An in-depth research article by 451 Research Analyst Rhonda Ascierto. The article explains why large, Fortune 500 companies are selecting Cormant for their DCIM (Data Center Infrastructure Management) solution.
Article by Analyst: Rhonda Ascierto on 3 Mar, 2014
Cormant began as a connectivity management specialist about 10 years ago, and has since grown to become one of the more successful pureplay suppliers of datacenter infrastructure management (DCIM) software. The company remains relatively small, yet its flagship DCIM suite, Cormant-CS, is being deployed by large, high-profile organizations for day-to-day datacenter operational management.
The latest version of Cormant-CS includes new integrations and capabilities. The company also has some large partners that resell its software, including the cable management company HellermannTyton and, more recently, industrial networking giant Belden and major manufacturer Corning.
The 451 Take
Cormant competes against much larger rivals in the DCIM market, although it seems to be benefiting from being a pure-play supplier. Unlike large companies that supply DCIM (with the technology being a very small portion of their consolidated revenues), Cormant has no competitive overlap in other datacenter-technology sectors – combined with its background in connectivity management, this has enabled Cormant to attract sizeable resale partners, particularly those that have a datacenter-cabling focus. Cormant is proving to be a competitive supplier. While Cormant-CS does not match the breadth of capabilities of leading products, the software is strong in several areas.
The DCIM market is growing at more than 40% annually, but is crowded with more than 55 vendors that range from pure-play startups to large datacenter-equipment and enterprise-software suppliers. For a number of suppliers, strong DCIM revenue growth has been elusive.
Cormant, based in San Luis Obispo, California, was founded in 2001 as Cormant Technologies. It released its software product CableSolve in 2003, for connectivity and cable management. Since then, CableSolve has evolved into a complete DCIM suite and, in 2012, the product name was changed to Cormant-CS. Although Cormant-CS can also be used in non-datacenter buildings, it is increasingly being used in datacenters, and the
portion of its total sales from non-datacenter deployments (now about 20%) has shrunk steadily since 2009. Although 451 Research did not originally classify Cormant as a DCIM vendor, its positioning and its product capabilities now put it clearly in this area.
Cormant does not disclose its financials. We estimate it has DCIM revenue of between $5m and $10m. Cormant says it grew revenue by roughly 100% in 2013; most growth was from new customers. The company has about 25 employees, it says, which is about 10 fewer than in 2012, the result of a divestment of work not relating directly to Cormant-CS. The company is funded with founder capital, and has no venture funding or debt.
Management says it is not seeking funding or an exit strategy at present.
Roughly half of Cormant’s datacenter-related revenue is from North America, its fastest-growing geography. About 20% is from Australia, with the remainder split between Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Cormant resellers include Avantex in Australia, Com-Net in Canada and LanTroVision in Singapore, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia and Taiwan.
In late 2013, Cormant signed a global resale deal with US-based Belden, which included preconfiguring Cormant-CS for certain Belden monitoring devices of air flow, power and environment. Belden will offer Cormant-CS to both datacenter and non-datacenter industrial customers (for broader infrastructure management). Cormant-CS is Belden’s exclusive DCIM tool. By early 2014, the companies had closed a small number of joint sales.
Also in late 2013, Cormant signed a global resale partnership deal with Corning, the US-based manufacturer of display and telecommunications technologies. Corning sells optical fiber and cabling systems to datacenters and others. Most of Corning’s revenue is from outside the datacenter. Cormant also has a long-standing partnership with UK-based HellermannTyton, which in late 2005 began reselling Cormant-CS, branded as HellermannTyton iD.
Cormant has more than 250 customers (with paid-for deployments, and not including proof-of-concepts). A number of customers do not use all of Cormant’s DCIM features. Some of these customers also use DCIM products from other suppliers. Cormant’s customers are from a broad range of industries, including telecommunications, healthcare, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, energy and construction. It is also strong in financial services companies, such as AIG, the Australian Stock Exchange, Barclays Bank, and HSBC, as well as technology companies such as Cisco System and Hewlett-Packard, and government agencies, including the US Department of Defense and NATO. Customers mostly use Cormant-CS in existing datacenters.
Some Cormant deployments are large in scale. For example, one instance of Cormant-CS (on a single virtual machine) manages multiple datacenters for an unnamed bank with more than 22,000 racks or floor-standing devices (including storage arrays) combined. Cormant expects this deployment to reach more than 25,000 racks or devices in 2014, and says it could readily scale further. Another customer uses a single instance of the software to manage 185 datacenters in several countries.
Cormant-CS aggregates and normalizes data from multiple sources – ranging from power-distribution and networking equipment to databases and email – into one repository, to track and manage power, environmental and switch-port connectivity. The software enables managers to visualize and manage capacity, alerts and datacenter changes, including work orders.
One of Cormant-CS’s differentiators is its lifecycle management capabilities, which cover ‘cradle to grave’ tracking of devices, from purchasing to deployment (including asset moves between sites) to asset disposal. Cormant was also one of the first DCIM suppliers to focus on mobility: Cormant-CS integrates with a variety of handheld barcode readers and other mobile devices. The software reads barcodes, RFID and other tags and sensors, and QR (quick response) codes, as well as manufacturers’ labels. There are desktop, Web and mobile versions of Cormant-CS, including an offline version (in order to surface data when a Wi-Fi or mobile connection is lost).
New features in the latest version 7 of Cormant-CS, released in September 2013, include built-in network and device query alerts, which, combined with its offline (and indeed online) mobile-device-scanning capabilities, are a way to ensure asset-database accuracy. There is also enhanced capabilities in server-power monitoring, including monitoring of fan and CPU speeds, and improvements in the management of agreements for leased assets (specifically, being able to embed leasing-related information including agreements, emails, shared resource information, etc., within Cormant-CS).
Analysis and reports have been designed to be configurable by the end user via its custom report writer and/or open scripting features, which enable code to be written directly into the software (by end users, Cormant or third parties). There are also built-in and custom reports and metrics, which are extensive in terms of networking and connectivity analysis and include drag-and-drop configuration. Financial costing and C-level-type reports are mostly created with customized scripting. Scripting is typically used for specific configurations; for example, to enable power and environmental alerting in a rack that has multiple vendor PDUs.
Cormant-CS includes bidirectional APIs for certain third-party tools, including HP BTO infrastructure management software and BMC work-order management products. Cormant-CS also integrates with VMware hypervisors for virtual-machine tracking. New to version 7 is a bidirectional API with ServiceNow to coordinate asset databases. Other integrations, including with IT service management products, are supplied on a custom basis. Cormant-CS has limited what-if scenario-planning capabilities, but is looking to add more. Also on the roadmap are new features for automated device-location selections, displays of meta-connections between devices, and integration with ITIL process management and compliance.
Cormant has a fixed price list for its software, which ranges from roughly $27,000 for a small 3,000-square-foot (100 or so racks) datacenter to about $250,000 for a multisite, 3,000-plus rack deployment (and the cost scales for much larger deployments). Deployment and certain customization services are an additional cost.
Cormant competes most directly with other DCIM suite suppliers, including market leaders Emerson Network Power and Schneider Electric, whose core business is datacenter power and cooling equipment, as well as enterprise software maker CA Technologies, and the largest pureplay DCIM supplier (by revenue) Nlyte Software.
DCIM suppliers that are also particularly strong and have a background in connectivity management may be strong rivals to Cormant, including Panduit, iTRACS (now owned by CommScope), RiT Technologies and others. There are numerous other DCIM suppliers, but their feature sets may have less competitive overlap with Cormant’s.
Cormant is known for its strong connectivity management and asset lifecycle management capabilities, as well as its integration with a variety of mobile device platforms.
Cormant is a small company. It has limited scenario planning and automated device-location features. The software relies heavily on scripting for customization, which can be a benefit to some customers, but to others it will be considered a weakness.
The DCIM market is relatively immature and growing. Although crowded with suppliers, the market has room for proven pureplay specialists.
Much larger rivals are developing a broadening set of DCIM capabilities, and are enabling high levels of efficiencies by integrating with numerous IT management products.