10 start-ups to watch: Univa

Location: Elmhurst, Ill.

What does the company offer? Grid computing consulting services. Enterprise-class services and support for the open source Globus tool kit are planned for mid 2005.

How did the company get its start? Grid pioneers Ian Foster, Carl Kesselman and Steve Tuecke formed Univa in June 2004 in response to growing demand from customers, independent software vendors and systems integrators for commercial services and support for their open source grid software. The three co-founded the Globus Alliance, originally known as the Globus Project.

How did the company get its name? Founders wanted a short, pronounceable name that reflected their mission to let distributed resources work in unison. Univa plays on words like "unity" and "unison."

How much funding does the company have? Until now founders have bootstrapped development with some undisclosed angel funding, but are working on a first round of venture funding.

Who's leading the company? Steve Tuecke, who has been responsible for managing the architecture, design and development of the Globus software. Before co-founding Univa, Tuecke was with the Distributed Systems Laboratory at Argonne National Laboratory.

Who's using the consulting service? Unnamed customers in the aerospace, defense, software and telecom industries.

Why is this company worth watching? As enterprise IT executives look into grid computing, they want to be sure management and interoperability don't become issues. The Globus tool kit addresses those concerns, but has been applied primarily in scientific and academic environments.

Enter Univa, which is preparing a commercial distribution of the open source Globus tool kit to give enterprise customers packaged, tested and certified software to use in setting up grids.

"We will be making the technology supportable in an enterprise setting so that it can be installed well, configured easily, monitored in a large-scale setting and managed properly," Tuecke says. "And then our professional services will help enterprises both upfront understand how to apply grid to their enterprise, as well as help them in implementing it as appropriate."

Univa is the only company to offer enterprise-hardened Globus software for heterogeneous environments, Tuecke says. IBM, for example, uses Globus but optimizes it for use on IBM platforms. And smaller grid software companies, such as Platform Computing, offer technology that complements the underlying grid infrastructure provided by Univa with the Globus tool kit.

What Univa really hopes to do is replace custom development of "one-off" grids for the enterprise. "This is where opportunities lie for Univa and for the Globus technology - to help make it much easier to build those sorts of systems and maintain them and manage a whole set of them onto a common infrastructure," Tuecke says.

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