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December 16, 2010

‘That’s incredibly useful information for a CIO to know’: Q&A with Lisa Hammond, CEO of Centrix Software

CBR talks to the boss of software optimisation specialist Centrix to find out just where the company fits in the market and how it can help you as a CIO


Lisa Hammond, Centrix CEO

I think your company has changed quite a lot this year. Can you explain what your focus is now and about the new products you have been bringing to market?
Glad to. We are focused on creating solutions that help organisations extract more value from their IT choices, liberating companies from their rigid technology infrastructures and enabling them to reap new benefits from developments, in Web and virtualisation in particular.

As part of that drive, this year we launched our WorkSpace suite, which is in three parts, Discovery, IQ and Universal. All three share the same purpose, which is to help CIOs improve their strategic technology decision-making options, make the introduction of new technologies easier and modernise their IT infrastructure within a framework that aligns with existing IT governance and security models and that is designed to mitigate the risk associated with new technology introductions.

That’s all a bit too corporate boilerplate for me, sorry. Let’s be specific and tell me what each of these things does. As a CIO, what is it you think you have to offer me and what is the problem you think I have?
It all comes down to what the company is using and then delivering as a CIO what it actually needs. So in the products themselves, Discovery is a free download tool to help you do inventory, metering and monitoring which can help the average customer save up to 40% on software licensing costs, discover desktop hardware and application installs, analyse utilisation patterns and so spot which are the best apps to virtualise.

Next up is IQ, a paid-for version that both works with other toolkits in the market but also helps you start to do things like charge-back. More specifically, it provides a way to monitor how applications are being used across your organisation on a day-to-day basis, from whatever section of the IT infrastructure hosting them. Being able to report on how many users are accessing a system over time, what delivery methods are being used, and how this compares to the number of licenses that a company owns is very, very useful data.

Finally, then, Universal is the Web-based version that works in the virtualisation and Web service space. So it’s a browser-based portal that delivers all the applications that a user requires in one place so your users get a common look and feel access environment.

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OK – though I am still wanting to know the problem they solve.
Well, as a CIO, we help you understand what you have today, what you are using or no longer using, which helps with compliance too – but we also help you plan a major upgrade or move to a new virtualised environment. The roots of the suite, in fact, come out of a system we built for a client to help it achieve such a move.

So what ‘box’ do the analysts put you in? Looks to me like you cross some boundaries here.
I’d say we are somewhere in the inventory and software asset management, desktop transformation and optimisation spaces – less overlap, more convergence, in my opinion.

OK, how are the products faring in the market, then? Are you delivering value?
We now have over 20 partners working with us and in total, with what our customers and theirs are telling us all, we think we’ve delivered at least £38m in savings to organisations this year, on top of which we’ve made £2m in license sales by the way. We’ve seen about 270,000 downloads of Discovery, by the way. One of our users that we can talk about is Centrica, which says using IQ, in a context of 27,000 desktops, has saved it alone £10m, and we also have a great engagement at the University of Warwick.

All sounds very strong. Why don’t we close with any predictions, if you care to make any, about where your company will be going in 2011?
Interesting question. We are gathering lots and lots of data that we think will prove to be a very useful tool for organisations needing fine detail on any planned physical to virtual environment moves – and on the horizon, we can see a way to easily help them deliver charge-back services on top of that move, too.

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