SOLIX: Product-driven Service Strategy
Date: Thursday , March 04, 2010
In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. The 80/20 Rule or the Pareto Principle means that in anything a few (20 percent) are vital and many (80 percent) are trivial. Angel investor and entrepreneur-at-heart Sai Gundavelli is founding his business on a parallel to the famed Pareto principle: that eighty percent of the data on an enterprise’s systems is active only twenty percent of the time. This observation prompted him to develop his first enterprise product: the ARCHIVEjinni, a seemingly magical wand that dispels the woes of expensive archiving of enterprise data. The tool is being successfully implemented; a good point in itself. But what is more impressive is Gundavelli’s climb up the value chain.
Solix, founded in 1995, saw a quick ramp-up in business as the consulting industry proliferated. Yet, the ever-watchful Gundavelli was not misled by the seemingly unending growth curve of the company. “As the enterprise applications market matured and consolidated, we needed differentiators to stay on the cutting edge,” says Gundavelli. He carved an engineering team out of his resource pool and pushed for research-based innovation—all focused on enterprise pain points that could be solved by Solix’s products or technologies. And when the boom was over, Gundavelli was ready with Solix’s new avatar.
“With ERP becoming business-as-usual in any industry, data was bound to grow, and it did,” says Gundavelli. “Today, three unique pain points play a big role in enterprise efficiency—archiving, upgrading and migrating data.” Meta Group estimates the market for database archiving software will grow from less than $1 billion today to $4 billion by the end of 2007. The Sarbanes-Oxley regulations have mandated that companies archive their databases for 14 years, an exercise that promises great pain and jeopardizing applications’ performance and stability, resulting in longer time for system backups, instance cloning, patch applications, disaster recovery and slower running of concurrent programs and online queries. EMC has acquired companies in the email and document management spaces to archive emails and content. The plan is to offer archiving services for unstructured data to its clients this year. Solix extends the archiving framework to include structured data in enterprise applications for Data Lifecycle Management.
With the big players sitting up and taking notice of this nascent field, Gundavelli feels that his pitch is quite timely. “In database archiving, the software needs to be able to find and migrate individual rows of data to another source rather than the file-level migrations most hierarchical storage management products use,” observes the Solix CEO, “Which is where we win.” ARCHIVEjinni—Gundavelli’s penchant for magical nomenclatures is evident here and in the other two Solix products—delivers a reliable application data management solution that eliminates the perils of rapid data accumulation. It relocates data that is no longer needed for routine transaction processing, from production instance to archive instance and then intelligently provides simultaneous real-time access to both. The result is a high performance and highly stable production environment. ARCHIVEjinni with its ARCHIVEjinni Interoperable Layer (AIL) and a rich underlying scalable architecture is a technically advanced solution for enterprise data management,” says Dinu Joshi, Vice President Engineering, Solix. Enterprise customers include big names such as Western Gas and Robertson Ceco.
Two other areas Gundavelli is focusing on are upgrades and migrations. Not surprisingly, Solix has built UPGRADEjinni (that bottled spirit again!) around Oracle’s numerous releases. AMR Research’s studies note that any ERP upgrade is done with great caution by enterprises. “ERP upgrades are a core strategic asset and a necessity to stay ahead of the curve. Labeled as big-ticket projects, ERP upgrades require a compelling business case, and adding functionality is the easiest way to build that case,” says Judy Bijesse, Research Director, AMR Labs. “Continual attention and investment is required to maximize the value of an ERP system and to ensure it keeps up with the ever-changing business environment.” Most enterprises have taken an incremental approach by upgrading only certain functional areas—an expensive proposition involving time consuming
Data Migration, which has been labeled the most difficult phase of any upgrade project.
UPGRADEjinni enables seamless data migration across multiple Oracle versions and automates the entire customizations upgrade process.
Prior to this, it simulates a test environment for data migration to test data integrity and validate conversion. UPGRADEjinni brings rich knowledge base of more than 20,000 entries that have chronological specification of the schema change in the Oracle Applications including latest point releases and family pack releases. It includes this knowledge base with functionality to parse the customizations to report precise source code changes required for their successful upgrade. The tool is particularly useful when customers require business re-engineering, changes in Chart Of Accounts and instance consolidation, which are humungous tasks without a tool. A slew of customers have signed on for the toolkit, including Cypress Semiconductor, Wind Corp, General Dynamics, Forbes Marshall, Eaton and others. “We chose Solix for UPGRADEjinni’s demonstrated capabilities to accelerate the upgrade and consolidation of our global Oracle Application instances” says Oliver Weber, Director Internal Audit and Business Systems, Cypress Semiconductor Corporation.
The third pain point Gundavelli is attacking is the ERP migration. In 2003 alone, two large ERP platforms merged. JD Edwards was bought over by PeopleSoft for a whopping $1.7b, while BAAN was sold to a venture capital group for a measly $135m. This has changed the ERP market itself considerably. Installed base of JD Edwards and Baan require rapid migration to the next ERP platform. Yankee Group reported that while the JD Edwards acquisition improved PeopleSoft’s market position, the beleaguered Pleasanton, CA-based company has only 18 months to migrate the acquisition to its own architecture. “Duct-tape migration is all too common,” observes Gundavelli. In response to this flux, Solix has engineered MIGRATEjinni, a toolkit for platform migration.
MIGRATEjinni offers rich functionality that provides for fast and secure data migration across applications with simplified, graphically represented data mapping and conversion capabilities. It’s system-independent framework enables clients to switch from existing ERP applications and business processes to other applications seamlessly. MIGRATEjinni provides application implementers an effective tool for migration of mission-critical back-end legacy/ERP applications data to front-end customer interfaces and business-to-business applications. When ADT and Sensormatic operations were merged with Tyco, Tyco selected MIGRATEjinni to consolidate their multi-ERP instances to a single ERP instance.
Gundavelli now leveraged his enterprise applications expertise in offering all these tools with a service back up, and has scored richly. The service component has strengthened business entry points, and his team has been able to upsell other products. “The problem is worldwide,” says the CEO. “Enquiries are coming in from APAC, EMEA and Australia.” His plans include strategic expansions of his sales and project management presence in many of these countries, and soup up the engineering with deeper technologies. As the installed base of IT grows worldwide archiving need is keeping pace, and the evolution could see storage companies offer customers archiving as an added feature. “Which is good for us,” says Gundavelli.
Solix is in the final stages of achieving the CMM Level 5 certification, which should help in its service offers. For now, the company is very profitable, expanding and delivering on all customer commitments. “With the current installed base of ERPs and growing customer base such as Readers Digest, Solectron Corp, Veritas, Krung Thai Bank, GE Plastics, Motorola our growth prospects are limitless. The concept of a total solution offering: intellectual property plus implementation is winning us good respect,” says Gundavelli.
That must surely be satisfying.