Archive for November, 2009

Huge Nimsoft customer win announcement coming Tuesday

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Press release being issued Tuesday this week….one of the largest IT users in the world.

Another new managed service provider

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Congrats to the latest managed service provider to move to Nimsoft as their monitoring platform today. This particular organization is based in the uk and several of us had the pleasure of meeting many of their team during the evaluation process.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US. I’m still in the UK until the weekend for personal reasons which has meant Thanksgiving away from my family in California.

I’ll make it up to them all when I get back.

The change has begun – HP Software revenue declines further

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Did anyone see this today. HP reported that their Business Technology Optimization revenue declined 16% year on year.

Now, of course that’s caused by the global recession right? Or is it?

BMC recently reported that their ESM bookings had declined by 9% year on year in their latest quarter. Let’s think about that one for a second….Bladelogic seems to be doing great (big relationship with Cisco etc), Remedy is probably holding up, so Patrol/Service Assurance is likely collapsing fast.

Maybe it’s caused by the fact that now, more than ever, some of these large vendors are under attack from fresher technologies, flexible business models and value based pricing. These products are already overly complex and over-priced but Cloud Computing demands flexibility, pay as you use pricing and low overhead/maintenance.

That’s clearly something that vendors who are reliant on huge, multi-million dollar perpetual license fees from large customers who have previously not had a choice, are going to have a difficult time dealing with.

Now of course, this is my own personal opinion but I talk to a lot of customers and I know that there is a lot of replacement business is happening and it appears to be accelerating.

As previously blogged, I truly believe that in the “management stack”, like so many others, Cloud changes everything and the large software vendors of today have a limited time period to either adapt or be rendered dinosaurs.

We’ll see….

Board meeting, BMC and Salesforce, a new Service Provider customer and more

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Another week over. Been very busy again.

Board meeting this week – we extended it over 2 days (afternoon and morning) because we had a lot to talk about. I believe that our board members left the building smiling and excited (now we’ve just got to deliver).

Additional biz dev guy accepted our offer this week – will be with us in a couple of weeks and also an additional inside sales guy. Hiring continues to be a major focus for us. Positions open in almost every major area….

Noticed BMC and Salesforce agreement on Service Desk Express (the old Magic product). Seems pretty cool for them – although, while validating that SAAS is a good delivery model for service desk, why Magic and not Remedy!! Wish this was Remedy that they were making a SAAS offering – then it would be much more exciting (coming next I wonder?). Either way, looks great.

We signed another new Service Provider customer this week. I had the pleasure of speaking with the COO of the business and he spent a good part of our discussion complimenting me on the quality of the team that he had interacted with. This is huge for me – makes me so happy when customers tell us about their quality Nimsoft experience.

And finally….we’ve heard that multiple companies are now targeting Nimsoft in their hiring and their marketing. “We’re the alternative to Nimsoft” is a phrase that customers are hearing from different start-ups, and we are being targeted by them for hiring.

Does that mean that we’ve arrived?

And finally, I’m sick. Picked up a horrible cold this week and I’m on a plane to Europe later today – ugh.

Cloud is over-hyped right?

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Cloud is not over-hyped, but instead, it is misunderstood (mainly due to vendors jumping on the bandwagon).

Cloud is as big and as important a transition in computing as was the mainframe to c/s transition.

New companies will emerge (who would have though an on-line book seller would be leading the charge?), other companies will lose (Sun?…they put the dot in the dot com but not the droplets in the cloud). Market share will be gained and lost very quickly.

There is a huge amount going on in Cloud….much of it internal cloud infrastructures but also people making use of external and public cloud.

For the “management” providers….this is not a good time to be stuck with monolithic, inflexible old products. Watch for IBM, CA, BMC, HP….they need to make BIG moves or they will be left with legacy businesses – analysts are already talking that way. Some will get it and some won’t (I have no insights but I do know how difficult that transition is).

But, what about new management players….Cisco? VMWare? Hey…maybe even Amazon or Google or Salesforce?

And where is Nimsoft? Right in the center of the action – or maybe even at the head of the parade. Due to an unbelievably flexible architecture, the ability to move quickly and the fact that we’ve been working with Cloud/Hosting/Managed Service Providers for multiple years we are way ahead of the traditional players.

My prediction…..in 3 years time, when people talk about the BIG X in management – Nimsoft will be in every conversation – it’s already getting that way.

Startup mistakes

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

I wish I could write, because if I could I would have written the following. Unfortunately I didn’t, so I will satisfy myself by commenting which of these has been important to Nimsoft from the point of view of someone that has taken a company from being 2 people in a serviced office to being one of the hottest privately owned companies in the world. The full blog posting from Scoble can be been here

Re-purposed from Scoble’s blog

Here’s some things that startups that aren’t run well do:

1. Have plush offices in the most expensive part of town. Come on, who are you fooling? You are burning someone else’s money and you aren’t spending it like it’s your own.

>>Gary….couldn’t agree more. We’ve always been “cheap” on office space…what motivates employees is what they are doing, not the quality of their office.

2. You can’t tell me what you do in a single Tweet. See that super complicated Toyota Prius in my driveway? It gets better mileage than your car. If you can’t explain why your product is better, the way I just did with the Toyota Prius, in a short space or time on the phone you won’t make it.

>>Gary….again, fully agree. This is a challenge when you do so much – there are always those that want to tell everyone every feature. The ability to summarize is a huge skill. (By the way, I also drive a Prius but I do so because it gets me in the car-pool lane.)

3. If I look around and don’t see programmers. I can smell programmers. A good company is full of them. Posterous, for instance, has ONLY programmers. FriendFeed had something like 13 programmers and one other person. Great ratio.

>>Gary….well, don’t completely agree with this one. Yes, you need plenty of programmers but, you also need someone to ensure that you are developing to the customer problem set and, sooner or later, someone’s got to make some money right? Personally I think excellent product mgmt saves a programmer tons of time and helps them hit the mark.

4. You hire a PR firm. Now this one is dangerous, but the best companies have let their customers do the talking for them. At Rackspace, for instance, they worked to stay out of the public eye and worked on building the best service organization web hosting had ever seen. The best companies, when small, have just gotten good at telling their stories. I still remember when Stewart Butterfield showed me Flickr. He didn’t have any PR flacks with him. Now, maybe a PR company was helping them behind the scenes or to take care of leads and all the other stuff that goes with building a company but it wasn’t the first interaction I had with the company. Nothing like having a CEO or CTO just show you the product and explain why it’s better. 4b: you don’t have a blog and a Twitter account. Even worse if you have a PR firm and you don’t have both of those things.

>>Gary….oh yes!!! PR firms can be the biggest waste on money on the planet….until you get to a certain size of course. Nimsoft has a PR firm now, but has built this company for the last 5 years without one.

5. They spend money on the wrong things. I’ve been in more than one startup that had bad chairs and small screens for their engineers but they had an expensive coffee machine. Let me make this clear: you have 18 months to build your business. You have figured out how to get some programmers to work with you. Make them as absolutely productive as they can be. Buy them a decent chair and get them at least two large screen high res monitors with fast computers. Remember SOASTA? Every engineer had a 30-inch monitor both at home and at work along with a MacPro (you can see one of those monitors in the interview I did with them). That was a HUGE recruiting tool and I think it was key in helping them keep their best people and, hey, I hear they are doing well.

>>Gary….agree. Be careful of “PC envy” though….the new guys get the latest models, the people that have been with you longer feel that they have seniority so why can’t they get them. Plus…it’s easy to waste money on equipment. I remember visiting the CEO of Rackspace a couple of years ago and he was still using a old CRT, I remember laughing about it because it was the same for me….no flat screen for him (seems archaic huh? But…you’ve got to get everyone into a discipline of being careful with someone elses money)

6. (This should be #1) They don’t fire fast enough. I’ll be honest, at Podtech me and another guy were pulling the company in different directions. John should have fired one of us. He didn’t. The story got muddled. The rest is history. (In those situations it doesn’t really matter who is right, either, you gotta pick one direction and go with it, startups don’t have enough resources to try out two directions). I’ve seen lots of other startups be slow to fire people who weren’t pulling their weight. Always bad because the best people get pissed and/or leave. Again, you need to have everyone pulling with all their weight in one direction. If that isn’t happening the startup probably isn’t firing people fast enough.

>>Gary….I feel like the lady in the movie when Harry met Sally….what was her name? Yes, yes, yes. As CEO firing is the hardest thing to do. It’s much easier to “let it ride and hope it gets better” but it never does. Someone told me once that you never fire someone too soon and they are absolutely correct. You know in your stomach if they need to go, and it is far better for everyone (including the individual) to just do it. As the company grows this can create turbulence because I have to be willing to fire my exec team as well or even other founders or early employees. But, we’ve all got the realize that it’s not about any one individual, it’s about growing the company. Our responsibilities are to our customers who have invested huge sums of money with us. And I hope that (and I know that), if ever I do a crappy job that the board will fire me.

7. You picked the wrong infrastructure. I’ll let you read into that what you want because I’m biased here (I’m a Rackspace Web Hosting employee), but ask great startups and you’ll hear some common themes here.

>>Gary….I only wish, wish, wish that SAAS, Cloud, Hosting was so prevalent when I started Nimsoft. I had to hunt around to find salesforce.com, Quickbooks online, Webex, Trinet (for HR) etc. My partner in the business wanted to buy servers (he thought I was mad)….I told him that my ideal was that I didn’t want a single server. (We ended up buying a used Dell server from Craiglist to run our demo environment on). Even today, outside of our demo environment, we have no servers at Nimsoft.

8. You let VCs control your management team and strategy too early. There’s lots of advice out on the Internet about this one, so I’ll leave it for you to figure out. But your early decisions will have big leverage on your company later. Hire the wrong management team and your company won’t make it to the B-round. I’m not experienced enough to give good advice here, but I’ve seen what happens up front. I remember meeting one CEO of one company that was just, well, let’s say clueless. How did he get hired? The VCs put him in.

>>Gary….Whoa, absolutely yes. VCs are there because they are good at investing money. If they were good at running a startup then guess what they’d be doing. But….I would say that you should foster an open and honest relationship with your investors. Even now I speak to our investors 3+ times per week….they are a good source of information and a good source of advice when difficult decisions have to be made.

9. You have a too cool name and logo. Oh, OK, this isn’t a worst thing, but companies spend too much time worrying about them (it’s a sign that you have too much money before you even have a company and customers, which is a bad sign). That said, I just interviewed a company named rrripple. Now if you end up with a name like that maybe you should spend at least 20 more minutes thinking through your name! (Sorry Rrripple).

>>Gary….err…..we’re called Nimsoft…..need I say more? I interviewed a marketing guy yesterday who proudly told me that at his last start-up he hired the same agency as Citibank to re-do their corporate logo. That doesn’t impress me….what impresses me is getting a good enough logo for $250!

10. You say yes too often, particularly in engineering decisions. Look at Posterous (the video embedded on this blog). They have a blog publishing tool. But are their comments threaded? No. Will they be eventually? Yes! Why didn’t they do them threaded up front? Because they set priorities on other things that mattered more. That’s actually a good sign for a startup: if you have only four engineers you can’t do everything. If there’s one thing I like about Evan Williams, founder of Blogger and Twitter, is that he doesn’t try to do it all. In fact he prides himself on NOT doing things. It takes great leadership to say “no, Scoble, you can’t have more than 500 members on a list.”

>>Gary….yes.

11. Startups pick old technology because it’s familiar. You’re a startup, you should be picking the best of breed for everything you do. If you are using Microsoft Office “just because” then you are making a mistake. Have you considered Jive, SocialText, Zoho, Google Docs and Spreadsheets and Wave before making your choices? Have you really looked at ways to make your small company more productive? Or you just going with the same stuff your dad’s company used?

>>Gary….whoa….totally agree. You know what, most people are not prepared to think differently – they prefer their comfortable old slipper. That’s where you have to be prepared to force the issue.

12. You don’t change direction fast enough. Every startup should be looking at its direction every month or so. Are things going according to plan? If not, fix them. But sometimes you just made bad assumptions about what the market would want from you. That’s OK! But don’t take a year to change directions, change quickly and you’ll have a chance to save the company.

>>Gary….yes, all about speed and execution.

Wow….Robert Scoble….have you been secretly inside Nimsoft for the last 5 years? Your analysis is amazingly close to our reality.

The Rumor Mill – Are BMC issuing end of life on Patrol?

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

So….I heard that BMC were issuing End of Life on PATROL…..moving to an ITMasters plus Proactivenet solution. Is it true? Would love to find out.

If true, I will shed a tear for PATROL (it was one of the originals), but will probably put together a program to enable customers to migrate to the leading solution rather than migrating to another hybrid of mish-mash technology.

If not true, oh well….we won’t be able to do our migration program (or maybe we should do it anyhow?) Still, we have plenty of customers moving to Nimsoft already from BMC (like that large Homeland Security Agency just recently).

But it is so retro…..remember this….love it! Brings back memories….
Patrollogo

More announcements coming tomorrow….

Monday, November 9th, 2009

Another exciting day for Nimsoft tomorrow with yet more announcements coming….

We are moving so fast. I’ve got product roadmap review meetings later this week – incredible how much new capabilities we are delivering.

My mother used to tell me that imitation is the best form of flattery. A number of other vendors are certainly providing us with plenty of props right now by trying to emulate Nimsoft.

But, we’re off, already skating to where the puck is going next.

Banker meetings – a deal a day keeps the tarp at bay

Monday, November 9th, 2009

We meet with a lot of bankers. When they smell an IPO in the not too distant future, they clearly want to be close to us.

But, what’s fascinating to me is how busy they are. I spoke to one this week and they told me that they were averaging one presentation per day to tech companies wanting to go public. Looks like if things continue that 2010 will be a bumper year for tech IPOs.

Funny how quickly things change huh?

New executive equipment – the iBerry

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

For a while now, tech execs/bankers have been carrying Macbooks as opposed to Windows laptops (I myself am a victim of this fashion).

But, I’ve recently noticed a new must have tech accessory, it’s called the iBerry.

That’s right, more and more people that I meet are carrying 2 mobile devices – both their Blackberry and their iPhone.

Blackberry for email and voice. The iPhone for web browsing, apps and “fun”.

The battery life on the iPhone doesn’t cut it for on the road execs, but they want that browsing capability and the apps. Have you ever looked around the lounge at the airport lately…it’s full of people charging their iPhones.