Mercury Interactive: Aiming at Bigger Picture

 
 
By Mel Duvall  |  Posted 2002-11-01
 
 
 

For years Mercury Interactive has been pigeonholed as a provider of testing and measurement software, winning an estimated 50% of the market.

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Now, the company wants to expand beyond that category and move to offer tools to help companies improve the overall operation of their technology infrastructure. On Oct. 3, Mercury launched its Business Technology Optimization (BTO) initiative built around a suite of products it calls Optane. It draws upon the management philosophy and techniques of W. Edwards Deming. His teachings about how to improve quality in manufacturing were the foundation of Japan's industrial rehabilitation after World War II, and can best be summed up by the directive, "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

Mercury customers appreciate the grander goal of fine-tuning technology infrastructure, but that's not why many buy Mercury products. For now, many customers turn to Mercury to solve a specific problem—be it in testing, measurement, or monitoring servers.

"They may be ahead of some of their customers, but they're headed in the right direction," says Bill Banze, senior manager of enterprise performance management for Infinis, a Columbus, Ohio-based consulting firm. He has installed Mercury products for clients such as Nationwide Insurance.

Avoiding surprises is the goal at National City, a regional bank headquartered in Cleveland. It's been using Mercury's LoadRunner product for about six years to stress-test its online banking and other applications. "We want to find the bottlenecks before our customers do," says Christopher Ulicky, manager of testing services.

Even as it broadens its customer base, Mercury must continue to satisfy customers with very specific needs like Vital Images, a company that provides systems that let radiologists see 3-D views of a patient's anatomy.

"Business optimization isn't my need," says Mike Swanson, director of software verification and testing. "My need is testing my applications, plain and simple."

He credits Mercury's testing application with reducing the number of people needed to test an application from five down to one.


Reference Checks
Executives listed here are all Mercury Interactive customers. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.

CATALINA MARKETING
Richard Wagner
Manager, Automated Testing
(727) 579-5000
Project: Uses Mercury's TestDirector and WinRunner to monitor and test performance of marketing applications it runs for some 16,000 store clients.

INFINIS
Bill Banze
Senior Manager, Enterprise Performance Management
(614) 436-9382
Project: Deploys products from Mercury and its competitors to test and monitor systems performance.

NATIONAL CITY
Christopher Ulicky
Manager, Testing Services
(216) 257-5090
Project: Has been using LoadRunner for about six years to stress-test applications before bringing then online. Used on online banking and enterprise applications such as PeopleSoft.

STANDARD & POOR'S
Brian Whitehead
VP, Chief Technology Architect
(212) 438-1000
Project: Has been using Mercury products for about six years to test and monitor what happens when visitors use the Web site.

VITAL IMAGES
Michael Swanson
Director, Software Verification and Testing
(763) 852-4100
Project: Uses Mercury's WinRunner to automate its software testing procedures. The Minneapolis company provides software for physicians to obtain 3-D views of a patient's anatomy.

LILLIAN VERNON
David Hochberg
Vice President
(914) 925-1200
Project: Mail order retailer has been using Mercury products since 2001 to stress-test Web site and monitor systems performance.

Company Profile

Mercury Interactive
1325 Borregas Ave.
Sunnyvale, CA 94089
(408) 822-5200
http://www.mercuryinteractive.com

Ticker: MERQ
Exchange: NASDAQ
Employees: 1,597

Amnon Landan
Chairman, President, CEO
Spent most of his career with Mercury, joining the company in 1989. Served in a variety of technical positions, including VP of research and development. Holds degree in computer science from Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.

Kenneth Klein
Chief Operating Officer
Responsible for worldwide operations, including sales, customer support, professional services. Joined company in 1992.

Doug Smith
Executive VP, CFO
Joined company in May 2000. Has served as CFO since November 2001.

Products
Products available in three categories: enterprise testing (TestDirector, WinRunner, LoadRunner, Astra QuickTest and LoadTest), production tuning (ActiveTune, ProTune) and application performance management (Topaz, ActiveWatch). Latest push is the Optane Business Technology Optimization suite, which integrates products from all three areas.