Cloud Computing Forerunner Facing Bankruptcy

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Cassatt, the infrastructure management software company started by BEA Systems founder Bill Coleman, is running out of money

About six years ago, Silicon Valley mainstay Bill Coleman—at one time a Sun Microsystems executive, and later a founding member of BEA Systems—started Cassatt.

The company was founded to build software that helps enterprises manage huge and distributed infrastructure environments, and could have played a major role given the rise of cloud computing.

However, according to a published report, Cassatt is on its way out, the victim of the global recession and competition from larger players.

In an interview with on 27 April, Coleman said Cassatt is nearing the end of its existence, and that he has been looking for a buyer for several months without much success. He didn’t name any company he had had talks with, although the Forbes report mentioned Google and having backed off quickly after initial contact. Coleman also said if a buyer isn’t found, the company’s assets could be sold in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Cassatt apparently has burned through more than $100 million (£67m) over the past six years, and while some enterprises have shown an interest in the Cassatt Active Response software, few have moved beyond the testing phase.

“What frustrates me is my own naivete,” Coleman told Forbes. “I thought I could give companies something radical that had a proven return on investment, and they would be willing to change all their companies’ computer policies and procedures to get that. Right now it’s hard to get people to get beyond proof-of-concept tests or a data centre energy analysis.”

Cassatt’s impending demise comes at a time when cloud computing and converged data centres are becoming important trends in the industry. Top-tier vendors—including IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, Novell and VMware—have unveiled strategies designed to integrate server, storage, networking and software into a single data centre entity, fueled in large part by virtualisation.

In the same vein, those companies and others, such as and Google, are pushing compute clouds, both internal and public, as a way for businesses to increase their agility and flexibility while reducing operating and capital costs.

Wrapped around all this are management software initiatives from a host of large and smaller vendors designed to handle the increased complexity that these environments will create, similar to what Cassatt was trying to do.

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