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Intuit gets deeper into IT, revamps Quicken

The software maker adds a network management application. It also updates its Quicken personal-finance software.

Intuit expanded its push into IT management products on Wednesday and released new versions of its market-leading Quicken personal-finance products.

The financial software and services company introduced Network Monitor, a collection of tools for monitoring the performance of corporate networks at small to midsize businesses.

The application is Intuit's first attempt to expand on the technology management business it began two years ago with its acquisition of specialty software maker Blue Ocean Software. The resulting IT Solutions unit launched with the release of Track-It software, which aims to help managers track IT assets and run a help desk--tasks that fit with Intuit's overall emphasis on accounting and management tools.

Network Monitor is a more technical product, though, that promises to help IT managers prevent system crashes in small-business networks by monitoring server, network and application performance.

"It tells you if a router is down, if a server service is failing and if a CPU on a server is pegged," said David Weiss, vice president of Intuit's IT Solutions unit. "If your network is penetrated by a virus, it can help pinpoint the area of infection by looking at the network traffic."

While Intuit is mainly known for accounting and tax software, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company decided to broaden its horizons a few years ago with its "Right for My Business" strategy. The push, which focused on small and midsize businesses, has seen the accounting and tax specialist expand into areas such as hosted collaboration services and cash registers.

"It means going beyond the accounting space and basically providing solutions...for all aspects of running a business," Weiss said.

IT management is a great target for expansion, Weiss said, because most existing tools are expensive enterprise applications. As a consequence, network management for most small businesses means waiting for something to break and then fixing it.

"Being able to monitor networks is not a new concept," Weiss said. "Being able to monitor them at a price point feasible for small businesses--that's new."

Network Monitor is priced at $495 for the standard version and $995 for the professional edition.

Weiss said Intuit plans to continue expanding its IT line, with future products likely to include desktop administration tools. "This is a classic example of technology for an underserved market," he said.

Also on Wednesday, Intuit released new versions of Quicken, which has dominated the market for personal finance software for more than a decade. Changes in Quicken 2005 include an arsenal of new tools for online bill paying and features intended to simplify the process of logging and categorizing transactions.

Quicken 2005 is available in four versions, ranging in price from $30 to $90.