Back in June, I introduced you to Transitive via this interview with Transitive’s Vice President of Marketing Ian Robinson. The excitement for me was the cross-virtualization platform provider’s expanding distribution channel, in light of a trend to decreasing virtualization-software distribution options via Citrix’s (CTRX) acquisition of Xen, the oddball EMC (EMC)/VMware (VMW) arrangement, and Microsoft (MSFT) coming to market with its hypervisor embedded in Windows, partially based on acquiring Softricity.
But it turns out to have been a “Prague spring” for information technology (IT) users because IBM (IBM) is acquiring the virtualization startup with what looked to me like IT-user-liberating technology. For investors, who admittedly have a lot more on their minds, it means another IPO that will never see the light of day. It also might mean another nail in Sun’s (JAVA) coffin as well (although conversely all the nails already in Sun’s coffin probably pushed Transitive into IBM’s arms).
I felt in the spring that “Transitive has a shot at becoming the most important IT company you’ll never deal with directly” (speaking of IT users) becuase of its wide acceptance by systems suppliers. For the enterprise, Transitive—working from labs at what some would argue is the birthplace of IT, the University of Manchester-- developed software to virtualize server virtualization. Transitive had major distributors including Fujitsu-Siemens, Hitachi, HP (HPQ), and Sun as well as IBM. Transitive also has major OEM agreements with Apple and IBM to provide other specialized types of virtualization and that is what IBM is buying into, most likely to the detriment of the server virtualization software.
Transitive’s software — called QuickTransit — sits between the hypervisor of system-supplier choice and many existing non-X86 applications and helps eliminate the need for porting such applications as users eliminate legacy hardware in their data centers. Robinson euphemistically calls this “server refresh,” but it is really the systems supplier’s worst nightmare because it gives users a chance to break the suppliers' lock on them.
On IBM Power systems, as highlighted in the November 18 press release, Transitive's technology works a little differently but the principle is the same: without porting, the software runs “without source code or binary changes,” according to Robinson in June. Transitive has good partnerships with Citrix/Xen, Microsoft and EMC/VMware to make sure the hypervisor layers do their thing. Down at the bare metal, Transitive works with AMD (AMD), IBM and Intel (INTL).
Surely all of the above list of industry players will dwindle to one-IBM. There isn’t even the usual false hope in the press release that business will continue as before.