CyberMedia Hopes for Hit with Help Desk
By Nick Wakeman
Overworked federal network managers may hold the key to one California software company's success in the government market.
CyberMedia Inc. of Santa Monica, Calif., expects to pull in about $20 million in government sales of its help-desk support product during 1998.
The company, which did not start pursuing the government market until July 1997, expects sales to accelerate with a new server-based software product released last month, said Geoff Stilley, vice president of government sales for CyberMedia.
CyberMedia's new desktop management tool can monitor hundreds of PCs at a time for configuration problems, application errors and viruses. Since its founding in 1991, the company only had offerings that worked on individual desktop computers, Stilley said.
Called CyberMedia Support Server Repair Engine, the new product can automatically fix problems or alert systems managers when there is trouble with a particular PC.
CyberMedia is the first software developer to release a server-based tool for monitoring PCs and workstations, said Rob Owens, an analyst with Pacific Crest Securities in Portland, Ore.
Tim Barnes of the NIH's National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases uses the CyberMedia Support Server Repair Engine. "It was just the niche thing we were looking for."
"Automated service and support tools are sexy products," Owens said. "It is difficult [for end users] to know why their PCs don't work."
CyberMedia is viewed as a leader in the automated helpdesk software area, according to Owens. Last year, the company's revenues were $71 million, an 85 percent increase from the $38 million reported during 1996. Nearly all its revenue to date has been through retail business sales.
A key to pushing the server-based management tool into the federal market will be CyberMedia's relationships with resellers and systems integrators, Stilley said. Large integrators like Electronic Data Systems Corp., Plano, Texas; Science Applications International Corp., San Diego; Unisys Corp., Blue Bell, Pa.; and Wang Global, Billerica, Mass., have been evaluating CyberMedia's product.
The company also is working with smaller companies, like Data Procurement Corp. of Gaithersburg, Md., and MaddenTech of Arlington, Va.
"We are trying to cover all the bases," Stilley said. "We are looking for partners who are installing enterprisewide networks."
Creating demand for new network management tools is the growing complexity of PCs combined with the limited time and resources available to network managers.
Stilley said the goal is to reduce the total cost of ownership, or what it costs to maintain and operate PCs and workstations.
CyberMedia's tool can automatically fix more than 20 percent of the problems that crash desktop computers, according to Stilley. It can help free up IT staffs to work on more serious problems, including those related to the year 2000 software conversion problem, he said.
The fast-growing help-desk efficiency market could triple over the next five years, according to one research company. Frost & Sullivan, Mountain View, Calif., expects last year's $7.9 billion government and commercial market for help-desk software and services to hit $24.5 billion by 2004. Companies pursuing this space include Computer Associates International Inc. of Islandia, N.Y., and Remedy Corp. of Mountain View, Calif.
As part of CyberMedia's push into the federal market, the server-based product is being evaluated by the Air Force and Navy and agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs, Stilley said.
One of the pluses of CyberMedia's product is that it keeps a record of a PC's past configurations and what changes have been made, said Tim Barnes, branch chief for technical systems at the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, a part of NIH. Spotting problems is easier because the help desk can quickly find what changes were made to the PC, Barnes said.
The product complements network management tools because it looks at what is going on at the desktop, he said. "It was just the niche thing we were looking for."
Chuck Roth, manager of indirect channels for Unisys' Federal Systems Division, said his company is "always looking for compelling products to build a business around." CyberMedia's ability to diagnose 250 PCs per server from a single console is a strong selling point for Unisys, he said.
Upcoming outsourcing opportunities such as the General Services Administration's Seat Management effort and NASA's Outsourcing Desktop Initiative will give help-desk products a boost, Roth said.