A couple of years ago a group of networking veterans decided to stop talking about poorly performing applications and develop software that could reduce configuration errors, eliminate application downtime and optimize application performance.Swapnil Shah, mValent president and CEO, says he and his team wanted to deliver products that would address configuration-related application downtime. The company launched at last week's Demo 2004 conference in Scottsdale, Ariz., and unveiled its flagship offering, mValent Infrastructure Automation Suite."A large percentage of application downtime is related to application configuration errors in the infrastructure," Shah says. "A mere misconfiguration or small change can bring an application down, and IT can actually become the bottleneck when trying to find the problem."The software captures information about infrastructure requirements for different applications and models how applications use infrastructure components such as Web, application and database servers. The captured information and models inform different IT departments how to either write an application or configure infrastructure components for optimal performance.For example, an application development team could determine how to tweak an application to improve its response time. A database team could spot an error in queries and resolve that problem. Servers could be configured to optimize their response to application requests. According to Shah, mValent looks to spot potential slowdowns and bottlenecks in the process and technology involved in delivering successful applications."We think the software can help fewer people do more with less and help them synchronize changes around the infrastructure," Shah says.He says the company competes most with Opsware, Bladelogic and other vendors such as Terraspring and Jareva Technologies, which have been acquired by Sun and Veritas, respectively.MValent uses software installed on a dedicated server and client software on, say, an application developer's desktop. The client software collects information relevant to its users' role in the application lifecycle. For example, a systems administrator, an application developer, a database administrator and a network manager could all use the client software.The data configured and collected by the client software regarding any given application from that specific perspective is then sent to the server software to be correlated and to create the models of how the application users multiple components in the infrastructure.MValent released Version 1.0 of its software suite in September, and most recently the company added an application called Continuity to its mValent Infrastructure Automation Suite. Continuity will let IT administrators run complex configuration changes on a range of application servers.Continuity has the ability to create a sequence, or workflow, of adjustments across a range of inter-related servers and then execute these changes, with the information being shared by a variety of IT and network staff.\u00a0 The first version of the suite uses a program called Integrity that automatically captures from Web servers, database servers and other systems, data about their settings and how they're configured.The mValent Infrastructure Automation Suite Version 2.0 is available immediately, and pricing is based on the number of IT users, with entry-level deployments starting at $50,000.MValent has been partially funded by IDG Ventures, a sister company of Network World.