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4/11/2013
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CA Technologies Sues AppDynamics: 3 Patents Key

CA lawsuit involves app performance technology acquired when it bought Wily Technology.

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CA Technologies has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against AppDynamics, accusing the company of violating three patents CA obtained with its $375 million purchase of Wily Technology in 2006. CA filed a similar suit against the up and coming application performance management firm, New Relic, last November.

The suit represents the heightened stakes over systems able to troubleshoot, isolate and fix performance problems in running applications. It's a field that has attracted the attention of several startups, in addition to AppDynamics and New Relic. CA Technologies appears to be defending what it believes is a leading technology position in a market beginning to be populated by startups and affected by deals. OpNet, for example, a company focused on transaction performance in the field of application performance, was acquired Dec. 18 by Riverbed.

In an age when customer response times may be measured in milliseconds, Wily's product, Introscope, illustrated how Java applications could be examined and problem code could be identified for further work by developers to trim response times and enhance overall performance.

Newcomer New Relic gained prominence after the 2012 election because it was the application performance management system used by the technology team of the Democratic Party. On Election Day, the Democrats' Narwhale applications were viewed as a factor in identifying precincts where get-out-the-vote efforts could do the most good. New Relic sponsored a tour of the team to Chicago and San Francisco, where it talked about the effectiveness of application performance management.

[ Learn why application performance management is a hot field for product development. Read Why Application Performance Management Matters Now. ]

It's not generally known that New Relic was also used by the Republican technology team as well. But its team's Orca applications froze up anyway, due to the Election Day strains put on them.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, New Relic signed up a thousand paying customers from among 35,000 active accounts using its free application monitoring service. In February, New Relic said it had collected $80 million from eight venture capital firms and was planning to do an IPO sometime in the future. "We want money to expand," said COO Chris Cook in an interview after the venture capital announcement.

Wily pioneered performance analysis for Java applications, and its Introscope product is still a primary CA product line. Under CA, Introscope has been extended to analyze different types of Web applications, apps written in Python and other dynamic languages, SAP Netweaver and ABAP applications and Microsoft .Net applications, as well as Java apps.

The suit against AppDynamic brings back into the spotlight a former senior Wily Technologies executive, Jyoti Bansal, who joined CA with the Wily acquisition. He later left CA to create AppDynamics.

"CA Technologies takes seriously what it believes to be willful and deliberate patent infringement. We will take all steps necessary to ensure that our intellectual property is protected," said Richard Donoghue, chief counsel for litigation for CA Technologies.

Another former Wily executive is targeted in the New Relic suit. Lew Cirne, founder of Wily, is the co-inventor of two of the three patents named by CA in both suits. Cirne joined CA with the acquisition of Wily but left after a short period and eventually founded New Relic. CA said in its complaint that it acquired the three patents with Wily as part of Wily's intellectual property, and New Relic was infringing on them.

One of the techniques pioneered by Wily that is now in broader use was the identification and snapshot capture of poor performing code, so that troubleshooters could play it back separately and try to determine where the issue lay.

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