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Allaire looks to make server more robust

The company buys software firm Bright Tiger which will help its application server become more dependable and easier to manage.

Allaire has purchased a software firm for technology that will help its application server become more dependable and easier to manage, Allaire executives said.

Allaire, which posted better than expected quarterly results yesterday, bought Bright Tiger Technologies in a stock swap worth about $17 million, said Steve Clark, Allaire's vice president of marketing. The company will swallow Bright Tiger's debt, which brings the total purchase price to between $18 million to $20 million, he said.

The acquisition came on the same day that application server maker Allaire reported a first-quarter loss of $1.7 million, or 19 cents a share, compared to a loss of $2.2 million, or 89 cents a share, the same time last year. A consensus of analysts had predicted a loss of 27 cents a share.

But despite the loss, sales nearly doubled. Revenue from the ColdFusion application server, HomeSite Web development software, and services soared from $4 million in the 1998 first quarter to $7.8 million this past quarter.

Sequentially, license revenue rose 18 percent, from $6.8 million in the fourth quarter to $7.8 million this quarter. "We see strong signs the application server market is taking off," Clark said.

An application server glues a Web browser and Web server to back-end databases--and allows companies to create e-commerce Web sites.

Analysts believe Allaire is the current leader in supplying application servers to small to mid-sized businesses. Yesterday's Bright Tiger purchase is part of Allaire's strategy of entering the large corporate market, Clark said.

In the past, Allaire has integrated Bright Tiger's load balancing software, which gives the ability to distribute transactions evenly so it won't overload any one system.

Allaire plans to integrate Bright Tiger's other technology, including software that monitors the health of the network and reroutes traffic if problems arise, such as a server going down, Clark said.

The technology will also be integrated into Allaire's forthcoming set of content management and e-commerce software, code-named Tempest, Clark said.

Tempest will use ColdFusion as its core, with pre-built components lying on top of it, he said. The components will allow companies to manage their Web-based content and documents. It will also include e-commerce software, such as shopping carts and credit-card authorization.

Allaire's goal is to become a one-stop shop for companies' Web needs, Clark said. Tempest will compete with a similar product by Vignette, whose StoryServer technology helps businesses manage their Web content and create personalized content for customers. (CNET: The Computer Network is an investor in Vignette.)