Equinox enjoys Rational toolset boom

Equinox enjoys Rational toolset boom

WELLINGTON-based consultancy Equinox is crediting last year’s IBM takeover of Rational as helping to fuel a four-fold increase in the size of the business.

The software architect has increased its staff by 10 to 40 over the past 18 months and plans to open an Auckland office, employing six, within the next few months.

Equinox opened in 1995 and became a Rational business partner in 1997. Rational, which produces a suite of software tools used by developers, previously had a direct sales model, with sales staff based in Auckland and Wellington.

But following the takeover by IBM, the new IBM Rational adopted a 100% channel model, along the lines of other IBM software products, with Express Data becoming distributor at the start of this year.

Equinox managing director Roger Dalgleish says before the IBM takeover, his business simply acted as a consultancy partner to Rational. But then it was able to sell Rational tools and also become IBM’s only Rational trainer in New Zealand. The Rational toolset, he says, is unique in that its individual “points” (testing tools) are integrated into a suite of products that drove their productivity.

However, Dalgleish claims the toolset was either stable or in decline as a developer tool in New Zealand until the takeover, though it had 80% of the local testing market.

Rational is now increasingly integrated into IBM products, especially WebSphere, he says, and IBM is also trying to “leverage the Rational toolset in the marketplace”.

Consequently, as a Rational provider in New Zealand, Equinox has been able to gain new markets, provide extra services and create new sources of revenue.

Four-fold growth in turnover should see the business make $6 to $7 million in sales in 2004, he says.

Equinox has recruited a Rational specialist from Europe, it has certified 12 of its consultants in Rational (eight to trainer level) and plans to employ four more certified consultants over the next six months.

Dalgleish says there is such demand for Rational software, training and consultancy, that the company will open an Auckland office in October or November, employing six staff by March 2005.

“The decision by IBM was a very sound strategy. IBM will see growth in the Rational market now,” he says.

IBM confirms “strong growth” in its Rational sales this year, but declines to give figures.

IBM New Zealand software manager Simon Holland says Big Blue is building up a “strong software community” and gaining access to new relationships.

The takeover also led Rational’s direct sales staff to move across to IBM and support the channel.

IBM’s Australia and New Zealand Rational channels and SMB manager, Ryan Morrell, says IBM was training and upskilling channel members, whose numbers he hopes to increase. These partners are typically systems integrators and consultancies, and include Certus, Gen-i and SolNet.

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