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Start-up targets Web hosting trend

Ensim hopes that its technology to segment the capacity of a computer system will help it reap a windfall from the expected growth in the hosted Web site and software application market.

Start-up Ensim hopes that by offering technology that can segment the capacity of a computer system, it can reap a windfall from the expected growth in the hosted Web site and software application market.

The company plans later today to announce new software technology that an application service provider (ASP), Web content distributor or Web hosting company can use to segment the capacity of a computer system, allowing the provider to use fewer server systems to satisfy the needs of its customers. Previously, these companies would often dedicate an entire system to a particular customer in order to handle unexpected capacity, but that often meant computer capacity would go unused.

Ensim hopes to benefit from an emerging trend in which technologies choose to sell their products as a service rather than as a piece of software or hardware. For $25,000 in set-up costs and $30 per segmented server per month, Ensim will install a computer at a Web hosting facility to monitor outsourced applications or hosted Web sites.

The company follows a trail blazed by the likes of Akamai Technologies, which sells its Web content distribution technology as a service. Competitors include Sun Microsystems and start-up Sphera, according to a report from industry consultants The Aberdeen Group.

Ken Fehrnstrom Ensim is initially going after the 20 to 30 Web hosting companies that are industry influencers, hoping to create a buzz for its technology, according to Ken Fehrnstrom, Ensim's chief executive and a veteran of networking firms Ascend Communications and Cisco Systems.

"The real bottleneck in the Internet is the server environment," Fehrnstrom said.

Ensim started collecting revenue last month and currently has four customers, with another 25 to 30 potential customers currently evaluating the 100-employee company's technology. It has received $18 million in funding thus far from venture firm New Enterprise Associates as well as private investors.

The software serves as a "layer" over an operating system, providing links or "wrappers" to particular applications running on these "virtual" segmented servers, without a service provider having to tweak a particular application, such as business software from J.D. Edwards.

The company's ServerXchange and AppXchange software will be available next month. A version allowing systems to be segmented on a global network is scheduled to debut in the fourth quarter. The company also launched a partner program to stir up interest among software applications builders, initially including networking firms Alteon WebSystems and Redback Networks.