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June 3, 2008updated 19 Aug 2016 10:07am

Numara claims service desk management rivals are “going backwards”

Service desk management specialist Numara Software's Andy White -- vice president of international operations -- told me he believes some of its competitors can only be "going backwards". That’s on the basis that analysts peg the sector’s market

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Service desk management specialist Numara Software’s Andy White — vice president of international operations — told me he believes some of its competitors can only be “going backwards”.

That’s on the basis that analysts peg the sector’s market growth at around 8.2%, yet Numara grew sales at around 60% year-on-year in its last four quarters… [click Continue Reading for more on this entry]…

…Numara was founded in 1991 as Blue Ocean Software but changed its name two years ago. It first became known as the makers of Track-It!, claimed to be the most widely installed help desk and asset management technology in the world.

Acquired by Intuit in 2002, the company became a wholly owned subsidiary under the Intuit umbrella, operating as Intuit IT Solutions. In December of 2005, private equity firm TA Associates bought Intuit IT Solutions in a $200m buyout, and renamed the company Numara (which translates as ‘new ocean’) Software.

Shortly after being acquired by TA Associates, Numara acquired UniPress Software and its mid-market FootPrints line of web-based, ITIL-compatible service desk software for help desk and support automation.

Fast forward to the present, and Numara’s White says the firm is now firing on all cylinders. “In our latest quarter we won our largest deal to date, and it was with a company that actually owns one of our competitors,” he said. “I think that says a lot about our technology.”

Numara specialises in service desk management, a niche within broader systems and service management, where it competes with the likes of Remedy, CA, HP and specialists like Altiris, Axios, FrontRange, TouchPaper and many more.

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White claimed Numara has 50,000 customers, compared to Remedy’s 12,000, though that may also have something to do with the size of organisation that Numara targets compared to Remedy. Really, its core market is service desk management for small to medium-sized businesses.

But he also claimed that unlike some rivals, Numara prides itself not only on selling licenses but seeing their implementation: “We audit and evaluate not just receipt of the software but its implementation too,” he said, “as well as the expansion in use of our software by customers. We also pay our staff based on all three of those metrics.”

White argued that another differentiator for Numara is how easy it is for organisations to customise their offering once it has been implemented. “A lot of our competition has very closed and proprietary offerings, which make process realignment far more important,” he told me. “But if you want to change it six months down the line, how easy is it to do that? With a lot of the competition you will need professional services to help, but we have wizards, tools and templates to allow customers to do it themselves.”

“Plus a lot of our competitors have a history of professional services revenue that they need to maintain,” he added, “whereas we don’t.”

So what is driving Numara’s growth in its core markets? “A lot of organisations know that what they are doing today is fire-fighting,” White said. “So what they need are tools to automate and simplify many of the mundane tasks so they can free people up to allocate them to more strategic initiatives.”

As for the debate as to whether effective service management needs for all IT infrastructure assets to be encapsulated in a configuration management database (CMDB), White said: “We do have our own CMDB and we are seeing a trend of CMDB demand increasing. But we have gone a step further because the latest generation of our technology can also give graphical representations of what is in the CMDB, so for example a configuration item which could be a person, a process and so on, can be zoomed in on or out of for different users, and a graph can be quickly drawn showing the different relationships.”

With regards the argument against CMDBs, which is essentially that they take a long time to populate and then quickly go out of date as the infrastructure changes, White is unbowed. “Companies can do an audit of assets to compare to the CMDB and they can do that once a day or once a month depending on their requirements,” he said.

Version 9 of the firm’s software — which White said will support ITIL version 3, and feature additional mobile device support and improvements to scalability — is slated for a launch in September.

As for how many companies are adopting ITIL in anger, White said: “I see a lot of commonality with SOA in this respect — some are far more pragmatic than others, so while some are ITIL enterprise-wide because of compliance or legislative reasons, others need only take a pragmatic approach and use it [ITIL] where it makes sense.”

For a related post on business service management firm ASG and the fact it is on the verge of its largest-ever acquisition, click here.

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