Fotango in state of shock, as Canon Europe plots escape

Zimki - a crisis platform

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Exclusive One day, you're a startup on top of the world, serving as the Diamond sponsor of the popular OSCON conference alongside Intel and Microsoft. The next, your COO quits. And the day after that, your parent company looks set to abandon you. Life is tough at Fotango, the maker of the Zimki utility computing platform.

The Register can confirm that Canon Europe has moved to cease all funding of the UK's Fotango. Word of the funding apathy comes just a couple of days after Fotango COO Simon Wardley shocked OSCON attendees by announcing his resignation during a speech at the conference. Wardley protested Fontango's decision not to open source its Zimki software, and now Canon has protested the startup as well.

"Following a recent evaluation of the future of Zimki, the Fotango board concluded that there was a lack of alignment to Canon’s core business and that substantial investment would be required to make Zimki a complete product," a Canon Europe spokeswoman told us. "As a result, it is proposed that Canon will cease investment in Zimki, but this proposal is subject to an ongoing consultation process with all Fotango employees.

"We have no further comment to make until all Fotango employees’ opinions have been considered, and the consultation process is completed.”

Fotango came to life in 2000 and was bought by Canon Europe in 2001. It makes a number of products aimed at software developers. The company, however, has spent most of its time promoting Zimki - a JavaScript platform meant to aid with the production of utility computing-style applications.

As we wrote last week, one Zimki developer describes the product as follows:

"You build your Zimki application and we host, manage, scale and back it up. Rather than paying a subscription or a service fee your application consumes resources on one of 3 meters – bandwidth, storage, and operations in the virtual machine. Basically, the more of the resources you consume, the more you pay - and of course, vice versa."

During his speech at OSCON, Wardley called for an open-source utility computing layer that would let customers move their applications and data between various utility computing providers. The likes of Sun, IBM and Amazon.com offer a variety of utility-style services where you can use their servers and storage to run applications. Wardley, however, fears that the vendors could end up locking you into their systems without an open transport layer for data. He hoped Zimki would be that layer.

According to Wardley, the Fotango board decided against open sourcing Zimki despite making repeated promises to do so in the past.

It's unclear now if Fotango will split off from Canon Europe and secure its own funding. It's also unclear if Wardley knew about these coming events before making his public resignation. Canon Europe refused to field questions about Fotango's future that stretched outside of the above statement, and Wardley has yet to respond to our request for comment.

OSCON attendees last week were bombarded by Zimki advertisements - a weird turn of events since the show is dedicated to open source software and Zimki remains closed. Now, you have to question the amount of money spent promoting the platform with Canon Europe looking to shed the startup. ®

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