HP defector gives Micromuse cause for hope

The first six months in charge of Micromuse have been busy ones for new CEO Lloyd Carney, a veteran of the technology industry.

He has spearheaded the UK-founded network management software company’s push ‘upwards’ into the lucrative systems management sector. He has been drawn into an investigation of the company’s past accounting practices, leading him to make a series of doubtless awkward appearances before stock market regulators. And he has refreshed the management team, promising that things will begin to settle down after the current period of upheaval.

Yet perhaps the most significant thing he has done so far has been to persuade a 20-year Hewlett-Packard veteran, Arun Oberoi, to defect. Oberoi, a former HP head of software sales and marketing who helped build up the successful OpenView systems management portfolio, took over last month as Micromuse’s executive vice president of global sales and technical services, after a three-month courtship.

When his appointment was announced on 12 January, Micromuse’s mostly UK-based staff were pleasantly surprised. “The sales team were saying: ‘This is a real coup getting this guy. How did we manage it?’ But there’s no mystery. He respects what we are doing and he knew that coming here would be a good move,” says Carney.

What makes Oberoi’s defection so significant, to Micromuse executives at least, is the influence he will help bring to bear on the company’s most critical emerging battleground.

For some time, Micromuse has sought, with varying degrees of success, to draw business away from its arch rival, HP. “I lose more to HP than anyone else today. I run into the most difficulties with HP of any of my competitors. But that is where we have the most potential for growth,” says Carney.

Admittedly, there is more to Micromuse’s credentials as an enterprise software supplier than playing the role of HP alternative. Strong partnerships have helped; it is likely, for example, that businesses running IP telephony systems supplied by Cisco Systems or DSL equipment from Alcatel will manage their network with the help of Micromuse’s flagship product, Netcool, which is bundled with the hardware.

An increasingly strong network-level security component is also helping the company win new business. A growing focus among enterprises and their network suppliers on the importance of service-level management and business-driven service level agreements is playing to Micromuse’s strengths, too.

What is more, Micromuse’s heritage in managing huge numbers of network-related ‘events’ for big telecoms operators ought to make it a natural choice for major organisations with large-scale systems environments.

But the appointment of Oberoi seems to reflect a sense that something more is required. And not just to compete more strongly against HP. Oberoi’s knowledge and experience will also help Micromuse increase its share of wins against other systems management software vendors, including such industry giants IBM Tivoli, Computer Associates and BMC Software.

Micromuse currently gathers about 40% of its revenue from the enterprise sector, including car maker General Motors, online auctioneer eBay and airline Virgin Atlantic (the rest comes from the telecoms sector). Carney wants to increase that proportion.

And with Arun Oberoi as his head of sales, he arguably stands a much better chance of doing it.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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