Brighton’s Xcend Growing With Dashboard Software
BRIGHTON (WWJ) — A Brighton company that started out as a consultant in Altiris software, helping companies configure and deploy laptop and desktop software rollouts, is now finding increasing success with its own dashboard software product.
Ron Schoenherr, the remaining original partner in Xcend, said he worked at Altiris until 2005, when he basically submitted his resignation and his application to be an Altiris implementation partner the same day.
“I recognized a need for a consulting organization for Altiris beyond basic installation,” Schoenherr said.
So did Altiris — it named Xcend its Altiris Partner of the Year just a year later, in 2006.
Symantec’s 2007 acquisition of Altiris, Schoenherr said, only broadened the software Xcend could sell.
Along the way, Xcend built a dashboard for Altiris’ help desk product to help users keep track of help desk performance. The first iteration worked only for that product and wasn’t customizable.
Then, Schoenherr and his team got the idea of building an application that could show performance dashboard data for all of the IT management tools a modern company uses — dozens, involving everything from networking to security to data center performance to compliance.
“All these tools generate an incredible amount of data,” Schoenherr said. “How do executives gain access to that information so they can be more productive?”
Xcend thinks it’s MetriX dashboard software is the answer.
“A lot of traditional BI solutions don’t scale very well into IT organizations due to cost and complexity,” Schoenherr said. “So we designed this so it can be deployed in a couple weeks.”
The software allows users to create graphs or speedometers showing performance against key performance indicators for literally dozens of kinds of IT management software.
One example: Symantec Asset Management software. Xcend demonstrated a Microsoft software compliance dashboard that provided a wealth of information on whether a company had more licenses than users — meaning it had “shelfware” and was wasting money” — or more users than licenses, meaning it was inviting a software audit and a lawsuit. All the graphs were the product of making database inquiries into Symantec Asset Management, which isn’t designed to show its results that way.
The same process works for a wide variety of IT management software from vendors as disparate as EMC, VMware and IBM.
The company currently employs about 20, roughly six of whom work in the Brighton headquarters. The rest are scattered around the country, from New York to Texas to California. The company does all of its own software development in-house.
The information created by MetriX is all Web-based and can be viewed from anywhere there’s a Web connection. Different people within an organization can be set up to view different charts and graphs — authorization is customizable.
There’s also a custom dashboard designer that allows virtually any metric captured by the software to be displayed, in a wide variety of formats — fever chart, bar chart, speedometer. And designing a custom dashboard is all drag-and-drop, meaning no technical database knowledge is required.
“Everything is drag and drop, and you can build your own dashboard,” said partner William C. Johnson. “I don’t have to be a DBA, I don’t have to understand how to build SQL queries. We can teach anybody to use this product. And it can display anything that’s being measured.”
Xcend currently has about 75 customers. And now it’s branching out into using the software to build dashboards on information that isn’t IT related — for example, sales, by product, territory or salesperson.
“The reason BI systems fail is cost and complexity,” Schoenherr said. “We take both out by serving up all these KPI’s in a central repository.”
The product is sold as an on-premise application. A typical sale is a single-server license for 15 designers and 100 users.
“We do not collect any information, just query a database,” Johnson said.
The Michigan Small Business and Technology Development Center is currently helping Xcend with marketing, the structure of a sales and management organization, developing a business plan, and getting ready for meeting with potential investors.
More at www.xcendgroup.com