Cloud enablement

Grid Startup Grabs Funding

Univa Corp. today clinched $8 million in Series A funding in a move that could add momentum to open-source grid computing.

The startup plans to launch subscription-based software tools for installing, managing, and configuring Globus middleware, which will be offered with services and professional support by Univa (see Grid Startup Hits the Source).

The Globus Alliance is an industry group that has developed an open-source middleware toolkit for building grid systems and applications (see Vendors Form Globus Consortium). So far, Globus is the only available solution for open-source grid software, as standards have yet to be written, and commercial open-source vendors such as Red Hat Inc. (Nasdaq: RHAT) are focused on Linux.

Univa claims its adaptation of open-source to specific applications fully exploits the technology in ways not done by rivals such as IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) and Platform Computing (see Opening Up the Data Center and Red Hat Goes for Government). Both competitors already have product offerings built around the Globus toolkit.

To release its first products by year's end, the Elmhurst, Ill.-based supplier will rely heavily on partnerships, according to Steve Tuecke, the company’s founder and CEO. Univa is looking for channel partners and systems integrators to offer the bulk of professional support that goes with its packaged middleware, enabling the startup to focus mainly on its own technology.

Univa recently announced a partnership with Raytheon Co. Tuecke says that “there are several more [deals] well along in the pipeline." He confirms that Univa's talked to IBM, potentially a rival in this space, about the possibility of a partnership, but he is mum on the outcome.

Univa, which has just 15 employees, will also bulk up staff. "By the end of this year we expect to be in the vicinity of double where we are now." Specifically, Tuecke is looking to bolster Univa’s engineering teams as well as adding employees in management, marketing, and quality assurance.

What about customer interest? ”We’re seeing a lot of activity in financial services and some of the large-scale technical computing markets such as energy, engineering, and government," Tuecke says, adding that some of the larger government agencies have expressed interest.

Certainly, there is growing momentum behind Globus middleware at the moment. Last week, for example, the National Science Foundation awarded $150 million to the Globus-based TeraGrid project. The TeraGrid, which is hosted by the University of Texas at Austin, aims to link the processing power of several supercomputing sites across the U.S (see TACC Receives NSF Reward and Supercomputers Boost Grid Computing).

Univa was founded last year by Tuecke; Ian Foster, the company’s chief open-source strategist; and Carl Kesselman, who is Univa’s chief scientist. Foster is also associate director of the Argonne National Lab, and Kesselman is the director of the Center for Grid Technologies at the Information Sciences Institute. Tuecke is a former software engineer at the Argonne lab, where he worked for Foster. The three execs also founded the Globus Project in 1995, which has now morphed into the Globus Alliance.

Will there be another round anytime soon? Unlikely, says Tuecke: “We have the money that we need at this point to get us into 2007."

The round was led by Arch Venture Partners and New World Ventures. Appian Ventures and OCA Ventures also took part.

— James Rogers, Site Editor, Next-Gen Data Center Forum

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