Marathon Hopes to Go the Distance with New CEO

9/14/09Follow @wroush

In 2004, Marathon Technologies abandoned its old hardware business to focus on “fault tolerance” software for Windows servers—programs that switch computing work from one server to another almost instaneously in the case of a hardware failure. Last year, in a move to adapt to the virtualization movement sweeping through the corporate IT world, Marathon brought out software that does the same thing for virtualized servers. Last month, the company raised $7 million in a Series B financing round led by Atlas Venture, Longworth Venture Partners, and Sierra Ventures. And today, the Littleton, MA-based startup is making one more big change: the company has announced that former IBM executive Jim Welch has joined as president and CEO, replacing former CEO Gary Phillips.

Welch tells Xconomy that Marathon has “a terrific technology foundation” that should appeal to more businesses as they stack more and more applications onto virtualized servers—meaning that these systems need to be just as reliable as traditional stand-alone servers. But Marathon hasn’t done a good job of explaining why its products are valuable, according to Welch; he says it’s been more focused on building great technologies than on figuring out what the market wants.

“I think you will see Marathon, under my leadership, very much transformed into a market-led company,” says Welch. “Under Gary’s guidance, the company grew phenomenally, but now it’s time to take that to a whole new level.”

At IBM, Welch was vice president and general manager of the InfoSphere data warehousing business. He’d been at Big Blue since its 2005 acquisition of Ascential Software, where, as vice president of product operations, he’d helped make the company into the leader in the $2 billion electronic data interchange (EDI) market.

Welch says that Marathon, which has 70 employees, will also build on its existing partnerships with Microsoft and Citrix to make its fault-tolerance and disaster recovery software work in more kinds of computing environments. “Today our tech is very much sold and used as a point solution,” protecting Windows servers, Welch says. “But the opportunity in the enterprise is obviously much more broad. I want to see us protecting Exchange servers or fetal heart monitors or whatever it may be. We need to continue to expand our capabilities for a heterogeneous world.”

Wade Roush is Chief Correspondent and Editor At Large at Xconomy. You can subscribe to his Google Group or e-mail him at wroush@xconomy.com. Follow @wroush

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