Forman joins autonomic computing firm

Mark Forman, the former federal e-government czar, has resurfaced as head of worldwide services for a new software company aiming for a front line position in the emerging market for autonomic computing.

The firm, Cassatt Corp., was founded just a few weeks ago by Bill Coleman, former chairman and chief executive officer of BEA Systems. Forman was chosen in part because of his experience in government, which is expected to be a big piece of Cassatt's future business.

Autonomic computing enables systems within an enterprise to configure themselves according to changes in demand and other requirements, and to fix themselves in case of failures.

"We are entering a disruptive new phase of service-oriented, commodity-based enterprise computing," Coleman said in a statement.

Coleman said his company will provide systems and services for autonomic computing. Cassatt's solutions are a "necessary condition" to provide the security and scalability that future IT enterprises will need to successfully deploy applications such as Web services, Forman said in an interview.

Cost pressures are driving organizations toward cheaper, commodity computing and away from expensive, proprietary solutions that have dominated up to now, Forman said. That's why many large organizations are experimenting with such things as grid computing and Linux clusters, he said.

As that happens, the old model of data centers controlling a small number of large systems is giving way to data centers as networks comprised of many smaller, cheaper elements. However, that also greatly increases the complexity of an IT enterprise and the cost of its administration, something resource-strapped organizations will have trouble handling by traditional means.

While it's still very early in the development of autonomic computing, Forman said he believes there are already a number of government CIOs and executives that will be open to what Cassatt has to offer.

"Of course, there's still a good chunk of them who are still sitting on the fence waiting to see how all of this works out," he said. "But many of those who have already done their (enterprise) architectures would go for our solutions and software now, though it's those who are sitting on the fence that probably need our services more."

Cassatt is already installed at three customer sites,using the first iteration of the company's products, Forman said. It will probably take several years more before Cassatt will be ready to deliver the third iteration, he said, which will provide for fully scalable, highly reliable, secure enterprise IT assets.

Brian Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

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Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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