10 IT management start-ups to watch

Virtualization, application performance, software-as-a-service among management start-ups' focus areas

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Why it's worth watching: Ruby on Rails is the open source Web application framework du jour for Web 2.0 applications, and industry watchers expect it to take a similar path as Java 2, Enterprise Edition, which took the place of many C++ applications in customer environments. Plus the company founder and CEO Lewis Cirne headed up Wily Technology, which was considered an innovator in Java application management.

"New Relic is doing for Ruby apps what Wily did for Java apps, but with a twist. They are doing it from a cloud perspective," says Gartner's Haight. "Data from plug-ins on Ruby applications flows to them and they present it in a portal, which gives the company a lot of insight into this application type that hasn't seen much play in the enterprise yet."

How company got its start: Following CA's acquisition of Wily in 2006, Cirne says he turned his attention to disproving some misconceptions around Rails applications, such as that they can't scale for the enterprise. "I focused on starting a company that could help Rails go mainstream as a serious business application, and I believe providing performance management will help," he says.

How company got its name: Cirne plugged his full name into a Web site anagram generator and one of the results, New Relic, stuck.

CEO: Cirne founded Wily in 1998 and developed its flagship performance monitoring solution, Introscope. Most recently he was an Entrepreneur in Residence at Benchmark Capital. He holds seven patents, including four related to Wily's core technology.

Funding: $3.5 million in Series A funding closed in February 2008 from Benchmark.

Who's using the product: New Relic claims more than 700 customers in production, of which over 50% are paying for service. Named customers include Ourstage, Shopify, iOffer and 37 Signals.

Company: PacketTrap Networks 

Founded: May 2007

Headquarters: San Francisco

Focus: The Perspective platform can be used to monitor network performance, manage faults and report on device availability data. It's targeted at organizations with between 100 and 5,000 employees. (Compare Network Monitoring and Management products.)

Why it's worth watching: PacketTrap offers a "high-end product suite that starts with a free set of tools that is great for hands-on troubleshooting and administration," says Jim Frey, senior analyst at EMA. The company also "leverages a large community of customers to participate in and drive the direction of the product," he says. And the company "has spent time developing some very valuable advanced policy and intelligent baselining features that commonly only come with much-higher-cost solutions."

How company got its start: Company founders took on network performance management for the midmarket because they didn't see any products that could solve managing virtualization, VoIP and other emerging technologies adequately for customers that might not be considered enterprise size. Aiming squaring at SolarWinds as the top competitor.

How company got its name: Derived from capturing packets to manage network and application performance.

CEO: Steve Goodman previously served as vice president of the Storage and Business Continuity Business Unit at SonicWALL.

Funding: $5 million in Series A funding from August Capital in October 2007.

Who's using the product: Frontier Materials, Enviance and the City of Dublin, Calif., are listed among PacketTrap's customers.

Company: Porttracker 

Founded: December 2007

Headquarters: Basingstoke, England

Focus: Packages its network management software of the same name on an appliance that enables network managers to quickly track and report on what is connected to the network for troubleshooting, security and capacity-planning purposes. The product builds a view of the switch-port inventory and is designed for companies with more than 1,000 ports.

Why it's worth watching: "Porttracker is an example of a technology of high priority to security management teams, in terms of visibility into actual network activity," says Scott Crawford, research director at EMA. "Porttracker provides information as to what is connected to the network and where, which helps to correlate detected activity with known network nodes. This helps improve the accuracy of security event correlation, helping to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of network visibility."

How company got its start: The founders began developing the technology and appliance in late 2005 to help reduce the challenge of "port wastage," which company officials say can cost companies in a big way.

How company got its name: Based on the technology's ability to track what is connected to a network down to the port..

CEO: Julian Rigg has previously held senior management positions with Wall Data, Cisco, Quadritek and Lucent.

Funding: Privately funded.

Who's using the product: The company's Web site lists the University of Hertfordshire, for one.

Company: SevOne 

Founded: February 2005

Headquarters: Newark, Del.

Focus: Performance Appliance Solution (PAS), http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/061008-sevone-performance-problems.html first released in June 2008, comes packaged on five appliances that range in capabilities depending on the size of the environment to be managed. PAS captures performance data for capacity planning or ongoing monitoring and management by using such standard protocols as SNMP and Cisco's NetFlow to collect network traffic data and measure how VoIP application traffic is impacting network performance, for instance. (Compare Network Capacity Planning and Network Design products.)

Why it's worth watching: "SevOne offers a product that is carefully crafted, packaged and priced to hit a growing market segment that is interested in a value-priced (or relatively inexpensive) but functionality rich product," says Rich Ptak, found and principal analyst at Ptak, Noel and Associates. "The company identified specific pain points and came up with what appears to be a technically strong solution whose installation, implementation and payback period seem to go easily and start promptly."

How company got its start: Company founders wanted to develop a network and application performance management product that could scale to meet the demands of large enterprise companies and service providers. The company developed a peer-to-peer architecture for its appliance technology enabling it to handle more transaction volumes and monitor performance across large distributed networks.

How company got its name: Named after the slang for the "severity one" performance problems network managers face

CEO: Michael Phelan, previously founder and president of consulting/storage networking integration firm StorNet, which was sold to Vanguard Technologies in 2000.

Funding: Self-funded until July 2006, then it raised $1.5 million of outside capital in a transaction led by Osage Ventures of Philadelphia. Other investors included John Ryan, the founder of SunGard; Jonathan Brassington, CEO of Liquidhub; Adrian Stone, CEO of Sureplan; and Lawrence Phelan, managing partner of Phelan Hallinan & Schmieg.

Who's using the product: SevOne lists Comcast, HBO, Credit Suisse, Hawaii Telecom and JPMorgan Chase among its customers.

Company: Zyrion 

Founded: December 2007

Headquarters: Sunnyvale, Calif.

Focus: Traverse is a business service management (BSM) product with a "strong network management foundation" for companies in the midmarket that might not be able to afford several management applications, company officials say. The software installs on a server and discovers the environment, and customers designate the business services they wanted managed.

Why it's worth watching: Industry watchers say Zyrion is a start-up with a mature technology. "They are a polished-up relaunch of the NetVigil product, which was originally offered in the market by [CEO Vikas Aggarwal’s] first company -- Fidelia," says EMA's Frey. They have some new features, and some very credible functionality via their business containers that will be of great value in bringing BSM to the midmarket."

How company got its start: Following a series of acquisitions with previous companies, company founders focused their energies on building a company that could address BSM and managing technologies such as virtualization for midmarket companies.

How company got its name: Founders liked the name Orion, but say it is over-used in the IT industry. When Zyrion was suggested, they decided it was close to what they wanted and also had an available domain name.

CEO: Aggarwal previously founded Fidelia, which Network General acquired in 2006 to incorporate the BSM technology into its network suite. NetScout bought Network General in 2007

Funding: Privately funded

Who's using the product: Alexander Open Systems in one of the 10 or so customers Zyrion is working with.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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