Qovia Customers (Mostly) Like Expansion to Bigger Voice Nets

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2005-10-01 Print this article Print

Qovia made customers happy with a call-monitoring product for 3Com voice systems, but killed it earlier this year to focus on bigger installations. It alienated some 3Com customers, but is making others happy with good service and improving technology.

Three-year-old startup Qovia cut its baby teeth with a system for managing 3Com's Internet Protocol phone systems. Many customers loved it—but the company scrapped that product earlier this year to focus on Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks gear.

That left some customers feeling abandoned. Last fall Fritz Fekete, director of information systems for teachers' union Ohio Education Association, spent $50,000 for 25 Ion appliances to let his staff of seven administrators keep a handle on the 3Com NBX phone switches in the association's 25 offices statewide. Then, says Fekete, "right after we bought them, Qovia decided they weren't going to support 3Com anymore." The company gave him a final software upgrade for free, "but beyond that, I didn't get much."

A Qovia spokesman says the company phased out the 3Com version of its product because 3Com focuses on small and midsize companies, so it "doesn't offer the revenue potential that vendors like Cisco and Nortel offer."

Initially, however, Qovia's product for Cisco phone systems was "missing a lot of basic features," says Mark Melvin, director of solutions engineering at Apptis, a network consulting firm in Chantilly, Va. "There was tons of stuff that needed improvement."

Melvin first evaluated the product in the spring of 2004. By fall, he says, Qovia had added enough features—like automatically discovering network devices and displaying metrics graphically—that he decided to deploy it to monitor Apptis' own 600-phone IP telephony environment. Qovia helps his team find problems with the voice network in minutes rather than hours: "It brings me to resolution much more quickly."

For Bobby Parrish, senior information-technology specialist for the city of Jacksonville, N.C., Qovia's system provides a central place to track IP telephony statistics. Qovia's product "is almost idiot-proof," he says, providing green-yellow-red indicators to show the status of network elements. Moreover, he notes that "we've never had anything but good success with Qovia's support personnel."

There's still room for improvement: Parrish says the product's ability to analyze statistics on external telecommunications links (like T1 lines) could be improved. But all in all, he says, "Qovia's getting there."

IP Telephony Management

7470 New Technology Way
Frederick, Md 21703
(301) 846-0020

Ticker: Privately Held
Employees: 50

David Woodall
President & CEO
Before joining the company in January, he was a partner with Threshold Partners, a business consulting firm for early stage companies. Prior to that, he was CEO of Fidelia Technology, a network management software company, and CEO of Trinagy, a network performance management startup acquired by Hewlett-Packard. He speaks Portuguese, Spanish and French.

Choon Shim
CTO & SVP, Engineering
Formerly president of Widearea Data Systems, a developer of collaboration software. Before that, he was a principal engineer at Merant, a software change-management company acquired by Serena Software in 2004.

Qovia Ion is a Linux-based server system that aggregates information from Cisco, Nortel or 3Com Internet Protocol phone systems and other network infrastructure devices; it can send alerts via e-mail or pagers if performance or quality thresholds are exceeded.

Reference Checks

City of Jacksonville, N.C.
Bobby Parrish
Sr. I.T. Specialist
Project: City government uses Qovia to monitor Cisco IP telephony systems running 240 phones at 16 locations.

General Services Administration
Tennille Spence
I.T. Business Liaison
Project: Federal agency's Kansas City, Mo., office tests calls on its 350-phone Cisco system with Qovia.

Ohio Education Association
Fritz Fekete
Dir., IS and Research
Project: State teacher's union with 200 employees and technical support staff of seven bought Qovia last year to remotely identify and correct problems with its 25 3Com NBX phone systems.

Ventura Unified School District
Ted Malos
Dir., Technology
Project: School district deployed Qovia's Ion devices in 2002 to monitor 3Com NBX systems at its headquarters in Ventura, Calif., and 25 school sites.

Matt Brunk
Project: Voice network consulting firm in Monrovia, Md., remotely monitors 3Com-based phone systems for eight customers with a total of 600 phones using Qovia's tools.

Mark Melvin
Dir., Solutions Engineering
(703) 279-3000
Project: Network consulting firm runs Cisco CallManager, which handles about 600 phones in six U.S. offices, and uses Qovia to measure call quality and analyze calls in progress.

Executives listed here are all users of Qovia's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

Revenue, 2004: $6 million (Baseline estimate)
Venture funding: $16.1 million in two rounds
Investors: Canaan Partners, BlueRun Ventures (formerly Nokia Venture Partners), Anthem Capital, the State of Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development Fund
No. of customers claimed: 100
Key customers: General Services Administration; City of Jacksonville, N.C.; Intel

Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, NEC

The company has tested its products with: Cisco's CallManager versions 4.0 and 4.1; Nortel's CS 1000; and 3Com's NBX up to version 4.2.7 (with no plans to support 4.3 or later).


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