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Management specialist BMC Software has shelled out to buy Phurnace Software, a privately held and venture backed maker of tools to manage the release-cycles of commercial Java applications.

Phurnace Software was established in 2007 and its Deliver line of application release management tools for Java applications got their start in a business incubator at the University of Texas campus. In April 2007, the company hired Larry Warnock, who had executive positions at Vignette, Onlink Technologies (now part of Oracle), and Documentum (now part of EMC), to be its chief executive officer.

Five months later, Phurnace received its initial funding from DFJ Mercury, the Houston early stage venture fund affiliated with Draper Fisher Jurvetson Ventures. A month, later Jay Gardner, chief information officer at BMC and formerly a sales executive at IBM, joined the Phurnace board of directors after retiring from BMC.

That November, the first production release of the Deliver tools, release 3.1, came to market, with the goal of standardizing how Java applications are deployed across multiple types of Java application servers.

The idea is to stop system administrators and programmers from creating snarls of custom scripts to deploy Java applications on different web application servers and to use the Deliver tool to mask the differences between app servers and do it consistently.

The original Deliver 3.1 release had support for BEA Systems' WebLogic - now Oracle's WebLogic - and IBM's WebSphere application servers. Support for the JBoss application server came with Deliver release 3.3 in March 2008, as did integration with Subversion and CVS code repositories.

In July 2008, after patching the Deliver tool to integrate with IBM's WebSphere Portal, Rational Build Forge, and ClearCase tools, Phurnace closed $5m in Series A financing, with S3 Ventures leading the way and DFJ Mercury kicking in some more dough.

Despite the economic meltdown and without giving any specific figures, Phurnace said in early 2009 that the final quarter of 2008 was the best in its history and the company started building up its technical and sales teams.

The groundwork for the BMC acquisition was laid in May 2009, when Phurnace announced that its Deliver tools could now integrate with BMC's BladeLogic and Hewlett-Packard's Server Automation - formerly Opsware - application deployment tools with Deliver 3.6.

BMC has been acquisitive before and after the meltdown, realizing that it has to keep adding to its software stack to grow sales and profits. In October, BMC bought British software company and BMC-partner Tideway Systems for its Foundation line of infrastructure discovery tools, and the August acquisition of MQSoftware, which makes monitoring tools for keeping track of what various message queuing middleware programs are up to.

BMC did not disclose how much it paid for these two companies, just as it is not disclosing what it shelled out for Phurnace. But the company had to tell shareholders it ponied up $800m back in March 2008 to buy BladeLogic, which has been tapped as the application management software layer in the California Unified Computing System blade servers from Cisco Systems.

BMC says it will be tucking the Deliver tools from Phurnace into the BladeLogic Server Automation Suite and will give them the name BladeLogic Application Release Automation.

Expect more - and possibly larger - acquisitions from BMC in the future. The company had $1.87bn in sales in the fiscal year ended last September, posted $238.1m in net earnings, and ended its year with $1.1bn in cash. That cash hoard was growing despite the downturn as calendar 2008 was ending. ®

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