Qovia Customers (Mostly) Like Expansion to Bigger Voice NetsBy Baselinemag | Posted 2005-10-01 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 itbut 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 featureslike automatically discovering network devices and displaying metrics graphicallythat 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."
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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