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EMC absorbs FastScale Technology

Ionix carves up and slims down servers

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Storage giant and systems management software wannabe EMC added another tool to its data center utility belt today when it snapped up FastScale Technology for an undisclosed sum.

Because everybody has cloud on the brain these days in the IT vendor community, the FastScale Composer Suite tools were being pitched by EMC's Ionix system management tool group (distinct from its VMware server virtualization tools) as a means of helping companies build more efficient private clouds.

Composer Suite didn't have anything to do with clouds when it was launched in April 2007. Whether or not you're building a private cloud, it puts all of the servers you're installing on your production machines into a repository, and it only deploys the bits of the software stack your applications actually are using out to the iron.

This software package was called a dynamic application bundle, or DAB. Think of it as thin provisioning at the OS and application level, and you get the right idea. The software initially ran on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and it was extended to support Windows servers and then VMware virtual machines, putting them all on a diet.

In July, FastScale said that with Composer Suite Enterprise Edition 3.0, it would be able to deploy skinnied-down software stacks onto Amazon's EC2 compute clouds and also gave customers the option of using the Composer Suite repository to keep track of and centrally patch fatter logical server configurations.

Apparently, not everyone likes the idea of messing around with Windows DLLs and EXEs. But they like the idea of a central software repository that keeps track of software changes and pushes them out to production systems while leaving them the option of trimming down the software stack.

In early July, following five years of acquisitions of various systems management tool makers (see this story for the blow by blow on all that), EMC slapped the Ionix label on those tools and said that it was going to be a player in this space. At the time, El Reg noted that the Ionix stack, which had four modules, was missing a tool that could be used to provision servers. Not anymore (once EMC bends FastScale Composer Suite a little this way and that).

The existing Ionix tools include Service Directory and Mapping for locating servers, storage, and networks (both physical and virtual); IT Operations Intelligence for monitoring physical and virtual servers and for doing root cause and impact analysis when they crap out; Service Management, which is help desk software; and Data Center Automation and Compliance, which does network and storage provisioning and server, network, and storage management. This last module is where the FastScale code will be tucked.

Bob Quillin, senior director of marketing at EMC, said that the company was not going to divulge the sales FastScale has had to date, how many customers, or what it paid to acquire the company. FastScale has raised $12m to date in two rounds of venture funding from ATA Ventures, Leapfrog Ventures, and Hunt Ventures (the first in late 2006 and the other in early 2009), and presumably, EMC paid enough for the VCs to get their bait back. (But maybe not. You can't tell in this difficult economy).

Quillin said that Composer Suite had a "very strong technology foundation" and some key large companies who have deployed it and love it. He added that all 20 employees at FastScale would be moving to EMC's offices in Santa Clara, where the Ionix tools are managed from, including FastScale CEO Lynn LeBlanc.

In a related item, EMC and VMware kept up the appearances that they are separate companies by having EMC sign a reseller agreement to distribute VMware's vCenter AppSpeed tool alongside the EMC Ionix tools. You can find out more about AppSpeed, which is a virtual machine and application performance monitoring tool, here. ®

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