Visual Networks to Follow VARs to Market

By John Moore  |  Print this article Print


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Visual Networks aims to cultivate VAR partners to market its broadening network and application performance management product set.

Visual Networks Inc. aims to cultivate VAR partners to market its broadening network and application performance management product set.

The company on Monday launched its ProVisual Partner Program. The program will create a two-tier distribution channel for the company's flagship Visual UpTime Select and other offerings. Visual Networks has distribution arrangements in place with Interlink Communication Systems and Sprint North Supply. For participating resellers, the program will include market development funds, opportunity registration, pricing tools, sales collateral and an online demonstration system.

The VAR program follows the expansion of Visual Networks' product line. The company's traditional niche has been in monitoring the performance of private data networks. But since 2004, the company has widened its scope of products.

"We've moved up the stack into application performance management," noted David Peikin, director of marketing at Visual Networks.

The company in 2004 released application discovery, monitoring and reporting modules for Visual UpTime Select. Other modules are intended to help organizations manage voice-over IP and Citrix deployments. Visual Networks also offers Visual IP InSight, an IP service management system.

In light of this change in focus, the company now seeks "a broader role with the VAR channel," Peikin said.

"We're able to address a much larger market now," said Owen Brennan, vice president of channel sales at Visual Networks. He said the company has no specific VAR recruitment target, but noted that a couple dozen resellers wouldn't be an unreasonable roster.

EDS Pushes .Net Services

Electronic Data Systems Corp. has opened nine technology centers to focus on Microsoft .Net development.

Three centers are in the United States (Saginaw, Mich.; Kokomo, Ind.; and Redmond, Wash.). The others are in Canada, the United Kingdom, Egypt, New Zealand, India and Brazil. The centers will provide .Net development services to customers, using such products as Visual Studio 2005, SQL Server 2005 and BizTalk Server 2006.

EDS' Microsoft initiative follows Unisys Corp.'s bid to build a Microsoft consulting practice. In November, the company announced plans to devote 2,500 consultants to a group focused on business intelligence, analytical processing, enterprise application migration and other SQL Server-based solutions.

Oblicore courts outsourcers.

Oblicore Courts Outsourcers

Oblicore Inc. seeks to expand its footprint among service providers, which the company views as one of three major markets for its business service management products.

The company currently generates 10 percent to 12 percent of its business with service providers. Jack Freker, Oblicore's chief executive officer, said he sees the potential to double the company's business with outsourcers, systems integrators and consultants over the next 12 months.

Freker, who recently joined the company from outsourcer Convergys Corp., said service providers need tools to track and measure an outsourced business process. The company has been active in Europe, where such companies as T-Systems are among its customers.

Now, Oblicore is pursuing opportunities in the United States and India. In the latter country, the company recently landed a deal with a large outsourcing vendor and is negotiating a contract with a second vendor, according to Freker.

Oblicore isn't alone in marketing to service providers. BMC, Computer Associates International and Managed Objects also target that area.

What has software vendors beating a path to service providers' doors? For starters, vendors perceive services firms as a largely untapped market.

"Today, most outsourcers and clients sign very complex agreements," Freker said. "But most never really have a clear way to measure results."

Freker said that services entities tend to take an ad-hoc approach when deploying tools to support customer engagements. A vendor, he added, may use a client's in-house system, a home-grown system or a third-party system recommended by an outsourcing advisory firm such as EquaTerra Inc. or TPI Inc.

"I would say less than 25 percent have a standard that they use for all clients," Freker said.

Service providers, for their part, have an incentive to implement a more comprehensive service-management solution: the desire to avoid financial penalties. Eighty-eight percent of the service providers Oblicore surveyed in August said they use service-level agreements with financial penalties.

"It's a good business practice for them to have a tool in place to measure results in a day-in, day-out basis," Freker contended.

ClickFox, Convergys Ally

ClickFox Inc. on Monday unveiled an alliance with outsourcing vendor Convergys Corp., a move that marks the first in what could be a series of IT services partnerships.

ClickFox provides what the company terms a customer behavior intelligence solution. The software provides information on how customers interact with self-service systems such as interactive voice response (IVR) and Web-based customer support, and customer relationship management applications.

"Companies don't have visibility into the nature of the transactions occurring in self-service systems," said Michael Chavez, vice president of marketing at ClickFox. "They are like a black box." ClickFox, Chavez added, provides a sense of how customer traffic flows across the self-service applications.

Convergys will integrate ClickFox solutions into its Customer Management Professional Services offerings, while ClickFox will tap Convergys as a preferred hosting provider of ClickFox applications.

Services firms such as Convergys may design and manage self-service systems for customers and, thus, provide a market for ClickFox software, Chavez explained.

Chavez said Convergys represents ClickFox's first formal arrangement with a services firm, noting that the software company works on a "case-by-case" basis with other vendors. He said the company anticipates additional formal agreements with service providers.

John writes the Contract Watch column and his own column for the Channel Insider.

John has covered the information-technology industry for 15 years, focusing on government issues, systems integrators, resellers and channel activities. Prior to working with Channel Insider, he was an editor at Smart Partner, and a department editor at Federal Computer Week, a newspaper covering federal information technology. At Federal Computer Week, John covered federal contractors and compiled the publication's annual ranking of the market's top 25 integrators. John also was a senior editor in the Washington, D.C., bureau of Computer Systems News.


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