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Succeeding as a Tool Provider: Let Customers "Productize" the Tool

As part of reviewing dynaTrace's Enterprise and AJAX packages, I spoke with Eric Senunas, senior director of Marketing and Communications at dynaTrace, about the company's view of the .NET toolspace and the secrets to succeeding in that space.

dynaTrace is an interesting company to comment on the .NET toolspace because they've always supported both the Java and .NET environments. Eric said that they're seeing more non-.NET developers moving to .NET and a real, growing ecosystem around the Microsoft framework. As dynaTrace sees growth in the .NET area (Eric noted that 80 percent of their opportunities in Scandinavia are .NET-related), the company moves .NET features and enhancements "up in the roadmap." Eric's willing to ascribe that growth as much to Visual Basic 6 developers moving "into the enterprise" as developers moving from other environments.

What was more interesting from my point of view was Eric's comments about what it takes to succeed as a tool vendor. While dynaTrace has lots of good ideas developed in house, the company doesn't want to build anything that customers don't want. dynaTrace looks to its customers to help "productize" dynaTrace. dynaTrace's CEO is always asking where's the customer use case before agreeing to extending the product, said Senunas.

As a result, not all product enhancements are technical. For instance, with their latest release, one of the features that dynaTrace concentrated on was improving the customer's OOB (Out Of the Box) experience. dynaTrace is a very flexible tool with lots of customization options, coupled with the ability to create a variety of dashboards to view the information returned by dynaTrace. "We've never needed an army of consultants to get our customers up to speed", Eric noted, but customers did have to configure dynaTrace to do what they wanted before really using the product.

With the new release, in addition to numerous technical enhancements, dynaTrace provided Deployment FastPacks. These are pre-configured settings that set up dynaTrace to work with BizTalk, SharePoint and other environments where dynaTrace customers manage applications. Instead of having to take the time to tweak dynaTrace themselves, customers can get started using the product sooner.

The FastPacks also include prebuilt dashboards aimed at specific stakeholders within their customers: one dashboard provided information that operations people would need; a dashboard with more granular information targeted system architects; yet another dashboard was aimed at developers.

Posted by Peter Vogel on 04/21/2010

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