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May 26, 2010

Start-up promises app automation for virtual worlds

Nolio, a start-up that says it does application service management that helps companies automate data centre processes in the new era of virtualisation and cloud, has come out of stealth mode and is officially launching next week, CBR has learned

By Jason Stamper

Founded in 2007 by ex-Mercury Interactive engineers and managers, the company actually claims to have around 20 customers already, some of which put the firm’s application service automation platform into production while it was still in beta.

Speaking to CBR, Eran Sher, EVP products and business development, said that the technology has become vital for companies that are now struggling to handle applications deployment, configuration management and optimisation now that they are deploying them to virtualised servers and private or public clouds.

All the automation tools for the data centre to date have focused on the infrastructure – servers, storage, the network, said Sher. We are focused on helping to manage the day to day around applications: release management, deployment, patch management, configuration management. Companies are realising that in the move from physical to virtual, and with private and public clouds, they can no longer handle this manually or just with scripting.

Sher believes that a gap has emerged in this space as sys admins don’t always have the necessary skills to handle such application service automation, and neither do the developers. Yet companies are relying more and more on these applications to be regularly changed and indeed optimised.

We’re seeing the convergence of these roles in many companies into a role combining development and operations skills – ‘devops’, says Sher. They have to develop new skillsets in the virtual era but they also need new toolsets – that’s what we are providing.

The firm, which is headquartered in Israel and is just opening an office in Silicon Valley, has customers like spread betting company City Index, ITV, LivePerson and on its roster. It has taken on around $10m in venture capital funding, and is in no rush to break even just yet, with cash in the bank and committed investors.

Companies like LivePerson use Nolio’s technology to help to automate the deployment, provisioning, patch management, configuration management and roll-back processes for its software as a service (SaaS) applications, which handle a million web-based chat messages per day.

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Nolio’s technology is on-premise, and Java-based, hence multi-platform. Sher said that the company could look to develop a SaaS version if the business model makes sense, but today it is concentrating on building its sales presence in North America and Europe.

Sher notes that 60% of application failures in the data centre are the result of human errors: the argument is that automating many application processes that are usually handled manually can reduce such errors and hence application failures.

The founders of Nolio first saw the potential for such application service automation while building the Topaz software as a service technology at Mercury Interactive. We had all this pain trying to manage all the application changes and we realised it couldn’t be done manually or with scripts. That’s when we knew we were onto something, said Sher. The firm isn’t at but


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