CA plucks automation assets from struggling Cassatt

CA purchases intellectual property and brings technology team on board from Cassatt

CA has acquired for an undisclosed sum the assets of data center automation vendor Cassatt, perhaps salvaging the technological innovation developed earlier this decade at the financially struggling start-up.

CA says the intellectual property assets and key executives from Cassatt will help further CA's data center automation products with intelligent optimization capabilities. Don Ferguson, CA's chief architect, says Cassatt became an attractive acquisition target because it added a level of "informed analysis and intelligent automation" in its technology that CA could incorporate in its broader monitoring, management and automation products.

Cassatt's key value is policy-based intelligence that can help IT managers make decisions about resource allocation and data center optimization, Ferguson says. "Cassatt has innovative technology for doing analysis and planning in semi-real time, which means you don't have to go offline and perform extensive capacity planning. It has a policy brain for building the change process and figuring what the change could be online."

Industry watchers say CA could also be planning to put Cassatt technology to work at managing cloud resources. Jasmine Noel, co-founder and principal analyst at Ptak, Noel and Associates, say Cassatt's tools could help CA enable customers to better manage IT services and resources when put to use in cloud computing.

"Because nothing is going to stop the clouds from rolling in -- it's just a matter of whether IT managers are going to get flooded out or can direct the rain to where it's needed. CA has basically picked up some technology for directing the rain," Noel says. "More importantly the [Cassatt] technical team has been working at the cloud management problem for some time now. CA can use that experience particularly in building out pre-packaged workflows for their solutions, so that their customers can benefit from those lessons learned."

Cassatt could have been ahead of its time. The vendor had been focusing on managing resources in the cloud for quite some time, according to company executives, and combining its technology with CA's will help further that vision.

"Cassatt has long been a champion for using a cloud-style architecture to manage data centers like a compute utility," says Cassatt CEO and founder Bill Coleman. "This is a great move for both organizations because of the vision we share -- delivering a new, dramatically more efficient way to run data centers."

Cassatt's financial situation could have also made this acquisition attractive to both vendors. Network World reported in April that Cassatt's Coleman had been shopping the company to potential buyers.

"I have talked with about a dozen companies, all the usual suspects," Coleman said in a Forbes article. "There are one or two possible buyers, and a couple of flickers of interest, but pretty soon I have to think about what's best for my shareholders."

With the current economy and market consolidation trends, Noel says the acquisition is a good move for both vendors.

"It's typical for the economy. It's just harder for start-ups to get enterprise companies to open their wallets, even if they have a solid niche and good integration with solutions from larger players. Eventually venture capitalists lower their buyout expectations and it's easier for the vendor buyers, CA in this case, to go bargain hunting," she says. "As a small company like Cassatt, if you can't get sales deals signed then you can get pretty desperate -- and CA actually hangs onto their acquired tech people these days."

Ferguson, who worked with some of Cassatt's key executives while in IBM's WebSphere division, says CA is considering how to best integrate the technology and the team. Cassatt's Rob Gingell, executive vice president of product development and CTO, and Steve Oberlin, chief scientist and co-founder, have joined CA along with their team of developers, engineers and other key employees. CA has also acquired several patents and patent applications with the purchase.

CA is still in the process of deciding how Cassatt's technology will be integrated into CA's portfolio. Products from the two vendors do interoperate on some levels, Ferguson says, but there was no formal business or technology partnership in the past between CA and Cassatt. It remains unclear when customers will see the fruits of this acquisition, but Ferguson says the buy will strengthen both CA and Cassatt technology.

"We are working out those details still because this is a very innovative technology that can be applied to our broader and deeper automation platform, and these are very good and senior people. By allowing them to focus on the value of their technology, the acquisition will be a significant benefit to both Cassatt and CA," Ferguson says.

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