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10/21/2005
04:15 PM
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Help's A Firewall Away

Flash back to December 2002. Barely in his 20s, self-taught network engineer and help-desk staffer Joel Bomgaars is frustrated because firewalls prevent him from accessing PCs of users needing help.

Bomgaars says he wanted to share remote-access technology.

Bomgaars says he wanted to share remote-access technology.
Flash back to December 2002. Barely in his 20s, self-taught network engineer and help-desk staffer Joel Bomgaars is frustrated because firewalls prevent him from accessing PCs of users needing help. At his cubical at systems integrator Business Communications Inc., he has an epiphany: Instead of accessing the user's computer, have the user request help by going to a Web site. That would clear the firewall hurdles, because firewalls only block incoming messages. The idea worked, and Bomgaars was able to connect with a user within 10 seconds.

Fast forward three years: Bomgaars, now 25, is CEO of upstart NetworkStreaming Inc., which is pulling in millions of dollars a year on an appliance based on the 2002 brainstorm.

VC WinnersInitially, Bomgaars thought his idea would merely help him and his colleagues. But soon he realized it could be a lucrative business and left his job, with the blessing of his employer, to start NetworkStreaming. "It was something that made me so much more effective that I couldn't help but share the technology," Bomgaars says.

Remote-access help systems aren't new; they've been around for years, but most of the products require client software. NetworkStreaming's doesn't, and that saves time and money, Bomgaars contends. The NS Support Appliance is more secure than hosted systems since the customer maintains control over the process. It's priced at $3,200 and includes one license.

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