Startup Tier44 Gives Power Assure’s Tech a Second Chance

Clemens Pfeiffer’s new firm buys all of the defunct vendor’s IP

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

November 18, 2014

3 Min Read
Startup Tier44 Gives Power Assure’s Tech a Second Chance
IP acquisition includes technology that enables app mobility between data centers based on power availability, energy rates, or participation in utility demand response programs (Photo: Colleen Miller)

Clemens Pfeiffer, former CTO of Power Assure, the data center management software vendor that went out of business earlier this year, has founded a new data center startup called Tier44 Technologies, which has bought all intellectual property associated with Power Assure’s technology.

Power Assure was a forward-looking company with support from major investors, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy, but failed to raise enough funding to keep going. Pfeiffer plans to continue with a similar product portfolio but change the focus from energy savings to reliability.

Santa Clara, California-based Tier44 is not simply Power Assure with a different name. “It’s significantly different, because we own it,” Pfeiffer, the new firm’s president and CEO, said. “None of the investors are moving along.”

The data center startup was incorporated in October, and the deal to buy the intellectual property closed this week. It is currently funded by the founding team, but that will change going forward, he said.

The technology that has changed hands includes data center infrastructure management solution EM/4 and its more recent release EM/5, as well as the capability to move applications from one data center to another and adjust IT capacity based on power availability, cost, or participation in utility demand response programs.

Market Appetite for Energy Savings Underwhelming

Tier44 is changing the messaging from energy savings (which was Power Assure’s shtick) to reliability and IT automation because the market doesn’t care about energy savings that much, Pfeiffer explained. Power Assure’s leadership learned the hard way that energy savings alone wasn’t enough to convince data center decision makers to buy its products.

The message is reliability improvements funded by energy savings down the road, he said. “And then it’s all about commercialization at this point.”

At least for the time being, Tier44 is not going to develop any new technology. Pfeiffer believes that Power Assure was way ahead of the market when it started, but now, six years later, the market is finally catching up.

Reliability via App Mobility

Its software enables reliability by automating failover from one data center to another in case of an outage. It involves a complex procedure that takes into account everything, including servers, network, storage, power, and cooling in the two data centers.

The closest technology out there is VMware’s vMotion, Pfeiffer said, but it focuses on VMs, without the broad consideration of physical resources Tier44’s technology takes.

Details on Power Assure’s Dissolution Scant

Power Assure was founded in 2007, and Pfeiffer was a member of the founding team. It raised more than $30 million from a number of investors, including the Swiss industrial automation giant ABB, and received a $5 million grant from the Department of Energy for its energy saving capabilities.

Pfeiffer said he did not have any details about the reasons behind the company’s dissolution, other than its inability to raise enough money. He and two other former Power Assure employees who formed Tier44’s founding team were all laid off in August.

“The only thing we know is we were able to buy the IP assets,” he said.

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