Cramer Gets T-Soft, Nixes IPO

OSS player Cramer Systems Ltd. has revamped its market strategy under new CEO Guy Dubois, scrapping its IPO plans and focusing instead on expansion beyond its core market of network inventory management. (See Cramer Dubs Dubois CEO.)

That expansion started today with the acquisition of Israeli OSS firm T-Soft, a specialist in network discovery and data reconciliation that counts carriers such as Belgacom SA (Euronext: BELG), Broadwing Corp. (Nasdaq: BWNG), and Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) among its customers. (See Cramer Acquires T-Soft.)

The move makes sense, as the discovery and reconciliation capabilities of T-Soft's technology go hand in hand with the inventory database, providing it with up-to-date and accurate information about network elements and usage. Cramer has not had its own discovery tool to date.

Cramer declined to provide financial details, but said it is taking on all 20 T-Soft employees.

The company's decision to abandon plans to go public is a more seismic shift. Cramer's previous CEO, Jerry Crook (giggle), was steering the British firm towards a market listing before he stepped down to, er, spend time with the feds. (See Crook Indicted by FBI and Cramer Preps an IPO.)

Enter Dubois, who joined in July 2005 from PeopleSoft Inc. (Nasdaq: PSFT). The CEO says he spent 15 years working at listed companies, and that experience prompted him to shelve Cramer's IPO plans. "I know what it means to be a listed company, and it's not compatible with our strategy. We're in no rush to execute an exit strategy -- we want the freedom to invest, and not be pressured by people that want to get rich quickly," says Dubois. "And I don't miss having to make quarterly reports."

Instead, the Frenchman is taking Cramer beyond the inventory space, where it has built a solid position as one of the clear market leaders alongside Telcordia Technologies Inc. , though other firms are biting at Cramer's heels. (See Cramer Cracks at NetCracker, OSS Firms Shake Up Market, and BT Awards Monster OSS Deal.)

Dubois says the plan is to launch seven new products that will enable Cramer to provide carriers with a complete fulfillment capability, including provisioning and activation that will utilize the core inventory management platform.

These new capabilities will be incorporated into the firm's next OSS release, due to be announced at the end of March, and dubbed the Cramer6 OSS Suite. Among the new capabilities will be class-of-service management and OSS modules designed to support service delivery platforms (SDPs) and IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) implementations.

"IMS and SDP evolution are driving NGN change. We're looking at IMS -- it brings a lot of complexity, and we'll be addressing IMS in our new architecture," says Dubois. (See IBM, Cramer Team on SDPs.)

This portfolio expansion involves increasing the company's R&D spend by more than 50 percent, some of which is going towards staffing up the firm's new development center in Bangalore.

Breaking into provisioning and activation brings Cramer head-to-head with some significant competition, including the resurgent OSS all-rounder MetaSolv Software Inc. (Nasdaq: MSLV), and specialists such as Axiom Systems Inc. and Syndesis Ltd. , as well as regular rivals Telcordia and Netcracker Technology Corp. (See MetaSolv Scores at BellSouth, Who Makes What: OSS Update, Syndesis Makes Its M&A Move, Syndesis Lands Monster OSS Deal, Telekom Austria Uses Axiom, and C&W Uses Axiom's OSS.)

Dubois hopes the expansion will enable Cramer to break into new territories. The company has been strong in Western Europe and has even had significant success in North America, most notably at BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), an as yet unannounced customer. That deployment has resulted in the opening of an Atlanta office. (See Cramer Expands in Atlanta.)

But the CEO says Cramer hasn't been so successful in Eastern Europe, and needs to beef up its presence and traction in the Asia/Pacific region, where it has had limited success. "The Asia/Pacific is the next big market -- we see a lot of potential in Japan, China, and Australia." (See Cramer Wins in Malaysia, Cramer Wins Thai Contract, Cramer Cracks Japan, and Cramer Joins the Asia Pack.)

The company has also expanded into the services sector with the creation of Cramer Global Services, which now accounts for more than 100 of Cramer's 350 staff. "This industry is full of projects that were started but never finished. We're aiming to support our partners and so help our customers deploy their systems more efficiently," says the CEO. (See Cramer Names Global Services Head, Cramer, Nortel Team Up , Cramer, Micromuse Link OSSs, and Cramer, HP Link Their OSSs.)

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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