Centeris Corp. emerged from stealth mode to release the public beta version of its Likewise 1.0 software for managing Linux servers in a Microsoft Corp. Windows network Wednesday. The startup also announced it had raised over $5 million in venture capital funding.
With many IT managers in midrange and enterprise companies struggling to manage combinations of Windows and Linux servers, Centeris hopes it’s identified a strong market opportunity.
“The two platforms don’t work well together,” Barry Crist, Centeris chairman and chief executive officer, said in a phone interview Wednesday. “We allow Linux servers to have a specific role in a Windows network.” The company is adopting a middle position or central point between Windows and Linux, hence its name, while its Likewise product name points to the ability to manage one environment just like the other, he added.
Likewise 1.0 is made up of several components. A systems administrator installs Likewise Console on their Windows machines and remotely installs Likewise Agent on their Linux servers. The administrator can then use Likewise Console to configure Linux server roles and join them to Microsoft’s Active Directory. Then the administrator can manage and monitor Linux servers through Likewise Console and Microsoft Management Console (MMC).
The startup held a closed beta for its software with 20 users, according to Crist. Centeris expects to release the final version of Likewise 1.0 in December, he said. Pricing is already finalized at $350 for a perpetual license per server managed. “We want to make it very easy for customers to do business with us,” Crist said. “People don’t like the subscription pricing model as much as a perpetual license.” The company also plans to offer support for Likewise at a cost yet to be determined.
Centeris has plans to open source a subset of Likewise later this year, according to Crist. The company is due to provide further details on the open-source product, including its name, next week at the Open Source Business Conference (OSBC) East taking place in Newton, Massachusetts, Nov. 1-2. Centeris may provide paid support for the open-source component of Likewise, he said.
The company’s ultimate aim is to have the open-source software ship with Linux operating systems distributions, Crist said. Centeris is already in talks with Linux distributors as well as other potential partners, he added, with some announcements likely later this year. Until then, “We’ll sell in a very efficient direct sales model,” Crist said.
The company has raised $5.35 million in Series A funding from Ignition Partners LLC. Ignition is a venture capital firm set up in 2000 in part by former senior Microsoft executives including Cameron Myrhvold, Brad Silverberg and Richard Fade, all three of whom have been actively involved in the funding of Centeris. Both Myrhvold and Fade serve on the Centeris board of directors. “They’ve been tremendous partners to us,” Crist said. “They’re very interested in what’s going on.”
The Series A funding will take Centeris past the middle of next year, according to Crist. Over the coming two months, the company will start looking for Series B funding and expects other VCs to contribute to that financing round, he said.
Centeris is based in Bellevue, Washington. The company begun work on Likewise in August of 2004, incorporating as a company and closing its funding in the following month.
“In the past year we’ve been very R&D [research and development] centric,” Crist said. “Over the past two months we’ve had more of a sales and marketing focus.” The company currently employs about 30 people and Crist expects that figure to rise to 50 by year-end with the growth coming in the additional hiring of sales and marketing staff.
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