Netstar charts on-demand network management

Some might already be accustomed to buying their customer relationship management applications on-demand style, but the software-as-a-service delivery model could also be starting to make headway in network management circles. That's the view of Chris Meager, new chief executive of the Australian arm of network integrator NetStar which, among other offerings, sells its own network management platform nVisage as a service.

Some might already be accustomed to buying their customer relationship management applications on-demand style, but the software-as-a-service delivery model could also be starting to make headway in network management circles.

      Chris Meager
That's the view of Chris Meager, new chief executive of the Australian arm of network integrator NetStar which, among other offerings, sells its own network management platform nVisage as a service.

"We're starting to see quite a few tenders and requests come out for that kind of service," Meager told ZDNet Australia in a telephone interview late last week.

"Seems to be a big trend that we're noticing worldwide, that more people want to go to software as a service as opposed to having to buy licences outright," he continued.

"We've got quite a few arrangements where we are selling software as a service, and we're selling it through other resellers."

For example, Meager said, NetStar recently signed a joint venture deal with China Telecom that is seeing the giant resell NetStar's network management solution to its customers. He added the software delivery model comes with certain advantages.

"Your training and installation cost is much lower, and for small enterprises who don't want to fully outsource the network management -- they want to use their own engineers -- you can actually get the software at a fairly low price," he said.

Hands off
Meager sees nVisage as important enough that he made control over its future development a key part of his strategy for NetStar Australia. He took over in March after sitting unofficially in the top job for the six months previous.

Meager took the job on the agreement that NetStar's board would provide its Australian arm with more autonomy from the other geographic regions. The company's group head office has since been disbanded and Meager now reports directly to NetStar's board.

This has allowed him to pursue a strategy of re-focusing the Australian arm on services around Cisco hardware, and taking control of the development of nVisage.

Research and development on nVisage is conducted from Sydney, where NetStar's 24x7 network operations centre for network management services also sits.

"The other Netstar companies in Asia resell our capabilities. They resell NetManage and software as a service based on nVisage out of Australia," Meager said.

NetManage is a service providing remote management of enterprise networks and associated assets.

"What happened is that because those markets were closer to head office, they were kind of able to dictate the development priorities."

Meager said this happened despite the fact Australia was the biggest geographic arm of NetStar and the development priorities "didn't necessarily suit" Australian needs.

"I felt it inhibited the growth of the company," he said.

NetStar also recently sold off its business relating to Cisco rival Nortel last year, with the highest bidder -- telco Commander -- picking up the work.

According to Meager, Cisco is "definitely the dominant and most successful supplier ... with the most complete vision for the future", so it made sense to focus on the vendor's hardware.

NetStar Australia has just over 90 staff spread across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, with the majority of the company's revenue coming from the Victorian capital.

The company's two strongest vertical markets are education and government. "We don't have a Canberra office, but we actually have quite a few federal government customers, amazingly," said Meager.

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