Perth ISV fights AIDS with US software win

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Perth ISV Brookstone Technologies has won a four-year contract worth up to $39 million to supply its .NET-based Virtual Office software to a US aid organisation fighting AIDS worldwide.

John Stockbridge, director at Brookstone, said the deal was the ISV's biggest win yet. The aid organisation, hopeandcare International, would deploy Brookstone Virtual Office on the PocketPCs and notebooks of up to 7,500 therapists combating HIV and AIDS in Africa.

'What they're doing is building about 2,000 orphan villages in Africa over the next four years and have got a therapist going into each village and teaching the kids about nutrition and cleanliness and so on,' he said.

The orphans were all HIV-positive, had fully-blown AIDS, or had been orphaned due to AIDS, Stockbridge said. Africa is known to have the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.

hopeandcare workers scattered through 53 African nations would use Brookstone Virtual Office to communicate with each other and with headquarters.

Brookstone Virtual Office is a modular application aimed at covering all aspects of knowledge management within an SMB with up to 500 users, from CRM to archiving and documenting, managing timesheets, processes and procedures, customer care or help desks and doing project management.

The .NET version complies with global quality assurance standard ISO 9000. It is licensed per user and ties in with unified messaging and standard Microsoft applications such as SharePoint and Outlook.

The software has won a number of accolades from.NET developer and major partner Microsoft, including a prize for the best .NET packaged application of 2003 by a Microsoft partner.

Brookstone Technologies -- which has only 12 staff - also won the small business productivity solution partner of the year and the Australasian partner of the year titles at those awards.

In 2002, Virtual Office won the Asia-South Pacific prize in the .NET packaged application category.

'We are especially pleased that after winning all that world reaction that we had from the IT community that the user community is generally starting to see the worth of this product,' he said.

The deal could net Brookstone up to $39 million, depending on the take-up of the software, which was itself dependent on how much funding hopeandcare could drum up from the private sector for its Africa project, Stockbridge said.

The Virtual Office deployment would be remotely managed and supported by Brookstone from Perth, via NTT/Verio hosting in Delaware in the United States, Stockbridge said.

'We will need to take on additional staff here in Australia to do that,' he added.

Stockbridge said Brookstone had raised funds itself and via CeBIT subsidiary Hannover Fairs Australia to attend a CeBIT trade show in New York last year, where hopeandcare had approached the ISV at its stall.

'They had been having a look at other products but [VirtualOffice] had what they really wanted to do,' he said.

Stockbridge said Brookstone Technologies -- currently one of three finalists for a Hot Linux Solution award at this month's IBM partner conference in Las Vegas -- planned to release a Linux version of Virtual Office and one running on IBM's WebSphere this year.

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