Vision Solutions Says Business Is Better Than Expected
November 12, 2007 Timothy Prickett Morgan
With so much bad or shaky economic information sloshing around out there on the Internet and airwaves, it isn’t often that good news can be heard above the cacophony. This is especially true in the i5/OS and OS/400 ecosystem, where the players tend to be smaller and any news–good or bad or otherwise–from IBM tends to dominate. Some of this is because so many companies in the System i market are privately held, of course. But sometimes, these companies talk.
As did high availability software maker Vision Solutions last week. Since it was taken over by private equity firm Thoma Cressey Bravo last year, giving it the financial resources to acquire former rivals iTera and Lakeview Technology, business has been good for Vision Solutions.
According to Nicolaas Vlok, chief executive officer at the company, since June 2007, when Vision Solutions bought Lakeview Technology, the company has closed over 1,000 new sales of its high availability, disaster recovery, and data management software products. Perhaps more significantly, more than 400 of these deals involved entirely new customers.
We often wonder how much iron such HA and DR products can push, and Vlok provided a little guidance on this as well, indicating that in the time between November 1, 2006, and October 31, 2007, over $300 million worth of System i hardware sales in that 12-month span were driven by Vision Solutions’ products. “This is a measure of our direct hardware sales and indirect sales by channel partners,” explains Vlok, “and is a number that IBM and we both agree on.” This is not just some estimate that Vision Solutions is making on the back of an envelope, but a number they figured out based on server and related storage sales in deals that got done.
About half of the deals done by Vision Solutions in the past year have been done in North America, with the other half coming from international sales. “Asia is a fast growing market for us,” says Vlok, “as are Germany, the United Kingdom, and some countries in southern Europe such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy.” The international business is growing somewhat faster than the North American business at this point.
Perhaps equally important to the fact that business is up in general for Vision Solutions is that high availability and disaster recovery software is getting some traction in the small and medium business sector. “SMB has been the strongest area of growth for us,” says Vlok. “While enterprise accounts in the System i space have a low double-digit market penetration in terms of using HA and DR software, there is only a 2 percent to 3 percent penetration in the SMB space. There is a lot of opportunity for us in the SMB marketplace.”
Don Scott, Vision Solutions’ chief financial officer, said that the company has increased its profits as well, cranked up cash flow from operations, and strengthened its balance sheet.
Lest anyone forget, Vision Solutions does some business in the AIX and Linux space as well, and owns the technology that is behind IBM’s HACMP clustering software for AIX (which it got by virtue of two acquisitions–Lakeview bought HA Technical Services in 2003) as well as Linux extensions for its ORION and MIMIX products. These AIX products are also driving sales, and the company’s chief technology officer, Alan Arnold, says that Vision Solutions is working on enhancements to all of its products for all of these IBM platforms to make them better, stronger, and faster. Which, of course, leads to more money and more customers.
This story has been corrected since it was originally published. The number of deals that Vision Solutions cited was since the Lakeview Technology acquisition in June 2007, not the iTera acquisition in October 2006. IT Jungle regrets the error. [Corrected 11/12/07]