WRQ Opens Door to Rumba Customers

The sharks are already circling. Following a long period of change and turmoil, Wall Data--a long-standing player in the host access market--was acquired by NetManage last month.

Looking to capitalize on the uncertainty surrounding the acquisition and gain market share in a field that is clearly declining, WRQ Inc. (Seattle) announced its WRQ Open Door Program that allows Wall Data's Rumba and Cyberprise customers to receive free WRQ Reflection products and support with no obligation.

"As they see the direction we are moving in, we are confident the long-term value will far outweigh the significant investment we are making," says Shaun Wolfe, VP of Host Access at WRQ. "We're looking at this as a long term, multiyear investment."

Wall Data customers simply have to register on WRQ's Web site by January 31, 2000 and they will receive the corresponding Reflection product, with the matching number of per-seat licenses. Customers who have a current Wall Data maintenance agreement will receive free maintenance from WRQ for six months.

"Some will install our product right away, but many will use it to keep their options open as they see they see where the NetManage-Wall Data acquisition goes," says Wolfe. "It's a risk-free option."

The idea of the Open Door Program did not occur until the day the acquisition was announced. "That afternoon we met and decided this was an opportunity to attract some new customers," Wolfe says.

Although the Open Door program is a huge financial investment, Wolfe expects it to pay off. "We have seen Wall Data customer dissatisfaction in a number of ways, like surveys and direct telephone contact," he says. "We've never done anything like this, but the unique combination of uncertainty of installed base and the influence of the Web on this market was something we could not pass up."

Cindy Borovick, research manager for IDC (Framingham, Mass.), says WRQ's Open Door is a very aggressive public move, but does not expect it to result in a major shift of Rumba customers to WRQ.

"There's a significant amount of brand loyalty with Rumba customers," says Borovick. "Just because Wall Data has been acquired by NetManage doesn't mean they're going to rip out what they have. NetManage clearly understands the assets of Rumba and has a history of holding onto products."

She does feel, however, that the WRQ open door program can have success in certain areas. "A lot of the host access market is co-installed," she says. "There are accounts where WRQ and Wall Data have the same customers. With the Open Door program, WRQ has the ability to get those customers to move completely to their product line."

While acknowledging that WRQ was a formidable competitor, Marilyn Kansas, NetManage's VP of Field Marketing, says she does not expect Rumba customers to switch to WRQ. "You get what you pay for and Rumba is a very strong product. I don't think our customers will switch just because of the acquisition."

For now, Kansas says NetManage will keep Rumba intact. She did admit that, in the future, however, the Rumba product line might include pieces of NetManage's eN2000 architecture, as the market moves to thin clients and Web integration.

Audrey Apfel, VP of Networking at the GartnerGroup, shares similar sentiments. "We expect NetManage will work hard not to disrupt Wall Data's Rumba customers. Enterprises using Rumba products should expect that over the long term they will be positioned to move to a consolidated NetManage platform, such as the eN2000 offering."