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HP builds out cloudy wares with Stratavia buy

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Hewlett-Packard has snapped up a database and application automation company called Stratavia for an undisclosed sum.

Stratavia was founded in 2001 by database experts Venkat Devraj and Rainier Luistro, who wanted to create a set of tools to automate how databases are managed. The company was originally called ExtraQuest, and the company's first product was a database administration automation tool called RoboDOC.

In July 2006, the company was relaunched as Stratavia and expanded into run book automation from its database roots. Devraj stayed on as chairman and chief technology officer, and is, by the way, an author of a popular book on Oracle tuning and database administration.

Thor Culverhouse, who once managed IBM's database software channels and database sales at Informix before Big Blue ate it, was brought in to be president and chief executive officer; David Graham, who is vice president of engineering and chief software architect at Stratavia, was brought in from a high-level software engineering post at IBM as well. If anything, you'd think IBM would have already snapped up Stratavia.

But HP has snapped first, and unless IBM makes a counterbid, will end up with another quiver in its business service automation portfolio, which includes tools that came to HP via acquisitions of Opsware, Mercury Interactive, and others.

Stratavia's current product line is called the Data Palette Platform, which is used to discover existing database and application configurations within data centers, track how they are changed, and automate how they are done in the future so everything is done consistently, not cowboy-style as system and database administrators (who are not always known for cooperating) are inclined to do.

The company says that its automation tools can manage about 80 per cent of the mundane and recurring tasks that database and middleware administrators spend their time doing (just like the Opsware tools automated system administrators out of their jobs). This includes provisioning, configuring, patching, copying, migrating, and refreshing databases and deploying code into production on top of middleware as well as provisioning, configuring, patching, and maintaining that middleware.

In March, the company announced the public beta Data Palette Express, a freebie but crippled version of its full suite that people can use for free on up to ten servers. The full Data Palette Enterprise edition can automate the operations of VMware SpringSource, IBM WebSphere, Microsoft IIS, and Oracle WebLogic application servers running on Unix, Linux or Windows servers; it also can automate Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, IBM DB2, and Sybase ASE databases. Data Palette 6, the company's most recent suite of tools, was announced in February 2009.

HP's goal is to provide one-stop-shopping for IT automation tools, whether customers are deploying traditional physical infrastructure or cloudy setups on private or public clouds. Stratavia will be added to HP's Software group. It is unclear how many employees, how much revenue, and how many customers Stratavia has.

Stratavia, which is based in Denver, Colorado, has had two rounds of venture funding. Adams Street Partners and Vista Ventures kicked in $3.25m in August 2005, just ahead of the relaunch, and Asset Management Company joined in with these two VCs in July 2007 to kick in another $6.25m in Series B funding. The company also issued another $1.2m in debt late last year, according to the CrunchBase VC tracker, which says Stratavia has around 45 employees. ®

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