to test applications is typically too time-consuming.

Where company got its name: The technology allows IT operations staff to safely test and make changes to their environment without causing a negative impact to the production network, keeping the IT application stack safe from performance disruptions.

Customers: None named. In beta tests now, with general availability slated for early 2008.

Veeam

Founded: March 2006

Headquarters: Cleveland

Management: President, CEO and co-founder Ratmir Timashev, founded Aelita Software; co-founder and CTO Andrei Baronov, also co-founded Aelita and worked R&D director of Quest Software's Microsoft Business Unit after the company was acquired.

Funding: Company founders received $115 million when Quest acquired Aelita in 2004 and used those funds to launch Veeam. Timashev says they will seek out venture funding in coming months.

What company offers: Veeam started out with a freeware application designed to help systems administrators more familiar with Windows environments more easily manage VMware's ESX Server. FastSCP (Fast and Secure Copy) is the underlying technology for four commercial products the company now plans to offer, which feature capabilities ranging from configuration, monitoring, backup and reporting in virtual environments.

What it’s worth watching: Timashev says FastSCP has "become the de facto standard for ESX file management" and the company plans to expand its Windows systems management experience into virtual server management expertise into VMware to start, and then Xen and Microsoft platforms in the future. Veeam competitor vendor Dunes Technologies was also just snapped up by VMware, proving management capabilities are in demand.

Where company got its name: Veeam was supposed to be the letters V and M spelled out phonetically and pronounced as such, but company officials say more people have started calling it Veeam, as in rhyming with beam, so that is what stuck.

Customers: More than 12,000 users have downloaded the FastSCP freeware application, which is the basis for Veeam's commercial products.

Xangati

Founded: June 2006

Headquarters: Cupertino, Calif.

Management: CEO Alan Robin, previously president and CEO of netVmg; founder and CTO Jagan Jagannanthan, who previously held senior executive positions at Reactive Network Solutions, Xerox PARC and Sun.

Funding: $8 million in July 2006 from Alloy Ventures; expected to announce a second round of funding this month.

What company offers: Rapid problem identification (RPI) technology packaged on appliances pinpoints the source of problems across an enterprise by using flow information, such as Cisco's NetFlow, sFlow or cFlow. The technology discovers all IP endpoints and applications running on them and profiles the endpoint, whether it be a desktop, server, storage device, VoIP phone or PDA. The RPI technology baselines normal behavior and alerts staff when anomalous events occur.

What it’s worth watching: "Xangati helps us stop the finger pointing between the network and server team about where issues are happening," says Michael Gruen, IT project Manager for Bernalillo County in Albuquerque, N.M. "It performs endpoint performance analysis without having anything installed on the client and has an appealing price point. As a government agency, less work to deploy and lower price are two big selling points and two less headaches."

Where company got its name: Derived from Sanskrit word “Sangati,” meaning: Sanga, Sangat or Sangha, which in turn means community; gathering together with the highest intention of learning

Customers: Bernalillo County in New Mexico, Kerman Telephone.

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