SMB - Everest enters on-demand market, takes on NetSuite

SMB applications vendor Everest Software is hoping its Monday move into the on-demand market will both attract more customers and raise its own profile.

Everest Software, a U.S. vendor of Windows business applications for small to midsize businesses (SMBs), hopes its Monday move into the on-demand market will net it more customers and better position the company against midmarket leader NetSuite.

Business applications vendors of all sizes are currently experimenting with the hosted software model pioneered by NetSuite and to see if the approach is popular with customers and likely to generate significant revenue.

Everest defines the SMB market as companies employing 5 to 75 staff with revenue up to $US20 million, said David Gutch, the company's senior vice president, worldwide sales and marketing. The firm targets users who find that they can no longer run their businesses on Microsoft's Excel spreadsheets or Intuit's entry-level accounting software QuickBooks and are looking for extra functionality at a low price.

Prior to Monday, Everest offered an on-premise combination of ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management) capabilities with optional electronic commerce and point of sale (POS) add-ons. The company has made its Advanced software also available as Everest On-Demand, a hosted version of the software accessible via a broadband Internet connection. Pricing for the software, implementation services and support starts at $US300 per month for two users with a minimum one-year contract.

Dirt Cheap Drives, a reseller of computer disk drives and other IT components is already up and running with Everest On-Demand.

"It's a lot more affordable for a small business," said Karen Timme, chief executive officer at the reseller. Moving to a hosted model means that she no longer has to employ a full-time IT staffer to ensure the Everest applications are always operational. Timme can also stop spending a "ton of money" on air conditioning to cool the server the software's running on, she added.

Dirt Cheap Drives has a six-user license for Everest and much of its business revolves around credit card processing. Timme feels confident about Everest's ability to protect sensitive data given the reputation of the company's hosting partner, Equinix, she said. With data centers in the U.S. and around the world, Equinix hosts software for companies including Google and Yahoo. "I feel real secure," Timme added.

Everest offers users two hosted options, Gutch said. In the dedicated on-demand model, an Everest customer has a server reserved exclusively for its use. A less expensive option is the shared on-demand approach where a user shares computing hardware with other companies.

Founded in 1994 and known as iCode until October of last year, Everest has more than 1,200 registered users, 90 percent of whom are in the U.S., Gutch said. The company has 165 full-time staff split between the U.S. and its research facility in Bangalore, India.

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