Do Unto Others

Born from VAR roots, the Windows admin tool vendor ScriptLogic treats its partners and customers like gold.

As a trained physical therapist, Tim Pierson knows something about how to fix physical pain. But after he became IT director at Apple Physical Therapy Inc. in Puyallup, Wash., he found himself dealing with an entirely different kind of pain, the kind that comes with trying to manage 180 desktops and 300 end users at more than 20 locations -- by yourself.

A local service provider, Northwest Computer Support Inc. of Tukwila, Wash., helped ease Pierson's pain by implementing several products from Boca Raton, Fla.-based ScriptLogic Corp., most notably its Desktop Authority administration tool. Desktop Authority enabled Pierson to centrally control the configuration of all workstations, even tailoring configurations to the person who happens to be using the machine at any given time -- an important consideration in an environment where desktops are routinely shared.

The story of Apple Physical Therapy and Northwest Computer Support is typical of the kind of relationships that ScriptLogic, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, has with both reseller partners and end customers. Brian Styles, ScriptLogic's chief technology officer, was himself a service provider until he saw an opportunity for a company focused on delivering Windows administration tools and switched gears to become an ISV. Asked how his VAR experience affected his thinking about the kind of company ScriptLogic would be, Styles says: "It has shaped it in every way." That includes the company's channel program, which VARs like Northwest agree is a fair one to all concerned.

Therapy for Apple PT

But it's the ScriptLogic products that have been a godsend to Pierson and Apple Physical Therapy. Pierson is a former staff therapist who, through a series of promotions, landed in the headquarters office. As the company grew and needed more technology to keep it running smoothly, he offered suggestions on how to incorporate new technology into normal workflows. When the time came to create a full-time IT position, Pierson filled it, even though he had no formal technology training.

He did, however, have a keen interest in the subject. When one of the doctors that Apple works with invited him to an open house at his new office, Pierson says that he was "drooling" at the technology on display there, such as the surgical rooms where a doctor can pull up real-time MRI images on a plasma screen or launch a video call to a colleague. At the event, Pierson struck up a conversation with a senior engineer from Northwest Computer Support, which had installed all the computer equipment in the doctor's office. Before long, the two were talking about how Northwest could help Apple.

As Apple grew over time, each new location was set up as its own workgroup. Computers in the same location could communicate with one another and share files with remote users via the VPN. But management was a chore. "I had to physically visit the remote machine or use something like VNC (Virtual Network Computing)," Pierson recalls. "That's a hassle because the end user often has to take some steps to allow me to connect in." With 200 workstations and 300 users, the plan was simply not scalable.

Northwest Computing encouraged Apple to create a single domain structure under Active Directory and told Pierson how the ScriptLogic tools could help him remotely administer workstations. "Once I saw what the ScriptLogic tools could do, it was kind of a no-brainer," Pierson says.

ScriptLogic Desktop Authority allows Apple to manage the configuration of all desktops and allows for remote administration, including patching. It enables Pierson to conduct software audits and issue security prompts, be they random pop-up windows with security reminders or a message upon login, such as a password change prompt. Desktop Authority also enables Apple to ensure that each user sees the same setup every time he or she logs in to a machine, no matter which machine that may be, right down to the available printers. That's an important consideration given that the company's physical therapists don't have dedicated PCs; they simply log in to whatever machine happens to be available as they finish with each client.

Desktop Authority lets staffers take their laptops between offices; each computer will immediately have access to the appropriate resources, such as printers, and those to which the user no longer has access won't be visible. "That's all done at login," Pierson says. "Before, I'd get a call" every time users moved between offices.

A couple of other ScriptLogic tools -- Secure Copy and Enterprise Security Reporter -- help Apple keep in compliance with the privacy regulations set by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Secure Copy automatically backs up documents stored on local file shares, complete with surrounding metadata, which is crucial for HIPAA compliance. Enterprise Security Reporter helps Apple produce various reports, such as login and access reports, that can point to security problems.

ScriptLogic Corp.

Headquarters: Boca Raton, Fla.

CEO: Jason Judge; leadership also includes Brian Styles, CTO and founder

Founded: 2000

Line of Business: Network administration software for Microsoft Windows-based networks

Microsoft Partner Program Level: Gold Certified

Microsoft Competencies: ISV

Annual Revenue: Undisclosed

Growth Rate: 67 percent CAGR since 2002

Employees: 139 in five locations

Customer Base: More than 17,000 customers use ScriptLogic solutions to manage approximately four million desktops and 96,000 servers.

The company targets any size network in any industry

Clients: The Home Depot USA Inc., Yahoo! Inc., General Electric Co., Verizon Wireless, American Express Co., U.S. Department of Defense, Kohl's Illinois Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield Association

Awards: 2005 Best Security Solution at Microsoft TechEd Europe (Active Administrator); 15th Fastest Growing Technology Company in North America, Deloitte Fast 500, 2005; named to the Inc. 500 list of America's fastest-growing private companies for third consecutive year (2004, 2005 and 2006)

Birth of a Market

The kind of administration tools that Pierson finds so useful didn't exist in the mid- to late 1990s, when Windows NT 4 was taking market share from Novell Inc.'s NetWare. At that time, Styles was with Inteletek, the predecessor to ScriptLogic and a network integrator that made money installing and supporting NetWare networks. When it was clear the company had to shift to NT to survive, Styles says, it scrambled to find the kind of administration tools for NT that it was accustomed to in the NetWare world.

"When we exhausted our resources trying to find a packaged tool to provide to customers, we made the decision to try and put something together ourselves," he says. "Back in the mid- to late '90s, the plan was to just develop a tool that we could take from customer to customer that would allow us to do our job more effectively, and become a reason for customers to do business with us. We blew those expectations out of the water. We built it and they came."

But Styles has never forgotten his VAR roots, and his philosophy for dealing with his own channel partners is based on the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In practice, that means equal benefit for equal investment.

Training is one example. "They understand that when we take someone out of the field for training, that's $1,200 per day in billable time," says Tom Rash, president of Northwest Computer Support. "So they don't make you pay for it."

That's not available to all partners, however; only to the Gold and Platinum level partners that commit to selling a minimum amount of ScriptLogic products each year -- $75,000 for Gold and $250,000 for Platinum. There's also a Silver level, but ScriptLogic focuses on the two top tiers, which represent the most committed partners.

"A lot of VARs work very hard, and a lot don't," Styles says. "We've done a very good job of building a focused partner program with approximately 50 very active [Gold and Platinum] partners."

ScriptLogic is also sensitive to the competitive realities of the marketplace that can make it difficult for VARs to land deals against national companies and catalogs once customers start price-shopping. "We want partners to make at least 15 to 20 points regardless of where the customer shops the deal," says Bill Masters, director of channel sales at ScriptLogic.

The company also offers a deal registration program under which Gold and Platinum partners can earn up to 7 percent of a deal's value if they first bring in the prospect, even if another company ultimately lands the business.

"The deal registration [program] is well done. They're not going to let their partners lose," Rash says. "They're smart enough to understand that whoever adds the value, you better take care of them."

Partner and Customer Accolades

Indeed, Styles' "do unto others" philosophy seems to permeate the company. Pierson calls ScriptLogic's phone support "outstanding." He says he always gets connected to the most appropriate person for each issue; typically the problem either gets solved before he gets off the phone, or he gets a workaround. And the conversations often lead to discussions about features and functions that are far afield from the original problem. "They just help me as much as I need until I want to get off the phone," Pierson says. "I don't always get that level of quality with other companies."

Northwest Computer has had much the same experience, Rash says. "When we need help, we get it. If we need it, we can get an SE on site to help one of our customers," he says. He also appreciates that Northwest gets to use ScriptLogic products internally. "It's always nice to get internal use licenses." Further, ScriptLogic helps out with market development funds for events, including trade shows, tech fairs and "lunch and learn" events. "We're probably doing about one event per quarter with ScriptLogic," Rash says.

Most of all, though, Pierson appreciates what the ScriptLogic products have done for him at Apple Physical Therapy. "ScriptLogic has made the IT department more efficient, allowing me to do more with less effort," he says. "It also allows me to maintain better compliance with HIPAA requirements."

By helping to keep desktops running as they should, the products improve productivity not just for Pierson, but for all Apple employees. "We've gone from 50 to 70 help desk tickets on average per day to less than five to 10 on a really bad day," he says. "Each takes 20 to 30 minutes to fix on average, so it's quite a time savings."