Showing posts with label InterfaceTechNews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label InterfaceTechNews. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 16, 2002

Hyperwave funding to expand U.S. sales operation

Published in Interface Tech News

WESTFORD, Mass. ‹ Knowledge management company Hyperwave ‹ with headquarters in Munich, Germany and North American offices based outside Boston ‹ has secured its targeted $18 million in second-round funding, and plans to expand its sales force in New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and California.

Its flagship product, eKnowledge Infrastructure, is aimed at government, media firms, financial businesses, and pharmaceutical and biotech companies, according to company spokesman Chris Gregoire. In November 2001, the company released a major upgrade to the software package, which integrates document management, e-learning, and employee collaboration applications.

"Collaboration for us is the big thing," Gregoire said, citing work within companies and between firms and clients.

Founded in 1997, Hyperwave does not expect to pursue a third round of financing, but instead, is planning for an IPO at an unspecified future date, Gregoire said.

That may be a way off, according to senior analyst John Hughes at Delphi Group. Hughes has been following Hyperwave for several years, and said the company is doing well in its market niche, but is suffering ‹ along with its competitors ‹ in economic conditions that are less than optimal.

Hughes expects the company to remain ahead of the curve and bounce back more quickly than some of its competition, due primarily to its strength overseas.

"They've got some real respect and a notable following in Europe," Hughes said.

He went on to say that Hyperwave's task now is to get some success stories in the U.S., so it can point to real dollar savings when courting new customers.

"They just need to get that value statement out there to people who control budgets," Hughes said.

That is exactly what Gregoire claims the company plans to do.

"We know that we need to put the U.S. market on the map," he said.

Thursday, April 4, 2002

Final Mile prepares to double staff

Published in Interface Tech News

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. ‹ Final Mile Communications has relocated its headquarters from Newington, N.H. to the Pease Tradeport.

As a result of the new location's increased space, additional services, and simplified logistics, the company expects to double its staff this year, beginning in April.

A new network operations center (NOC) to be constructed at Pease should be operational in late summer 2002, according to company spokesman Frank Budelman.

The search for the space began in late 2001, and has only now concluded with the departure of another company from Pease. The location is good for the company's communications and travel needs, Budelman said, providing easier access to highways for service technicians and other transportation infrastructure for shipping and receiving.

Final Mile spun out of Cabletron in the fall of 1999 and serves schools, colleges, hospitals, law firms, and other clients with high-capacity data networks, by providing wiring, collocation, and network maintenance.

When the NOC is completed, Budelman said, the company should be able to offer more services to more clients, with increased efficiency. "We'll be able to do everything to the desktop," he added.

Increased IT services are the next target for Final Mile, as well as expanding the company's client base. Budelman said the privately held company's position is solid, with around $10 million in annual revenue.

"We're in business and we don't plan to go out of business," he said. Staffing increases, he said, would be incremental based on the size of projects in the works.

Reports from the Aberdeen Group released in 2001 indicate not only that IT spending will climb by about 10 percent annually through 2005, but that field service support will be increasingly important to companies, whether they outsource or provide in-house services.

Tuesday, March 26, 2002

N.H. PUC opens copper to ISPs

Published in Interface Tech News

CONCORD, N.H. ‹ Bringing closure to a three-year-old controversy, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission has ordered Concord-based Verizon New Hampshire to provide so-called "dry copper loops" to the state's Internet Service Providers on a trial basis.

The case arose in 1999 as a result of telephone network congestion that prevented residential phone customers from dialing 911 in an emergency. The cause for the congestion, which appears to no longer be a problem, was believed to be increased use of dial-up Internet connections.

One proposed solution to the congestion was giving ISPs access to copper circuitry already installed throughout the state, over which they could deliver high-speed Internet service off the telephone network.

The state's ISPs are happy about the development, with Brian Susnock, president of the Nashua-based Destek Networking Group, trumpeting "a landmark decision" that is "a major turning point" in the abilities of ISPs to offer high-speed Internet accesss at low prices.

"We're very excited about it," said Jeff Gore, CEO of Londonderry-based FCG Networks. Gore said he expects to participate in the trial as soon as it begins.

The new product will be part of a revision to the Verizon's existing Series 1000 tariff, governing BANA or alarm circuits, which currently cost $32 per month. Susnock said he hopes the dry copper offering will cost less.

Monday, March 25, 2002

Cerylion draws investors, eyes customers

Published in Interface Tech News

WOBURN, Mass. ‹ Surpassing its own expectations for second-round fund-raising, Cerylion raised $7.6 million ‹ $2.5 million more than it had projected ‹ from investors supporting its development of what the company calls "personal Web services" for wireless communications networks.

The new funding will be used to increase marketing efforts and continue research and development, according to company CEO Ilan Rozenblat. The company's R&D section is primarily in Israel, where Rozenblat got his start in the technology sector.

The basic thrust of the company's services are connections between specific events and activities. The company's example is that booking a flight could trigger automatic rental-car and hotel reservations and e-mail notes to people at the destination asking for meetings.

Cerylion's major customer prospects are mobile telephone companies, but the company has only one major customer at present,, an AOL-TimeWarner subsidiary based in southern Louisiana.

Rozenblat said the company is hoping for an "upsell" to other AOL-TimeWarner companies, and is also targeting Verizon Wireless in the tier-one range of mobile services companies. But most of the prospects, he said, are tier-two, in keeping with the company's philosophy of moving in small steps.

"We are building a sustained business for the long run," Rozenblat said.

The challenge, according to Delphi Group senior analyst Larry Hawes, is two-fold. The space is ill-defined, Hawes said, and may be heading in another technological direction: wireless Web services.

"Web services is quickly becoming more accepted," Hawes said. That makes Cerylion's technology harder to sell, even though Hawes thinks it is actually better at relating objects to each other.

Hawes said the company primarily needs customers, and needs to expand its growth beyond the word-of-mouth means it has relied on so far.

With an early-March launch of a new version of its suite, and with the additional capital injection, the company said it is ready to take on the marketing challenge.

Monday, March 4, 2002

Convergent ready to serve RBOCs

Published in Interface Tech News

LOWELL, Mass. ‹ Moving to offer its products to a wider market of larger companies, Convergent Networks has put its ICS2000 broadband switch through the testing process in order to assure buyers it will properly integrate with new and legacy telephone network equipment.

"Now we can plug-and-play," said Carl Baptiste, Convergent's director of product marketing.

The process, designed by Telcordia (formerly Bellcore) and called OSMINE, is a nine-month sequence of testing and documentation designed to ensure equipment functions reliably as part of the telephone system.

Convergent is now engaged in talks with Regional Bell Operating Companies (RBOCs), and is confident of making sales soon.

Other Convergent customers ‹ about 30 CLECs around the country ‹ are in the process of installing the switches in their systems, Baptiste said.

"We certainly have customers who have money and are spending with us," he said. "Next-gen equipment is one of the bright spots."

The privately held company does not release much financial information, but it has 200 employees and revenues in the tens of millions of dollars, Baptiste said. The company's existing customer base bills three billion minutes per month of telephone traffic on Convergent equipment, he said. But the prospect of a major carrier as a customer has the company thinking bigger.

"Winning one of those networks could be as big as all of the business we've done, over time," Baptiste said. Finding a small bit of Verizon's $17 billion annual capital expenditure budget is one target, he said.

The company hopes to draw big customers not only with standard-compliant equipment, but also with next-generation telephone features and continued inter-working between packet and PSTN voice systems.

Yankee Group senior analyst Mindy Hiebert said the company knows what it is talking about. "Convergent is serious about going after these service providers," she said. The company has been buckled down in the testing phase for several months now, and the company may have to wait until later this year for marketing efforts to really pay off.

Also, Hiebert said, the RBOCs might not make big moves until they are challenged by smaller competitors. But, she said, the possible buyers are big companies that have real money to spend, when they open their checkbooks.

Thursday, February 28, 2002

Verizon-ISP battle may be nearing conclusion

Published in Interface Tech News

CONCORD, N.H. ‹ Continuing a case opened in 1999, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has received closing briefs from all parties concerned in the increasingly contentious network congestion-dry copper broadband access dispute, but a timetable for further action remains unclear. There may also be broader repercussions, affecting Verizon New Hampshire's rates for all services in the state, and its ability to offer long-distance telephone service to New Hampshire customers.

In 1999, all parties agree, 911 access was unavailable in certain New Hampshire communities due to network congestion, which was blamed on the wide use of dial-up Internet service. In response, the PUC opened a case to figure out how to solve the problem.

One proposal, put forward by the New Hampshire Internet Service Providers Association (NHISPA), was to allow ISPs access to so-called "dry copper" (copper wire pairs with no equipment attached to them) so the ISPs could offer low-cost broadband Internet access, reducing the load on the telephone network.

Verizon New Hampshire now claims that the network congestion problem has been solved through the installation of additional equipment. Some PUC officials agree, adding that there have been no reports of this type of network congestion since June 2001.

"The network congestion issue has been solved," said Verizon New Hampshire spokesman Erle Pierce. As a result, he said, the discussion over whether his company should offer dry copper loops to ISPs is now moot, although he admits the ISPs could bring it up in a separate PUC case if they choose.

At least one ISP disagrees that the congestion is solved, and insists that dry copper is the way out.

"Lines are busy all the time," said Brian Susnock, president of the Nashua, N.H.-based Destek Group, which also has a federal suit pending against Verizon New Hampshire, alleging the company engaged in improper procedures regarding exceptions to standard tariffs.

Susnock said the PUC changed the reporting standards to allow more congestion, a charge PUC telecommunications director Kate Bailey denied.

Other allegations of PUC staff problems can be found in the filings.

From the NHISPA: "(The) staff's position is totally unsupportable and has no basis in fact, experience, or technology."

And from the Town of Northampton Cable TV-Broadband-Telecom Committee: "I suggest to you that your staff does not understand what is going on out in the real world of telecommunications, and that this lack of knowledge is problematic."

Bailey denied those charges, and protested their inclusion in official documents. "It was extremely rude to say the things that they did," she said. "I don't believe (our) staff said anything technically wrong."

She added that the ISPs could become CLECs ‹ regulated entities ‹ and gain access to dry copper loops that way. The ISPs would then have to offer some service that the FCC describes as "telecommunications," but not necessarily voice, Bailey said.

Susnock asserts that there would be high costs associated with becoming a CLEC, such as a sizable monthly fee charged by Verizon for access to its infrastructure database. However, Bailey claims the PUC disallowed that fee last year, and that no CLEC in New Hampshire is charged that fee or pays it.

Susnock describes Verizon's operating requirements as "anti-competitive," and vowed to continue his efforts to change them.

There may be more than just 911 access at stake with these allegations. New Hampshire's Office of the Consumer Advocate has called for a full study of Verizon's services and costs statewide (called a "rate case").

Separately, Verizon has requested permission to offer long-distance telephone service in New Hampshire under the provisions of section 271 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

But a decision on the network congestion case is not on the PUC agenda yet, and officials did not disclose when it might be.

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

Intellicare combines call center software, services

Published in Interface Tech News

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine ‹ Expanding its offerings to health care organizations, call-center specialist Intellicare is now offering a unified messaging service combining telephone, fax, e-mail, Internet chat, and voicemail in a single desk workstation.

The system, which the company calls a "blended media contact center" and sells under the product name Intelliview, can route incoming traffic to several destinations, based on several criteria. For example, a Spanish-language e-mail message would be routed to a Spanish-reading assistant, or a fax from a patient inquiring about cardiac care would go to a representative with special knowledge about cardiac issues.

It offers a solution to a problem hospitals, insurance companies, and large medical practices are having: How to prepare for providing Internet customer service at a time when most people still use the phone?

One criterion is real-time handling, according to Victor Otley, chairman, CEO, and president of Intellicare. "Live agent interaction is extremely important," Otley sai d.

But phone traffic is by far the most common means of seeking customer service, Otley said, and he doesn't see that changing quickly.

"We believe that (migration to e-mail and Internet chat service) will happen over a period of years, not months," he said.

Intellicare itself operates call centers, and can augment a client's own customer service or do it entirely, on an outsourced basis, while remaining in compliance with federal privacy laws governing medical records.

The privately held and venture-funded company has 75 full-time equivalents spread across between 100 and 200 people, Otley said.

The firm grew 45 percent last year and is expected to grow 80 percent this year, as the company steps up marketing and sales efforts to get the product out the door.

One buyer has already bitten and been pleased. Kara Goodnight, the call-center supervisor at Texas Health Resources in Arlington, Tex., said her company, which operates 13 hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and handles 200,000 customer calls per year, conducted a massive research effort before deciding to go with Intellicare's combination of software and outsourced service.

"We felt that their software was the best product to meet our needs," Goodnight said.

In addition to the advantage of sharing a support platform between Texas Health Resources' call center and Intellicare, which will handle some calls, she said that a particular hurdle was privacy.

"We were very concerned about having our data reside on somebody else's server," Goodnight said. But Intellicare was able to assuage that concern. "We feel very comfortable that they're housing our very important data," she said.

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Expert Server Group gears up for expansion

Published in Interface Tech News

BEDFORD, N.H. ‹ Responding to increasing customer demand and space constraints, Expert Server Group (ESG) plans to add staff to its enterprise services group ‹ expected to triple in revenue in 2002 ‹ and will begin a five-year building program to add 130,000 square feet to the company's present 20,000 square feet of space.

The company offers procurement, installation, and maintenance services for custom-designed IT systems, including hardware, software, and product support.

According to ESG president Doug Weisberg, the enterprise services part of ESG's business, which provided about ten percent of the total company revenue in 2001, is expected to reach one-third of company activity in 2002. "This year's business will basically triple what we did last year in that segment," Weisberg said.

While disclosing that hiring is already underway, Weisberg was not sure exactly how many employees the company would add. He noted that the bursting of the dot-com bubble has provided a large pool of available workers with good qualifications.

The staff additions have put additional pressure on the company's working space, now split between its main building in Bedford and a smaller space in Manchester, N.H. A few years ago, ESG bought 30 acres next to the Bedford property, and is now planning a progressive build-out of that property that will result in the closing of the Manchester office.

"We would like to consolidate the facilities," Weisberg said.

The initial phase, still in the permitting process, will be a 30,000 square-foot building. Two-thirds of it is planned for offices, with the remainder intended for staging, configuration, light assembly work, and warehousing to support the company's build-to-order services.

"We are out of space," Weisberg said, adding that, over the next five years, the company wants to build an additional 100,000 square feet of space.

This type of company is not common, according to Carl Howe, research director at Forrester Research, but ESG may be doing quite well. While Forrester does not track the small, privately held ESG specifically, Howe said there may be some challenges for such a company, including competition from local value-added resellers.

Laurie Orloff, also an analyst at Forrester, said procurement services is a very viable market, because contract negotiations are time-consuming. She explained that if a company can be an effective middleman ‹ getting better deals for its clients than they would get on their own ‹ while still making a profit, that's very good.

Monday, February 11, 2002

Fairchild responds to marketplace shift, moves to LVDS

Published in Interface Tech News

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine ‹ Reacting to the increased prevalence of low voltage differential signaling (LVDS) as a device-communication protocol, Fairchild Semiconductor is now manufacturing a high-speed crosspoint switch for use as a building block of more complex devices.

"Our role on this is low functionality, high performance," said Paul Kierstead, Fairchild's interface marketing director.

Fairchild spun out of Santa Clara, Calif.-based National Semiconductor five years ago and aimed for the niche of simple, high-performance components to be used as elements of a wide variety of electronic equipment.

Getting data moving at higher rates between devices in networking equipment is an important factor in expanding overall throughput.

With the older transistor-transistor logic (TTL) bus technology, in which data is broadcast to all devices on the bus, Kierstead said, "You've got to get wider to get faster."

LVDS, by contrast, operates over pairs of wires directly connecting components. The receiver looks at the difference between the two signals, allowing for noise to be eliminated from the transmission. While it does require two wires where before one would suffice, Kierstead said, it can reach speeds of 622 megabits per second, as compared with 64-bit bus speeds.

Fairchild's new switch converts between TTL and LVDS, Kierstead said, allowing manufacturers to choose the best mix of technologies for their purposes. "It really begins to tie the signaling level issues together," he said.

The crosspoint nature of the switch improves its versatility, he said. "It allows you to have multiple inputs that are switchable and routable to multiple outputs," Kierstead said.

With only two ports, it is small, but faster and easier to manage than some of its larger competitors, which get as big as 128 pairs in and out, Kierstead said.

"This is the building block of the crosspoint switch," he said. Fairchild will start from this base, he added, and move to larger arrays of switches with additional functionality. He noted that the company plans to move into packet-oriented switches, as well.

Fairchild is also working on optimizing power consumption, and sees that area as a major opportunity for growth.

Analyst Charles Mantel, vice president of Mountain View, Calif.-based Selantek, said Fairchild seems to be holding up well.

"Nobody's had a great time of it," Mantel said, but Fairchild is not doing as badly as some of its competitors. "They went less downhill than many companies," he said.

Tuesday, February 5, 2002

ManageSoft finds reseller for government contracts offering

Published in Interface Tech News

NASHUA, N.H. ‹ In a deal that may bring in an extra $1 million in the first quarter of this year, ManageSoft has formed a partnership with San Antonio, Texas-based CRV to market ManageSoft's network-aware software inventory and license-monitoring products to U.S. government agencies.

"You've got to get on the GSA list to be able to sell to the government," said William Davenport, ManageSoft's marketing communications manager.

The process of getting on the General Services Administration's approved contracts list is time consuming, but can be avoided by selling products through a company already on the list. Although government agencies can buy items from companies not on a GSA contract, it requires extensive paperwork.

According to Davenport, CRV has a GSA contract and a strong presence in government and corporate sales environments, making a partnership attractive to ManageSoft. CRV plans to integrate ManageSoft products into the services it already offers governmental and corporate clients, Davenport said.

"Any company that is going to be successful needs to have partnerships," Davenport said.

The CRV deal is not ManageSoft's only such agreement, and sales have been climbing since the Oct. 1 release of ManageSoft's latest software package, ManageSoft 6.0. The company changed its name from Open Software Associates and the name of its product from NetDeploy Global at that time.

IDC senior research analyst Fred Broussard said that ManageSoft will be competing with well-entrenched vendors, but the technical superiority of the company's software should help them break in, along with deals like the one with CRV, offering "partners who can help deploy new software throughout the enterprise."

With companies demanding faster return on investment and speedier software deployment times, Broussard said, tools like ManageSoft 6.0 can be very helpful to consultants brought in from the outside to make new software installations work. With partnerships like CRV's, he said, ManageSoft should be able to make a strong showing.

Monday, January 7, 2002

Tecnomatix expands business model

Published in Interface Tech News

NASHUA, N.H. ‹ Moving ahead in its return to profitability, Tecnomatix Technologies recently became a reseller of Seattle-based GraphiCode's iGerber manufacturing file format conversion software.

While the deal is not a giant one, it should mark a positive step for the electronics manufacturing service company.

"It will have a medium-sized impact on our business dealings," said Tecnomatix product marketing manager John Dixon. "It allows us to broaden our customer base and provide better service."

According to company officials, the iGerber software has already been well-integrated with Tecnomatix's eMPower software suite, but customers will now be able to order the two together, rather than making two separate transactions.

It is a continuing part of Tecnomatix's transition from providing specific software solutions for the manufacturing process to offering what it calls "manufacturing process management," a set of software tools offering end-to-end manufacturing integration.

Analyst Bruce Jenkins, executive vice president of Daratech, said the reseller deal is a good move, and applauded the company's progress in the transition, which he termed "challenging."

Jenkins said offering manufacturers a way to streamline not only their design process, but also the manufacturing process is "one of the most pressing strategic priorities for manufacturers today," and a big move toward profit increases for Tecnomatix and its customers.

While Tecnomatix's third quarter figures did show a small net loss, Jenkins said he agrees with company projections of a five-percent profit margin in 2002. He added that the economy is impacting the company, but not by much.

"The general economic environment is a problem for them, as it is for everybody," Jenkins said.

He explained that while Wall Street and many investors are optimistic about a turnaround by the middle of 2002, some Tecnomatix customers are more guarded, which could cause some problems.

Not only is the company targeting the right market, but they're going about it in the right way, according to Jenkins. The company is offering "exactly what's needed," he said.

But, he added, the biggest challenge will continue to be the transition from specific tools to an overall package for the manufacturing process, and, so far, they have done well.

"They have already faced it, and they succeeded and are moving beyond it," Jenkins said.

Monday, December 31, 2001

Tally Systems expands reseller program

Published in Interface Tech News

LEBANON, N.H. ‹ IT asset inventory specialist Tally Systems recently closed a resale and distribution deal with Vancouver, British Columbia-based TechTrack Solutions. With this agreement, TechTrack plans to resell Tally's asset-tracking software and Web-based platform services, and may include Tally products in its own offerings.

"A lot of the revenue potential for this is over the long haul," said Randy Britton, communications director for Tally.

Tally offers two packages: TS.Census, a company intranet-based program for ongoing tracking at larger companies, and WebCensus, a Web-based application targeted at short-term users or smaller companies. Both provide customers with specific reports on installed hardware and software, including CPU components and application serial numbers, to assist companies with inventory and IT asset tracking.

"They get results in a matter of days," Britton said of WebCensus clients, many of whom are planning the timing and scope of hardware and software upgrades. "Knowing what you have in place really helps you to make that decision," he added.

Patricia Adams, a senior research analyst studying IT asset management for the Gartner Group, agrees, and said there is a lot of growth in this area right now.

"What's driving this is the recession," she said. "Companies are now tightening back on their spending." That leaves software companies coming up short in their sales figures, so they are auditing their clients.

According to Adams, while the typical response to audits used to be purchasing more than enough additional licenses to be compliant and leaving it at that, companies are now saying, "Let's just quickly run an inventory."

"It's more a project focus than a long-term focus," Adams said. But she added that some companies are even seeing value in continuing asset tracking.

Companies that know where their assets are can retire them when they're no longer needed, recover unused software license fees, and renegotiate bulk deals to save money. Also, Adams said, they can plan upgrades more efficiently, knowing ahead of time what hardware will need to be replaced to support a new software package such as Windows 2000 or Windows XP.

"Asset management has always been around," Adams said, but "now it's really coming of age."

Monday, December 17, 2001

Lightbridge tightens reins

Published in Interface Tech News

BURLINGTON, Mass. ‹ Continuing its post-merger shuffling of personnel and resources, mobile business services company Lightbridge is closing one of its four offices and shifting tasks and employees to the remaining three. Most of the employees have left the Palo Alto, Calif. office, although a few will remain through May.

Its February 2001 acquisition of prepaid mobile services specialist Corsair Communications, based in Palo Alto and Irvine, meant Lightbridge had two offices in California ‹ in addition to its Burlington headquarters and its software development center outside Denver.

Nearly 100 employees were affected, though most were offered the option of relocating to Irvine, the company said. Many will do so, while others will leave Lightbridge.

Lynne Smith, Lightbridge's director of corporate communications, said this was a planned event based on the company's business needs, rather than a response to the economic downturn.

"This wasn't about taking hits," Smith said. "We are still quite profitable. This was a real business decision."

The overhead associated with keeping the additional office open was an inefficient burden on the company, Smith said, and bringing together staff who perform similar functions will help move Lightbridge toward its renewed focus on mobile business services.

"We are a conservatively managed company," Smith said, emphasizing that Wall Street's response to the consolidation was positive.

Analyst Iain Gillott of iGillott Research said the company was making a smart move, and was actually surprised at the timing of the rearrangement. "I thought they were going to do this sooner," Gillott said.

He differentiated Lightbridge from startups and equipment companies that have taken big hits recently. Instead, he said, Lightbridge gets much of its revenue from commissions and royalties when people activate mobile phones, and also through the company's involvement in credit checks and fraud prevention methods used by mobile carriers.

Gillott said that mobile phone usage and subscribership continues to climb, especially in the area of prepaid service, which is a major focus for Lightbridge.

Lightbridge does face some obstacles, Gillott said, primarily in the way the market is shifting toward mobile business in addition to mobile telephone services. "They have to shift their strategy to deal with that," he said, adding that Lightbridge has been pigeonholed by the industry and needs to break out of those preconceptions.

He said the company has a good chance to do that, with a good reputation and strong services.

"They do what they do very well," Gillott said.

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Bottomline delivers for UPS, gets resale help from Unisys

Published in Interface Tech News

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. ‹ Continuing its march to prominence in the electronic payment and invoicing sector, Bottomline Technologies will be providing the back end for Atlanta-based United Parcel Service's (UPS) electronic billing system. The company also expects a November reseller agreement with Unisys, of Blue Bell, Pa., to really get rolling in January.

"We have implemented an electronic invoice delivery system for (UPS)," said Bottomline CEO Dan McGurl.

Clients using UPS' Web site will be able to register to receive invoices on-line and make electronic payments, including viewing billing summaries and details of specific invoices.

McGurl described the deal as "a multi-million dollar one" that is part of a continuing relationship between the companies.

It is another step in Bottomline's efforts to support the increasing demand for electronic invoicing and payment. McGurl said the recent uncertainty about the safety and reliability of the U.S. postal system has pushed more companies into exploring alternatives to paper invoice and payment systems.

Another boost for Bottomline in the New Year will be the resale of Bottomline software by banking and financial services giant Unisys. The agreement was made in November, but the ramp-up period lasted through late December, paving the way for sales this month.

"This product that we've developed," McGurl said, "is something that (Unisys) didn't have." He expects the company to integrate Bottomline's electronic payment-to-invoice matching software into its own offerings, saving time for both payer and payee, and allowing better control of cash flow for both parties.

Avivah Litan, vice president and research director at the Gartner Group, said Bottomline is thriving even as the economy slides. "The truth is it's doing pretty well," Litan said.

She said electronic invoicing is growing, with about 20 percent of all business-to-business invoices already electronic.

The advantage for companies like UPS, who are Bottomline clients, Litan said, is the adaptability of the software packages.

"They allow the customers to live in the paper world and the electronic world at the same time," she said, making migration a comfortable process for the client.

And closing the deal with Unisys will provide a big boost for both companies. "Unisys has been trying to penetrate this market for a while," Litan said, adding that Bottomline's small sales force "needs all the partners and resellers they can get."

Friday, December 7, 2001

Capitol Computers expands training facility

Published in Interface Tech News

AUGUSTA, Maine ‹ Responding to rapid growth in demand for its services and projected expansion in the future, Capitol Computers is expanding its training space from 30 to 50 workstations and hiring two additional instructors.

The company will continue to provide sales, maintenance, and technical support to businesses and educational institutions, but sees the most growth potential in the area of computer-based training, according to vice president and general manager Paul DeSchamp.

DeSchamp said the company's revenue increased 18 percent from 2000 to 2001, and projected it will increase a further 40 percent by 2002. Those figures are driven by a 200 percent increase in offerings of career-based, self-paced training classes from 2000 to 2001. DeSchamp expects the class offerings will double again in the next year.

Capitol's biggest client is the state of Maine, to which it offers employee training and serves the state's career counseling program, retraining workers laid off from other industries. Among the services Capitol offers are certification programs for computer technicians and network engineers.

The new space, with 20 additional desktop machines, all with high-speed Internet connections and access to networked printers and file servers, is scheduled to open Dec. 1. DeSchamp added that there is more room for expansion, should it be needed.

He admits that mill closings and other layoffs around Maine have boosted his business, but stressed that, while he is happy to help people learn new skills, "we don't want to see more closings."

Katherine Jones of the Boston-based Aberdeen Group's education and e-learning research section said that, while computer-based training is nothing new, computers are being used more and more for educational purposes.

In the current economic slowdown, Jones said, people need to retrain or improve their skill sets to get and keep jobs ‹ that means more business for training centers. Added to that can be state or even company programs offering financial incentives to laid-off workers learning new skills.

According to Jones, one area of significant promise is certification for industrial workers. There are programs which train people to handle hazardous material, operate heavy equipment, or perform other tasks, offering certifications at the end of the process.

"You need about five of them to run a backhoe," Jones said. And the certifications expire, bringing people back every year or two to keep current. "Most of the stuff is learnable online and testable online," she said. "That's a perfect thing for training companies."

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

OSA becomes ManageSoft

Published in Interface Tech News

NASHUA, N.H. ‹ Open Software Associates changed its name to ManageSoft Corporation on Oct. 1 in an effort to clarify its brand and message. The move was underscored by the renaming of the company's flagship NetDeploy Global product‹ now ManageSoft version 6.0 ‹ the major change of which is in the name.

Bob Thaler, director of product marketing, said the decision stemmed from market research that produced disappointing results.

"We found that we were limited in our marketing reach," Thaler said. "We needed to develop a name and brand that was more closely related to what we do."

With the help of branding consultant Jack Trout, who heads up Old Greenwich, Conn.-based Trout & Partners, the company chose a new name, to showcase its focus on software management and deployment.

While the names have changed, not much about the product or the company is new, Thaler said. The software employs the metaphor of a warehouse for software, showing users that there are receiving, inventory, picking, and shipping aspects to the program.

"It is a place where a customer does everything they need to do," he said, pointing out that the system can be set to deploy software over a network to remote users whenever they are connected. This allows reliable updating of laptops, as well as desktop machines, according to Thaler.

Neal Goldman, a research director at the Boston-based Yankee Group, said the product doesn't seem to have any major improvements over its competition. He said there are existing software-audit programs and those that deploy software, but they are largely independent and used in that way.

"Not everybody has both (systems)," Goldman said, although he liked the warehouse model for its possibilities. "If you could actually return stuff to the warehouse (that would be new)," he added.

According to Goldman, the market for this type of software is not large. "It's never been a huge market in terms of absolute dollars," he explained. Software auditing is less than a $400 million business, and other aspects of the ManageSoft software are included in larger systems-management packages like OpenView, he said.

Sycamore aims to buoy sales with Insight launch

Published in Interface Tech News

CHELMSFORD, Mass. ‹ In a bid to keep customers buying during a time of declining capital expenditures, Sycamore Networks released in early October its SILVX InSight product, which integrates planning, design, and testing for optical networks.

InSight was designed to work with Sycamore's existing network management system, SILVX NMS, to take an inventory of existing network infrastructure, and propose upgrades and equipment purchases to improve the efficiency of carrier networks.

"It's a simulated network," said Wade Rubinstein, Sycamore's director of professional services. "It's much cheaper to put this software on a PC than to buy another switch."

The key to InSight, according to company officials, is a database that includes specifications on networking hardware, permitting capacity planning and load simulation, as well as cost-benefit analysis and testing prior to purchase.

Analyst Maribel Dolinov of Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, said the database could be hard to keep updated. "You can't just call up a company and ask for its specs," she said.

With monthly updates to its database, Sycamore said it will be able to keep current, enabling the linking and design possibilities the company identified as its target service.

"We want to enhance productivity and help the next generation of intelligent optical networks," Rubinstein said.

The driving force behind the product's release, is a good idea, Dolinov said. Across the networking industry, she said, "sales are becoming much more complex." Not only are orders smaller and more specific, but they're reducing in volume and dollar amounts, she added.

In Dolinov's view, another specter looming on the horizon for optical networking is a revelation like the recent one from Qwest, stating that it is finished building its network.

"That's a scary sort of thing for an equipment provider," Dolinov said. Further, she continued, if a supplier is feeling a crunch from one customer, it's hard to make up the difference in new business right now.

"At the end of the day," Dolinov said, "tools are still pretty company specific."

Monday, October 29, 2001

MerryGo borrows P2P name for Internet timeshare exchange

Published in Interface Tech News

MANCHESTER, N.H. ‹ MerryGo launched its new Web site in late September. It will use a peer-to-peer (P2P) method, permitting owners of timeshare properties to deal directly with each other, rather than going through a difficult-to-use central clearinghouse system which is not available on the Internet.

MerryGo is not harnessing the power of computers, but the power of individuals, and is providing central-server traffic direction on its Web site.

The standard timeshare exchange process involves a large group of people, each of whom has an asset: a week of time at a timeshare resort property. Those people pay annual membership fees to resorts and to associations that permit them to exchange their time at one location for someone else's time at another spot.

At present, that process is complex and overly centralized, said Forrest Milkowski, company co-founder and executive vice president for sales and marketing at MerryGo. "We're going to change the way the timeshare industry works," Milkowski said.

That's a big statement for a two-person company targeting the $1.5 billion timeshare exchange sector, but mirrors the changes P2P technology has threatened in the music industry via sites like Napster.

MerryGo's service involves one-to-one trading, with owners posting properties on MerryGo's searchable site. When they find an interesting property, prospective exchangers can e-mail the timeshare owners directly.

Milkowski said this way is not only cheaper, with fees based on transactions rather than annual memberships, but more personal. "I can actually contact the person who owns the property," he said.

This permits travel tips to be passed on from person to person, including which restaurants are the nicest or directions to a pleasant picnic spot. Milkowski said MerryGo's method takes the information out of the hands of a telephone representative for a large company and puts it into the hands of timeshare owners and exchangers.

The company is also partnering with major timeshare resort companies to offer discounts for vacationers exchanging within one company's properties, rather than seeking out other destinations. Although Milkowski said MerryGo Web site visitors would be free to choose any location that fits their needs.

Friday, October 19, 2001

Lucent slashes staff in survival play

Published in Interface Tech News

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. ‹ Lucent Technologies cut nearly 1,000 job at its Merrimack Valley Works plant in a recent effort to save itself. The cuts were part of a 50 percent job reduction effort at Lucent, resulting from reduced revenue and changing customer demands.

The company-wide cutbacks will reduce the Lucent workforce from 123,000 at the beginning of 2001 to about 60,000 at the end of 2002, the company said. The Merrimack Valley plant's employment will drop from 3,750 to 2,800, said Lucent spokeswoman Mary Ward, who would not give a time frame for coming reductions.

"We're always reviewing what we need in terms of staffing levels," she said. Now that Lucent is moving toward outsourcing tasks, she said, jobs in the company have to go.

"(The reduction is) a response to the new business model of using outside contractors," Ward said. "Most of it is in response to the current market conditions."

Those conditions, according to Forrester Research analyst Maribel Dolinov, are difficult.

While many carrier companies are publicly saying they are moving from circuit-switching to packet-switching, those same companies had been placing sizable orders for circuit-based equipment. Now the carriers are cutting back their purchases of older technology, leaving companies like Lucent trying to bridge the gap while dealing with reduced revenue.

Lucent said it is working hard to continue its relationships with carriers. "We're doing whatever we can to help our customers," Ward said.

Dolinov said Lucent might be handicapped by the sense that the company is in bad shape.

"A lot of the good folks have gone out with the natural brain drain (that follows job reductions)", Dolinov said.

But those with good ideas don't have anywhere to go, with Nortel also laying off and start-ups experiencing financial droughts. In some cases, Dolinov said, laying low might be the best course of action. "You might as well just stay at Lucent and try and make it happen," she said.

The next six to eight months will show whether Lucent and its competitors will be successful, Dolinov said, and it could take longer than that for real results to appear. Lucent itself said it doesn't expect to see profits until fiscal 2003.

Thursday, October 18, 2001

Sunrise launches new marketing push

Published in Interface Tech News

MANCHESTER, N.H. ‹ In its first big self-promotion move, 10-year-old design engineering services firm Sunrise Labs is gearing up to unveil its new facility on Oct. 19. The company moved from the Ammon Center at the Manchester airport to Auburn, N.H.'s Wellington Business Park.

"This is really our first foray into marketing," said John MacGilvary, Sunrise's vice president of sales and marketing. The grand opening will give the company a chance to woo existing clients and prospects, in a bid to continue its rapid growth.

The privately held company has been growing about 40 percent per year, and needs the new space to continue expanding its workforce apace, according to MacGilvary. Sunrise Labs presently employs 35 people in the new facility ‹ occupied in January and now "fully ramped up," he said.

In 1999, the company won a "Decade of Design" award from Businessweek magazine for its part in designing an electronic voting machine accessible to people in wheelchairs. The machine, first sold in 1990, is now standard equipment at polling places, according to Businessweek.

MacGilvary said that was just one example of the company's design capabilities. Targeting customers in mature industries, Sunrise Labs has also built valves, valve actuators, and software valve controls for industrial applications, and is now working on the next generation of controllers for mammography equipment, he said.

With many companies working to reduce the cost of goods and moving toward more efficient design, the company said it is doing well, even in the economic downturn.

"Companies are using this time to regroup," MacGilvary said, which means more business for Sunrise Labs. He added that many of the company's clients say they outsource a lot of business, with mixed results, but often say Sunrise Labs exceeds expectations.

The company is seeing some effects from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, as well, MacGilvary said. Companies that had been moderately interested in security and military applications for some of Sunrise Labs' work have increased orders, in some cases, doubling them. The company thought interest had spiked in June, MacGilvary said, but "now it's really taking shape."