A Minneapolis, Minn.-based software company expects demand for its network analysis solutions here to double with the opening of its first-ever Canadian office in Toronto this week.

The Canadian market currently accounts for 20 per cent of the company’s overall sales and would likely grow

to somewhere around 50 per cent once it has a sales rep in Toronto, said Bruce Clark, vice-president of sales at Network Instruments LLC. Overall, the maker of the Observer suite of network management software products experienced 25 per cent growth last year with 31 per cent growth internationally.

Network Instruments is looking to hire a sales rep for the Toronto office, which marks the company’s third worldwide location since its inception in 1994, sometime in the first half of this year.

“We’ve done some interviewing but haven’t found the right candidate at this point in time. I didn’t get the warm fuzzies that I want,” said Clark. “The dealers that we do have up there have requested that we have a local presence.”

Canada was the next “natural step” for the firm, which has six locations in the U.S. as well as offices in London and Paris. It also has distributors in 50 countries, said Veena Vadgama, marketing communications director at Network Instruments.

“We’ve seen with our partners, dealers and resellers that having a more localized office in a lot of areas has really helped better our relations with a lot of our local customers and partners,” said Vadgama.

She said the move to expand north of the border coincides with an increasing demand for network analysis solutions driven by better return on investment rates than its main competitor, Sniffer.

“Our products usually (cost) 50 to 55 per cent less than our biggest competitor, Sniffer,” said Vadgama.

Product feature benefits over Sniffer include the ability for users to monitor multiple networks like LAN, 802.11a/b/g/ at once as opposed to buying point products for each, said Vadgama. Observer also supports up to 64 peoplelooking at one probe at the same time or a network administrator can monitor 64probes from one system.

Network Instruments has 10 partners in Canada including CDW, Softchoice and Montreal-based integrator Altea Communications Inc. All of Network Instruments’ business in Canada goes through the channel. It stopped selling direct here two years ago but about 40 per cent of its business in the U.S. isthrough inside sales.

Christophe Boy, technical manager at Altea, which has been a partner for five years, said he expects the new office to grow his Network Instruments business by 10 per cent this year.

“Now we don’t have to spend a lot of time focusing on Network Instruments products,” said Boy. “It will help us to promote and tomove in the same direction as Network Instruments.”

Altea sells network management, applications management and security solutions to government, including the department of defense, health care and SMB sectors.

Boy added the majority of Altea’s business comes from Ontario, particularly Toronto and Ottawa, making the location of the new office ideally situated.

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