Voyence Shores Up Configuration Management Lineup

The network configuration management company bolsters its product line with the purchase of Ponte Communications.

The field of players in the network configuration management market niche will shrink on Monday when Voyence Inc. announces its acquisition of Ponte Communications Inc.

The privately held Voyence would not reveal the purchase price, but it represents the second such acquisition it has made in the last year. Last September the Richardson, Texas, company acquired Clairvoyant Software.

Voyence and a handful of companies in the consolidating market provide configuration management for heterogeneous networks. Voyence manages configurations and tracks changes for a growing number of networking devices from Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks Ltd., 3Com Corp. and Extreme Networks Inc.

While Cisco and Nortel provide configuration management tools for their own networking devices, they do not manage other vendors devices.

Despite predictions of further "M&A activity," industry observer Glenn ODonnell of Meta Group Inc. sees the market as a high growth one because it promises to bring much needed automation and productivity improvements to the task of configuring and updating routers, switches and other networking devices.

"Configuration management—especially in the networking arena—is absurdly manual. This market is a prime area for automation because of the highly manual nature of what we do there," said ODonnell, program director at Meta Group in Palmerton, Pa.

In fact, ODonnell predicted that large enterprise management suppliers such as IBMs Tivoli unit, BMC Software and Hewlett-Packard Co.s OpenView unit are eyeing the market.

Both Voyence and Ponte focus on large-scale enterprise and service provider networks, and both companies products are based on a multitiered architecture.

"The technology is very compatible with ours," said Michael Bunyard, vice president of marketing for Voyence. "There were things on our product roadmap that customers want and Ponte has. They have [features] that help customers network engineers better administer [Cisco] IOS upgrades to their networks. They understand how to push out IOS updates and recognize vulnerabilities in the router configurations themselves."

Voyence plans to move quickly to integrate the Mountain View, Calif., companys Network Control Center software into its own offerings. It will not support "two different code streams," Bunyard said. Initial integration is expected to be ready by years end.

"Were working with Ponte customers to smooth the transition. We will make sure all the data in their repositories is preserved," he said.

The acquisition is expected to be completed by mid-October. Bunyard would not rule out further acquisitions. "We have cash in the bank. When opportunities come up to gain more customers or extend our footprint, well jump on it," he said.

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