Mercury broadens IT management line

FRAMINGHAM (09/25/2003) - Mercury Interactive Inc., known primarily as a vendor of software testing tools, this week announced a broader line of products for automating the process of managing IT systems and operations.

The expanded offering includes integrated sets of software and services targeting IT governance, software quality control, performance management and application availability. Zohar Gilad, vice president of products at Mercury, said the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has added new tools and reorganized its existing ones to fit the four product groupings.

Gilad said Mercury is focusing on three strategic IT functions as part of the broadened Business Technology Optimization product line: governing IT departments and managing project portfolios, the delivery of applications to corporate business units, and managing systems to make sure they work properly.

AutoOne Insurance, a start-up in Melville, N.Y., turned to Mercury's tools last year to expedite the setup of its applications. Virginia Linick, AutoOne's vice president of IT, said her staff had just eight months to do the job and had to get it right the first time.

Linick licensed some of Mercury's quality control and performance management tools and brought in staffers from the vendor as consultants. Mercury helped AutoOne buy equipment, made recommendations on how to size the systems and tuned the applications to meet performance targets, she said.

David Wollin, managing director of emerging technologies at AXA Financial Inc., said his company has used Mercury's testing tools for four years. "It's helped out the business by improving the (applications) we actually deliver to our customers and to our employees," he said. "And the quality of the product is better on Day One."

By using the automated testing tools, New York-based AXA has also sharply reduced the time and the amount of IT resources needed to get applications out the door and into the hands of end users, Wollin added.

"Instead of having 12 people worrying about testing, I've got three or two," he said.

Mercury bought its IT governance tools through an acquisition of Sunnyvale-based Kintana Inc. that was completed in August. Glenn O'Donnell, an analyst at Meta Group Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the software automates the management of IT procedures -- "not so much dealing with the nuts and bolts but the actual operational processes."

Depending on which pieces of the four product sets a customer licenses, pricing could range from $15,000 to millions of dollars, said Christopher Lochhead, Mercury's chief marketing office.

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