Year-old start-up Cassatt has launched a new service for automating IT operations using grid technology.

Cassatt will aid the management and aggregation of a large number of machines, said Rich Green, its VP of products, and a former vice president of Java and tools at Sun. Also part of Cassatt are its chairman/CEO Bill Coleman, who held the same positions at BEA, and CTO Rob Gingell, who was a chief engineer at Sun.

"The focus here is all about horizontally scaled systems out of commodity hardware, and to make that work requires technology that is not available in [existing] products," Green said, referring to, among others, CA's Unicenter and HP's OpenView

Asked if Cassatt was pursuing grid computing, Green acknowledged that the term could be appropriate: "Grid is a term that certainly could be applied here, but grid tends to be associated with the high-performance computing space."

The company's Collage Version 2 product, shipping now, is intended for running large-scale enterprise applications on commodity Linux servers, according to Cassatt officials. Collage also includes the virtualisation of storage, operational systems, and data.

Version 3, due this winter, enables three-tier deployments and adds Windows as a supported platform. Tiers could include software such as databases, application and Web servers, and data transformation engines.

Cassatt's virtualisation technologies mean the network and number of applications can be expanded without having to make software or network changes, Green said.

Users are moving to commodity systems and the software market is moving from monolithic applications to Web services and service-oriented architectures, said Steve Levine, Cassatt's marketing VP, and former vice president of marketing at Oracle. "That creates an opportunity to provide an operations environment that makes it easier and more effective and reduces the cost and complexity of managing commodity servers," Levine said.

Collage can be thought of as virtual environment software, said IDC analyst Dan Kusnetzky. "It allows you to build applications that run on a collection of machines on high-volume, low-cost, industry-standard systems," Kusnetzky said. The software provides for workload failover and enables functions such as I/O to be done separately from the application processing, he said.

Collage costs $1,500 per node, with each piece of hardware on the network representing a node. While Collage currently is focused on systems linked in a single location, support for distributed systems over a wide area is a future direction.