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VMware snacks on Pattern Insight's log tool

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Security for virtualized datacentres

VMware has an insatiable appetite and billions of dollars in cash, so hardly a month goes by when it doesn't buy something. The server virtualization and soon-to-be network virtualization juggernaut – once it closes its $1.26bn acquisition of Nicira – has just snapped up the log analysis products of Pattern Insight – and taken on the people who develop and support them.

The acquisition was divulged by Spiros Xanthos, co-founder and CEO of the small firm, in a blog post. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but Xanthos said VMware had snapped up its Log Insight tool and the team behind it. Like a number of different products out there, Log Insight is designed to do analytics on operational data generated by systems and software in the data center and in public clouds. This is, in fact, how many companies are putting Hadoop Big Data munchers to work as a prototype, helping to run their systems, before they start chewing on clickstreams and other transactional data to actually run their businesses.

Pattern Insight was founded in 2006 by Yuanyuan Zhou, a professor of computer science at the University of Illinois who eventually moved to the University of California San Diego and added three colleagues – Xanthos as well as Zhenmin Li and Bo Zhu – as co-founders. The company came out of a Fighting Illini business incubator, and the original product was called CP-Miner – and debuted back in July 2006. CP-Miner could scan applications for bugs related to incorrectly copied-and-pasted code.

The National Science Foundation and Intel kicked in money to get the suite of tools, which included CP-Miner, PR-Miner (for analyzing programming rules implicit in the code and finding errors), Rx (for riding through crashes), and Triage (for post mortem analysis on crashed code). The company also received venture funding from Venture Investors and John Lovitt, formerly its CEO, and Kai Li, a professor of computer science at Princeton University who also founded Data Domain, in 2008 to help get it rolling. (Data Domain was acquired by EMC, VMware's parent, for $2.1bn back in July 2009.)

Those initial four tools from Pattern Insight evolved into what is now called Code Insight, and Intel's Wind River unit, Qualcomm, Motorola, EMC, and Tellabs are marquee customers. "We remain committed to their success and will continue to support and expand our Code Insight product," Xanthos said in his post.

The Log Insight product was ancillary to the code-cleaning tools, and will no doubt be useful for a cloud-obsessed VMware – which needs to build some kind of analysis tool that spans server, storage, and network virtualization layers in the data center and makes sense of all the chatter that hardware and software generate as they run or, in some cases, don't.

With VMware being so keen on moving into application development now that it has Cloud Foundry and vFabric application frameworks, it is curious that VMware didn't just acquire all of Pattern Insight.

You can only buy what is for sale when it comes to private companies. ®

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