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What: Centeris, based in Bellevue.

What it does: Develops software for managing and integrating Linux and Windows servers, including tools for managing Linux servers in a Windows environment.

Starting up: Founders from Microsoft, Mercury Interactive and Keynote Systems saw the growing mix of Windows and Linux and how they don’t work well together. They began work on Centeris early last year and incorporated in September 2004.

Key executives: CEO Barry Crist started at Apple Computer and later was vice president at Mercury. Manny Vellon, vice president of products, and Brian Moran, chief architect, came from Microsoft. Lee Finck, vice president of sales, came from F5, and Chuck Mount, vice president of marketing, worked at Microsoft, America Online and Keynote.

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Employees: 30, with target of 50 in 2006.

Funding: Initial round from Ignition Partners will take company past midyear 2006. In initial discussions for next round.

Major customers: Twenty companies, including IBM and Novell, are beta-testing flagship product.

The minefield: “Our biggest threat is to make sure that we can navigate the hostile territory between Microsoft and the Linux community without getting pulled into the fray,” said Crist. “We want to make it easier for our customers to use Linux and Windows together and at the same time stay away from the zealots that oppose this integration.”

Outlook: “We have a strong list of beta customers that have been incredibly enthusiastic about our approach,” Crist said. “We have several strong partnerships developing, which we’ll announce later this year. We have a strong cash position and are managing our money carefully. “

What’s hot: Linux is growing fast; it’s the No. 2 server operating system behind Windows Server. Today, a majority of companies run Windows and Linux, and they face challenges in integrating Linux and Windows.

The name? Suggestive of Centeris’ approach to the market. “We occupy the center ground between today’s dominate operating systems — Windows and Linux,” Crist said.

— Brier Dudley