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Update on the Web-based Clientless Remote Support Software Market

One of the main challenges IT faces in this increasingly virtual workplace is the issue of supporting remote workers without requiring a road trip to their home office or having them send their PCs back to IT central for repair. Enter remote support software, which allows, with user permission, a technical support person to virtually take control of the end user's computer to resolve technical problems. The goal is to resolve issues faster than traditional phone and email support, while cutting costs and eliminating users' downtime while they wait for their repaired machines and applications. The market for such applications is growing, according to the latest research from Frost & Sullivan analysts Krithi Rao and Vanessa Alvarez. With the economy forcing businesses to do more with less and a shortage of skilled IT workers at every employee location, Frost & Sullivan expects the remote support market to experience high growth. Other factors driving this market include increased globalization and the growth of remote and mobile workers as a percentage of the workforce.

The target market can be broadly divided into two use cases:

* Internal support--remote support used for supporting a business' own employees.

* External Support--remote support used by businesses for supporting customers.

External support forms the largest segment of users and in 2008 accounted for more than 60 percent of the total market revenues. Since they're web-based, these solutions allow IT consultants to accept smaller deals and cut costs via offsite maintenance and management. But the faster growing segment in this market is driven by businesses using the technology to support their internal employees.

IT support has traditionally been considered a cost center, making investments a low priority. Freely available remote access tools such as RDP and VNC have made it even harder for IT to fund enterprise-ready solutions. However, as remote employees and mobile users become the norm not the exception, free tools are proving insufficient to meet the needs of tech support. And since such tools are web-based, they enable support of large numbers of far-flung employees regardless of their connection to the network.

Remote support software isn't cheap: In 2008, solutions ranged from $600 to $1500 per operator license. But vendors are facing significant price pressures due to increased competition. In addition, web conferencing vendors that bundle remote support licenses along with other technologies such as web conferencing and training solutions are also driving down prices. Indeed, according to Frost & Sullivan research, close to 17 percent of the market for general purpose web conferencing tools is aimed at remote support.