Startup prioritizes CPU, memory, and bandwidth to ensure applications get resources

August 1, 2006

3 Min Read
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U.K. software startup SmartPeak, recently spun out of security vendor AppSense, is touting a new take on virtualization and claims it can boost application performance and ease the strain on users' virtual machines.

SmartPeak's flagship offering is its Workload Management (WLM) software, which essentially streamlines application workloads on database and Web servers. "You can allocate and prioritize the CPU, memory, and network bandwidth to make sure that the application gets the resources that it needs," Dan Hepner, SmartPeak's marketing manager, told Byte and Switch.

AppSense, which offers products to protect Windows Terminal Server and Citrix-based environments, began development work on WLM back in 2002. A few weeks ago, however, the security vendor set up SmartPeak as a separate entity focused on application performance with former AppSense exec Tony Bolland as its CEO.

SmartPeak's approach to application performance, according to Hepner, was born in the mainframe space, although the startup is targeting applications running on Windows servers, from SQL Server through to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

The startup's secret sauce is an algorithm called Smart Scheduler, which links up with Windows' own scheduler, to perform real-time calculations of the resources needed by each application. WLM is priced at around $466 per CPU.According to Hepner, WLM can both reduce the number of physical CPUs used by firms, and also help users streamline their virtual infrastructures. "There's benefits in terms of the amount of administration involved; there's a lot less operating system and backup software to administer," he explains.

Alan Rodger, research analyst at Butler Group, thinks that the startup would make a good compliment to VMware, offering users a greater degree of control over their virtual machines. "It's a useful add-on," he says. "It's certainly enhancing the VMware approach -- you can maximize the performance of each virtual machine."

But the analyst, who feels that SmartPeak has a unique offering, warns that visibility will be the vendor's biggest challenge as it attempts to make a name for itself. "Nobody has heard of them, and nobody has heard of this approach," he says.

SmartPeak might be smart to hitch its wagon to VMware. The virtualization specialist, acquired by EMC in 2003, was one the high points in EMC's most recent quarterly results. (See Tucci: EMC's Problems 'Self-Induced'.) Despite some hardware troubles, EMC enjoyed a positive set of software revenue results, with VMware revenue growing 73 percent since last year to $157 million.

"We're complimentary to virtualization because we can manage the contention [for resources] within each virtual machine," adds Hepner, who explains that VMware is already one of his technology partners. "What you can do is look within a virtual machine and make sure that the application receives the resources that it needs. You can guarantee CPU, bandwidth, and memory."The startup is headquartered in Cheshire in northern England, although SmartPeak also has offices in Munich, Germany, and New York. "It's early days yet," admits Hepner. "We're partnering with key systems integrators to get the message out there," he adds, explaining that SmartPeak already has partnerships with HP, EDS, and CSC

The vendor has also forged relationships with some big-name users. Hepner told Byte and Switch that, thanks in part to SmartPeak's relationship with AppSense, the startup has already racked up 1,500 customers, including big names such as Deutsche Bank, Daimler Chrysler, and British Telecom. The bulk of the startup's clients, however, are in the financial sector. "The finance industry always appears to be ahead of the game with these things."

Neither AppSense nor its protgé have disclosed their funding status, although Hepner confirmed that the two firms have a total workforce of 180 employees.

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

  • BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA)

  • Butler Group

  • Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS)

  • Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) (NYSE: CSC)

  • Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS) (NYSE: EDS)

  • EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC)

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • VMware Inc.

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