Cirba Has Capacity to Control Virtualisation Sprawl

Canadian company Cirba has the technology to wed IT capacity with workload demands

Among all the hype, chatter about revolutionary changes in technology and so on, one trend probably gets less attention than it merits. Google indexed the world’s information, Amazon has reinvented retail and has become the global supply-chain and product depot. But with its ability to virtualise x86 and other servers, VMware forever changed datacentre economics and the way we consume the digital building blocks of ICT. Perhaps because it’s a business-to-business phenomenon, virtualisation doesn’t get the same levels of attention but it’s a deeply significant shift.

Gerry Smith ponders this when we meet for coffee in Brighton. A Canadian with a quick wit and a ready laugh, Smith says “building blocks” is apposite because he is CEO at Cirba and often refers to its software in terms of Tetris, the ancient computer game where blocks fall into place if the player has the skill and knowledge to control them properly. Cirba focuses on routing workloads to the appropriate environments, reserving IT capacity and allowing datacentre managers to apply policies and rules that can be based on analytics.

Smith’s contention is that, as with any major shift, CIOs are only now getting to grips with virtualisation at an advanced level. Of course, they are already getting the standout benefits of server utilisation, lower hardware spend and energy efficiency but advanced automation remains exceptional apart from at the biggest, smartest IT shops, he argues. But today, more and more companies are gearing up for big change programmes to make their datacentres intelligent, reduce admin time, make the most of software licences and make more of their investments in VMware and other virtualisation software.                     

“The reality is that IT is going to be like a utility,” he says. “We obfuscate all the complexity and ensure the environment is safe, efficient and it delivers all of what it’s supposed to do.”

Smith contends that this is a space about to become very hot indeed as CIOs squeeze every cent out of budgets.

“The truth of the matter is that we’re out in front of a tsunami,” he says. “We have this intelligent brain that drives enormous efficiency. We have the analytics to balance supply and demand… it’s a control mechanism for cloud capacity.”

It’s a formula that can save customers up to tens of millions of dollars each, he adds.

By the standards of today where infant firms win valuations measured in billions, 15-year-old Cirba might appear to have been something of a slow burn. Smith founded and led his previous company, IT governance firm Changepoint, to a sale to Compuware in 2004 for $100m but says he is not looking for an exit. The company has just enjoyed its best ever quarter and the opportunity is large, he adds. As for funding, Cirba has raised about $40m mostly from VC.

Cirba doesn’t name too many of its customers, although they include Bank of America, Cisco, and Telus. And if a good way to judge a private company in this field is by the company it keeps, Cirba looks attractive. It is partnering with big boys like Intel, Wipro, Dell, BT, IBM, HP and Cisco and recently joined Red Hat’s ManageIQ Community that is instituting enterprise-grade governance controls on OpenStack, the widely used open source software for companies moving to private and public clouds.

 “Soon, small and mid-sized companies won’t have an IT department anymore and the big companies need to automate to the nth degree,” Smith says. “It’s happening right now.”


Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect