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Tibco snaps up DataSynapse for $28m

Cloudy aspirations

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Tibco Software has purchased grid/cloud outfit DataSynapse in a deal with worth $28m.

DataSynapse was not only an earlier player in grid computing with its GridServer middleware for creating and managing grids of computing capacity, but it carved a niche for itself in the early 2000s by developing a set of vertical applications that rode atop GridServer that were aimed at financial services, telecommunications, and energy companies as well as governments.

Tibco peddles transaction middleware aimed mostly at financial services companies, but it harbors more expansive cloud aspirations.

DataSynapse partnered with IBM and Hewlett-Packard, which used GridServer as the basis for their respective grid bundles. As grids have evolved (a little, not a lot), we now them clouds, and DataSynapse has grown to have over 100 customers and its product portfolio has expanded to manage applications in both physical and virtual server environments, whether they are gridded or not and whether they are internal or out on a public cloud.

GridServer doesn't just manage grids. It also manages software licenses as well as doing hardware provisioning and load balancing as jobs are running on the grid. FabricServer is a different product that allows for IT resources supporting gridded applications to be provisioned, dynamically sized, and decommissioned based on policies set by the company's business managers and IT staff. The current release of FabricServer can scale across 1,000 server nodes, and GridServer, launched in 2007, can span up to 20,000 server nodes.

The company also has another product called Federator, which allows GridServer and FabricServer to run on the same grids and not bump heads, and another tool called VersaVision provides a dashboard and reporting tool to keep track of what is running on the grids. In February, DataSynapse announced a beta program to allow Federator to manage virtual server instances out on Amazon's EC2 compute cloud.

DataSynapse is privately held, and it doesn't talk about its financials. But back in November 2004, it did get an unspecified fourth round of venture capital funding led by Goldman Sachs, with participation by Bain Capital, NeoCarta Ventures, Intel Capital, New York City Investment Fund, Silicon Alley Venture Partners, Stonehenge Capital, and Wand Partners. Goldman Sachs was a customer using the grid management tools, by the way. Prior to that, the company had raised $6m in Series C funding led by Bain Capital Ventures and NeoCarta Ventures in late 2003. The first three rounds of funding came to $26.3m, and the company never did say what that fourth round was worth.

Tibco, which sells a slew of software for accelerating financial and other kinds of transactions and which dabbles in cloud computing and other areas, made headlines earlier this month when its stock rocketed skyward on rumors that German application software giant SAP was interested in buying the company. Not so, said Vivek Ranadive, the company's chief executive officer. It seems like he was shopping, not being shopped.

Tibco said that DataSynapse's founders, Peter Lee and Jamie Bernadin, are joining the company as part of the acquisition and will be growing the DataSynapse business and steer its product development.

Although Tibco did not say this, it is very likely that the two will be heavily involved with merging the capabilities of Tibco's Silver rapid application development tool for cloud applications with GridServer and FabricServer. Silver went into beta in June, but it's not expected to be delivered as a polished product until next year. Silver is supposed to be able to dynamically scale virtual machine containers for cloud applications up and down as needed, and perhaps this is a bit trickier than Tibco expected. ®

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