Article

RightNow tool lets customers monitor hosted service

Matt Hines, SearchCRM.com

Online customer service software and services provider RightNow Technologies Inc. has released its latest tool aimed at giving users increased ability to monitor performance of hosted applications.

Dubbed Hosting Management System 2.0, the browser-based online dashboard tool promises to more closely track mission-critical systems managed by application service providers (ASPs). The dashboard arms users with statistics such as Web page download speed, bandwidth consumption and related applications' disk space.

Officials from the Bozeman, Mont.-based firm said they expect users to leverage the data to assess hosted applications' utilization and effectiveness, as well as to determine related Web site provisioning needs. HMS 2.0 will be included with all of RightNow's hosted customer service applications going forward, for no additional cost, the company reported.

According to RightNow CEO Greg Gianforte, tools such as HMS 2.0 are crucial to furthering the popularity and growth of ASPs with end users.

"The problem with the first generation of ASPs was that they had issues meeting customer expectations for control," Gianforte said. "This sort of dashboard not only gives users greater visibility into how their applications are working, it also provides an ability to run diagnostics and plan future investments."

Gianforte indicated that another major thrust of HMS 2.0 is that it allows users to upgrade from version to version at their own

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leisure. Forcing customers to endure "Frankenstein, throw-the-switch" upgrades has, in the past, been another dig against ASPs, he said.

The HMS 2.0 service also lets users set up test or pilot servers for upgrades of applications with the option of scheduling automatic transitioning of hosted production servers.

At least one industry analyst feels the dashboard technology release marks an evolution in the hosted applications model. Mary Wardley, vice president of CRM applications at Framingham, Mass.-based research firm International Data Corp., said users continue to hunger for more control over applications managed by ASPs.

"A lack of this sort of technology was one of the issues behind customer reticence toward the ASP model in its early days," Wardley said. "Tools like this will give users more insight into their business and help garner very salient information regarding hosted applications."

Wardley said she believes the HMS 2.0 offering is a good indication of the direction the ASP market will move in, as customers ask for greater visibility into their hosted systems.

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