Nimsoft Offers Concord VARs An Option To CA

The San Mateo, Calif.-based software vendor, maker of the NimBUS IT Management platform, is planning a replacement offer that would give eHealth users an easy way to opt out of becoming customers of Computer Associates International, which acquired Concord last week.

Under the offer, eHealth users would be able replace that product with NimBUS for the same cost as the eHealth licensing agreement, said Nimsoft President Gary Read. Nimsoft now is looking to engage with VARs, particularly Concord partners, to help spur customers to switch and to implement the transition to NimBUS, he said.

"We will try to make it as cost-neutral as possible," Read said. "Based on the maintenance payment [eHealth customers] have with Concord, we will try to do a cost-for-cost replacement equal to their existing maintenance."

Islandia, N.Y.-based CA said it's too early to detail a product road map in the wake of the Concord acquisition. But so far, all indications are that eHealth customers eventually will become Unicenter customers. Russ Artzt, CA co-founder and executive vice president for products, and Concord Chairman and CEO Jack Blaeser said eHealth will merge with Unicenter.

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"Upon closing [the acquisition], CA anticipates adding Concord's 4,000 customers to the ranks of corporations that rely on Unicenter," Blaeser said in a letter on April 7, the day CA announced the $350 million deal to acquire Concord.

Yet some Concord customers may not be interested in becoming CA customers, so now is the time to present them with Nimsoft as an alternative, said Randy Reneer, CEO of Center 7, a Lindon, Utah-based solution provider. Center 7 already has switched several large clients from Unicenter to the NimBUS solution, he said.

"There is complementary help-desk technology [to NimBUS] called Wendia, and we go to the clients running Unicenter and who have a help desk running and come in with a Nimsoft/Wendia solution," Reneer said, adding that Center 7 just completed a similar switch with a large Texas-based outsourcer of medical data. "They were running Unicenter, and they replaced it with NimBUS," he said.

Concord customers might prefer to just replace eHealth with NimBUS rather than undergo the process of transitioning to Unicenter and CA's customer environment, Read said. In the past year, Nimsoft has seen more than a dozen CA customers drop Unicenter for NimBUS, he said. One of those customers, Rick Rushing, COO of Bessemer, Ala.-based Trillion Digital Communications, a national provider of last-mile broadband connectivity, said he ordered the replacement of Unicenter with NimBUS because Nimsoft came through in a timely manner with services that engineered the level of customization and reliability that Trillion sought.

"Trillion is such a custom environment that Unicenter just wouldn't function," Rushing said. "We are about 99 percent a wireless infrastructure. [Unicenter] is a very complex enterprise software package, and with those you need somebody that can customize the platform to your fit. But we found CA very hard to work with. We had a [VAR] come in and install Unicenter the first time, and there were so many problems that CA came out themselves and tried the second time."

The Concord acquisition stands to improve Unicenter, but because of the overlap in eHealth and Unicenter functionality, it's not likely that eHealth will remain intact, said analyst Debra Curtis of research firm Gartner. For example, CA could ditch Concord's SystemEdge system agents for Unicenter system agents, migrate the Unicenter Advanced Network Option to Concord's network management tools and--instead of CA's topological discovery tools, root cause analysis and service modeling solutions--use tools from a product called Spectrum, which Concord gained with its January acquisition of Aprisma, Curtis said.

The possibility that CA might cherry-pick tools from Concord's portfolio puts the long-term support for legacy eHealth customers in front of a huge question mark, Read said. "Given that elements of eHealth compete against Unicenter, I would suggest this is an extremely worrisome time to be an eHealth customer," he said.

Of course, there's always the chance that Nimsoft could be acquired by a larger company. But Read said that as a private company, Nimsoft isn't obligated to entertain acquisition offers the same way a public company must respond. And Nimbus has staying power, he noted.

"We have 170 percent revenue growth. We have an extremely happy customer base," Read said. "Where we see ourselves is not becoming another vendor among many in this market. The customer perception of enterprise management tools is very negative, and Nimsoft intends to be the company that changes all that."