Ateji is closed

 

I have the sad task to announce that Ateji went out of business.

What happened ? We have designed and delivered great products (OptimJ and Ateji PX) that received an enthusiastic feedback from users and from the press (see our wall of fame at the end of this message). But we haven’t been able to secure a steady stream of revenue to support the company. The sentence is without mercy: no cash, no business.

The Ateji project

The idea behind the founding of Ateji was to create an ecosystem of language extensions targeted to different application domains. Just like what you have today with libraries, APIs or software components, but with a much greater expressivity permitted by a powerful language support.

As a simple example: consider writing a constraint using an API:

solver.add(eq(var("x"), add(var("y"), 1))

or writing the same constraint using a language extension (OptimJ):

constraint { x == y+1; }

Or imagine how you would express the parallel composition

a(); || b();

using a thread library (the answer is in the Ateji PX whitepaper, it requires twenty lines of deeply technical code).

APIs have a very, very limited expressivity. Having the right concepts, specific to the problem at hand, directly in the language has a major impact on developer productivity and code quality. This is not only about making the code less verbose, it helps humans maintain the code, and also helps computers analyze, verify or optimize the code at a higher level. Better, faster, cheaper.

This is the reason why so many domain-specific languages (DSLs) have been developed. But stand-alone DSLs have their own set of problems, such as isolation and poor tooling support. By designing language extensions, we have the benefit of DSLs while preserving compatibility with existing code, tools and training.

At Ateji we have solved many of the technical challenges, and some were really tough. But the business challenge was even tougher. Just mentioning the term “language” frightens prospects. It is comparatively much easier to have developers adopt a new library than a new language extension.

Adoption issues

We did anticipate that introducing a new language-based technology and getting it adopted would take a long time. The truth is, it takes much longer than anticipated. Many “new” languages that are coming into fashion now were first introduced 10 or 20 years ago.

There are however examples of companies that successfully built a business on a language. Think of Oracle and SQL. They had a strong business case: suddenly, all software developers became able to access databases in a simple and intuitive way. We thought we had a similar strong business case with Ateji PX and parallel programming: suddenly, all Java developers became able to write parallel code for multicore processors in a simple and intuitive way.

Our largest mistake has probably been to surf on the popularity of the Java language and on the hype of the “multicore crisis” (all software has to be adapted for the coming generation of new hardware) without developing a fine enough understanding of the market.  We discovered the hard way that Java developers just don’t want to hear about parallel programming, regardless of how easy we made it. They’d rather use only one core out of their expensive 16-core server than write parallel code (we’ve seen the case). They long for solutions that hide parallelism. This may change when 1000′s of cores become the norm, future will tell.

At the other end of the spectrum, developers that do parallel programming just don’t want to hear about Java, because 10 years ago it used to be slower than C++.

What this means for our users

The Ateji team is going to be dismantled, but we’ll keep answering requests on support@ateji.com as much as possible. We will do this as individuals on our free time so please be lenient.

All current software downloads are free

We are committed to keep OptimJ and Ateji PX alive and running. All current versions of Ateji software can now be downloaded for free, no strings attached. There are no restrictions on time or usage, you can even ship them as part of your application. Please be aware that the status of future releases may be different.

The future of the technology

We are currently actively investigating ways to keep the technology alive, such as partnership, acquisition or sponsorship. A number of business discussions are under way, I’ll keep you informed on this blog.

We are open to all suggestions, so please do not hesitate to contact me if you think about other ideas or opportunities to ensure the future of OptimJ and Ateji PX. Supporting the technology requires people, and we’re open to study job offers that go in this direction.

A tribute to all Ateji stakeholders

Many individuals contributed to the Ateji story: founders, employees, investors, advisors, consultants, interns and early adopters. To all of you, I want to express my thanks in supporting this project.

It turned out not to be a financial success, but I am convinced that the technologies we’ve developed contributed to the progress of software development. As an example, the clean design of Ateji PX makes it a language of choice for teaching parallel programming, and it has already be adopted by several universities as part of their curriculum.

I hope that the Ateji experience has been an important contribution to the personal development of all team members, and I wish you all farewell and best of luck for your career.

Wall of fame

To end on a positive note, I would like to recall here some recent testimonials we have received about our products. If you haven’t done so already, we’d be happy to hear about your experience with OptimJ or Ateji PX.

“Within a day, we got x5 boost on a major back office application”
Pascal Bourcier, Director Risk Department, Natixis Investment Bank France.

“Let me say what a wonderful product you have. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for many years”
Ahmed Riza, Senior Developer, J.P.Morgan

Ateji PX is a dream for Java developers
Stephen Jones, Product Line Manager for Developer Tools, NVIDIA

“Ateji PX is a revolutionary technology for parallelization”
Dr. Gourab Nath, Sr. Research Scientist,Amadeus France.

“Thank you for this brilliant piece of engineering”
Ala Shiban, Haifa University, Cancer Research Group, Israel

Press coverage

HPCwire – “Top Feature of the Week”
French Firm Brews Parallel Java Offering

DrDobbs Update
Think Parallel, Think Java

CRN Magazine - “Intel Labs Director interview” “We just completed an evaluation of Ateji’s product, and it does everything it promises,” said Intel’s European research director Martin Curley. He calls Ateji’s tool for the parallelization of Java code a “very smart idea”.
Parijs bedrijf biedt uitweg uit multi-core crisis (original, nl) or Paris company offers multi-core solution to crisis (Google translation, en)

IT Business Edge “[...] although multicore programming remains a challenge, Java developers at least may be on the verge of a breakthrough.”
Employing Software in the Fight for Energy Efficiency

 

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One Response to Ateji is closed

  1. ahriman says:

    Sad.