Altometrics Blog

Intelligence Amplification, Data Visualization

Company Sees Future in Clouds

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The following article appeared in the News & Observer on Monday, February 21, 2011. The article, originally posted here [this link is broken and no replacement could be found -editor], was written by Yunzhu Zhang.

Two local entrepreneurs are determined to make the Internet faster by creating a new approach to cloud computing management.

Altometrics, formed last year, aims to give cloud computing providers like Hosted Solutions and others a fast and robust tool to provide better services, said Sir Robert Burbridge, a former software engineer at Cisco who is Altometrics' chief executive officer.

Cloud computing is like a rental service, providing end users server space without requiring their knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system. However, within the large network traffic, sometimes slowdowns happen, and it is hard to figure out the causes.

Altometrics' goal is to help cloud computing providers, such as Terremark, Hosted Solutions and Rackspace, diagnose problems and fix them quickly and efficiently.

“We are asking the right questions about performance, which is how people are affected,” said Jeff Terrell, chief technology officer of Altometrics, who received his Ph.D. in computer science from UNC-Chapel Hill and turned his doctoral dissertation work into a business.

Terrell and Burbridge first met in church in Chapel Hill, discovered their shared interests, and launched the company in May 2010.

Last year, the entrepreneurs received a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Science Foundation, an independent federal agency created by Congress. The award came with $30,000 in matching funds from the N.C. Office of Science and Technology.

Terrell said getting the award has made a huge difference. Before they got the money, Terrell was working 20 hours a week as a Web programming freelancer. Burbridge, a father of three, was working full time. They both could devote only half of their time to this company.

“Now we can give all of our time and our working hours to this, and hire a third software engineer,” Terrell said.

Help from launch pad

The birth of Altometrics was under the help of the Carolina Launch Pad, which offered the founders a 1,000-square-foot “class A” office space, which includes Internet access, storage space and phone, in the Europa Building on U.S. 15-501. The program is a pre-commercial business accelerator that provides these early-stage firms prototyping, concept proving and business planning.

The launch pad is a joint effort of three entities - RENCI (Renaissance Computing Institute), UNC’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business, and the Office of Technology Development - said David Knowles, director of economic development and regional engagement of RENCI.

Since their technology is new, Burbridge said, they have not yet established a relationship with cloud providers, but as they complete their research and development, they eagerly anticipate bringing products and services to market.