In Partner-Friendly Foray, Quark Licenses Technology To DPCI


DPCI, New York, is noted for tying publishing into key back-end ERP, content management systems and CRM applications.

Quark is a pioneer in high-end publishing and page layout systems with its Quark Publishing System (QPS) and related lineup.

Deals like this are part of Quark CEO Kamar Aulakh's attempt to mend fences and strengthen ties with partners and customers, observers say. Aulakh, who's been with the company for nine years, took the CEO reins last February when Quark co-founder Fred Ibrahimi gave up day-to-day responsibilities.

Ibrahimi was controversial. While Quark retained its lead in high-end publishing systems under his stewardship, it also alienated customers and partners alike with what they viewed as lax support. The company gained a reputation for being unresponsive and high-handed.

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That reputation helped open the door for Adobe Systems to come in with InDesign. Adobe hopes that most professional print shops, which already use PhotoShop and Illustrator in conjunction with Quark, will make the leap to its publishing system. Quark is bound and determined not to let that happen.

"We've come a long way. We're doing more with an external point of view. We've increased the number of people we have in customer service, in tech support in the call center. We've opened up our forums, increased the number of people in the field and opened new offices in New York, London, and Hamburg where there are large concentrations of our customers," Aulakh said.

When it comes to partners, Aulakh said the company is building up its alliance program, now supporting a whopping 11 types of partnerships. Among them is a new business unit focused on OEM relationships, like the one just announced.

Like archrival Adobe, Quark wants to branch out into new, but related areas, although Aulakh disputed the view held by some customers that the company is abandoning its core publishing business. While Quark is branching more into the e-commerce arena with applications for credit-card verification, multicurrency support, etc., it would never abandon its base, Aulakh told CRN in a recent interview.

Much of that technology has been rolled out in-house for more than a year and is now in beta outside the company, he said.

Online retailers have to create catalogs and collateral but also have to field transactions, and Quark wants a piece of that action.

To grow, Quark is targeting enterprise customers that are not traditional publishers but have publishing tasks to accomplish. These large companies typically would run Quark on Oracle and Solaris. For those customers, which have to manage and deploy content, Quark will retain its direct-sales focus and partner with large integrators such as Accenture and Bearing Point.

For midsize customers--those with about 75 users per server--it will rely more on traditional VARs and other partners. For them, it will push its "classic" Quark suite of products. At the low end--companies with about a dozen or 15 people--it is working on a Studio series of products, tailored to install with one or two clicks, he said. Those customers might sub out Solaris for Windows and Oracle databases for SQL Server, he said.

As for Linux support, it's under consideration. "We've discussed that endlessly," Aulakh said. "Right now it's Windows and Solaris. We've looked at Linux and we're waiting for first two or three customers to ask for it."