Startup launches a virtual provisioning tool for server farms

September 18, 2007

2 Min Read
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Five months after its debut as a virtualization automation provider, startup FastScale has added a provisioning product it claims can substantially improve the footprint of both physical and virtual servers.

FastScale's main product, FastScale Composer, automates the building and provisioning of a full software stack, sometimes called a "golden image," which is used to configure multiple servers in large enterprise environments. "We provision a bare metal server in seconds and run it out of memory," says FastScale CEO Lynn LeBlanc, who cofounded FastScale with partners Richard Offer, now the VP of engineering, and Stevan Vlaovic, now chief scientist.

The startup claims to be faster and take up less space than other IT automation vendors with a server provisioning focus, including Symantec subsidiary Altiris, BladeLogic, IBM Tivoli, and Opsware (recently bought by HP). Specifically, FastScale claims to shrink traditional software images by an average of 99 percent and configure them on bare-metal servers in less than one minute.

Key to FastScale's value proposition is that it automatically sizes a server image to fit the physical space available.

FastScale's new product, FastScale Virtual Manager, applies the same provisioning and dynamic sizing principle to virtual environments. The software automatically sizes the virtual resources to consume only the physical or virtual space they actually require.One customer, who requested anonymity, says FastScale's dynamic sizing capability is unique. He's also impressed with the startup's ability to scrunch server images. He says he's seen a 3- to 4-Gbyte Linux installation shrink down to 30 or 40 Mbytes with FastScale. "You'll probably get more shrinkage in Windows, but that's pretty compelling stuff," he says.

Besides releasing new software, FastScale is also steadily improving its public profile. It's joined VMware's roster of development partners and has similar deals going with IBM, Microsoft, and Red Hat. FastScale claims to have 11 customers, up from six in March, which are either deploying or evaluating its software. Among the evaluators is Agile Software, which offers product lifecycle management (PLM) programs and was acquired by Oracle for $495 million in July 2007.

Agile's SVP of information technology, Sunny Azadeh, endorses FastScale's product as unique. "It's the only solution that automatically streamlines the application environment being deployed," she states in FastScale's press release.

On the downside, FastScale can't claim to automate storage or networking aspects of IT, which could limit its future as an automation provider competing against the likes of HP. On the other hand, FastScale may someday find itself in the pocket of an OEM or technology partner seeking to add capabilities to an its automation roster. Stranger things have happened.

  • Altiris Inc. (Nasdaq: ATRS)

  • FastScale Technology Inc.

  • Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ)

  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)

  • IBM Tivoli

  • Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

  • Opsware Inc. (Nasdaq: OPSW)

  • Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT)

  • Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC)

  • VMware Inc.0

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