IntroductionThis month’s TPU interview is with Tamas "Fiery" Miklos. Tamas is the co-founder and co-owner of Lavalys, which is the company responsible for the hardware monitoring software ‘Everest’. He and his team have been very busy updating Everest to cover the latest CPU architectures, so I thank him for his time.
First Computer ExperienceTamas began working with computers at a young age. When he was 10 years old he started learning BASIC. Two years later he moved onto Assembly and by the age of 15 he was working with Turbo Pascal. Tamas says that while others were playing games he was busy discovering computer programming. “I clearly remember a book about BASIC language where they showed very nice graphs (example) and I was fascinated with having the ability, using a computer, to draw such things automatically.” After attaining his high school degree in software development and accounting he decided to attend Veszprem University in Hungary to learn Computer Science. However, it didn’t go as planned. “Quite frankly, I wasn’t as good at math, electronics, physics, etc. at the university level as my parents and high school teachers initially assumed. I had no problem with software development though.”
While Tamas was in school, he managed to land a job with an Australian IT company where he developed software for DOS. His work was done remotely from his home and he found his interest in school declining. “I found that job much more interesting and a lot less complicated than most things going on at university, especially math analysis and electronics.” So after completing approximately 3 semesters out of 10, Tamas simply stopped going to class.
AIDA and the way to EverestBy the year 2002, Tamas had spent six years developing diagnostic and benchmarking software. Work began in 1996 with the text based program ASMDemo for DOS which had CPU, FPU, cache, memory and video benchmarks. Over the years, ASMDemo evolved into AIDA 16 and finally the very popular AIDA32 program which was completely rewritten for Windows. Tamas recalls the lengthy process. “The progress was slow, but the brand new Windows code enabled me to add a lot more features. AIDA32 was the first tool also that introduced corporate features like automated CSV and XML reports creation via command-line, SQL database output and basic networks audit facilities.”
Up until this point, AIDA32 was freely available to individuals and businesses. The program had become extremely popular as professionals and companies were using it to provide IT services and then charging big money for those services. So it only made sense that Tamas would be contacted by a Canadian man named Roger via E-Mail about turning the free program AIDA32 into a money maker. After a number of long nights chatting on MSN and ICQ the two met in Budapest. The plan was to develop AIDA32 into a program people would be willing to pay for.
That program is now known as Everest, which became available when Lavalys went online in November 2003. Tamas says the industry’s response was disappointing. “The whole year of 2004 was spent by a constant struggle of survival in the business because our sales numbers were rather disappointing. It’s not easy to convince companies to spend thousands of dollars on a network management software that doesn’t come from Microsoft, HP, Symantec, etc.” So in 2005, with sales numbers still lagging, the group decided to ask companies and resellers why. “Several of them claimed the professional version simply was not worth the money, and they were fine with the free version”, Tamas remembers. So two years after they began their operation, they discontinued the freeware version of Everest and finally saw their sale numbers steadily increase.
Currently, business is going well for Lavalys. The company operates in two countries, with a management and sales team in Laval, Canada, where Roger lives, and a software development team in Budapest, Hungary where Tamas lives. Because they receive over 150 new hardware reports every day through their system, a lot of their time is spent updating and testing Everest to cover that new hardware. Tamas stays in touch with other developers who create similar software and he keeps in contact with manufacturers and dealers. “The biggest headache for us at this time is still Windows Vista. At each new version of Everest we release it gets better handling of the revamped security system of Vista, but some of our users still have issues with it so we have to keep working on it. And the biggest challenge is introducing a brand new network management suite to replace Everest Corporate Edition. But it’s still a mid-term plan, so we don’t expect to roll that out in 2008.”
At the end of a long week, a week where Tamas typically works 50-60 hours, the job is still not done. One particular evening I receive an email response from Tamas and it is almost 3:00 AM his time. He says he prefers to start his day later than usual because there is less to disturb him and the weather is cooler. It is evident that he really enjoys what he does and although it is frustrating at times he believes he will never get tired of it.