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Cassatt expands virtualization software to Java

Start-up substitutes a virtual foundation for the software rather than the real one it's designed to use.

Cassatt, a start-up hoping to profit from the flexibility that can come from technology called virtualization, plans to expand its management software Monday to let Java programs run on servers more efficiently.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company sells software called Cassatt Collage that governs how software applications run on a pool of servers. A new option called the Web Automation Module extends to software running on Java application servers.

Cassatt is one of a host of start-ups and established computing powers embracing virtualization, which substitutes a virtual foundation for software rather than the real one it's designed to use.

Virtualized hardware, for example, can make it easier to use servers more efficiently by running multiple operating systems simultaneously. Cassatt's software steps in a layer above that, though, controlling higher-level software and letting it be moved from one machine to another.

Cassatt's new module takes advantage of the fact that Sun Microsystems' Java software already employs virtualization, said Rich Green, a former Sun Microsystems employee and now executive vice president of products. Each Java program already runs in a software environment called a Java virtual machine.

Cassatt's new module controls Java software by assigning new computing resources if performance isn't up to preset levels or moving it to a new machine if the one it's running on fails. It also lets administrators pool Java server resources into a central resource, replacing large numbers of underutilized servers with fewer machines running closer to top capacity. "We're seeing server consolidation numbers of about five to one," Green said.

The product is certified to work with BEA Systems' Java software foundation, WebLogic, but later will expand to other Java application servers including JBoss and IBM's WebSphere. The order is no surprise: A Cassatt founder, Bill Coleman, also helped launch BEA.

Cassatt's control software costs about $100,000 for a 40-server pool. Adding the Web Automation Module increases the cost by about $5,000 per server, the company said.

The company has about 100 employees now, 20 in Colorado who had been members of Sun's N1 automation software team that Cassatt hired en masse, Green said.