SapphireNow Day One – Getting Virtual Events Right, And More

I got some great messages today from people who enjoyed my tweets “from” SapphireNow in Orlando – although I wasn’t there. That’s a tribute – not to me; we’re only talking tweets, for goodness’ sake – to SAP for pulling off a two-continent, video-streaming, full-on collaborative event I was able to participate in meaningfully from my desk in California. There was substance, partner announcements, customer dialogue, and star keynoters. A good day, with the best ahead, if my pre-briefs are any indication; there’s more ahead. Read more of this post

Programmers: Pervasive’s Parallelization Provides Punch, Profit

After 27 years of steady growth, Austin, Texas-based Pervasive (PVSW) has become a $47M annual run rate software provider. Its portfolio includes a “zero admin, light footprint database” (the former BTrieve, now PervasiveSQL), data integration software (for SaaS and on premises applications), and data synchronization products for such apps as salesforce.com, Quickbooks and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In 2009, it began leveraging its DataRush processing engine as a product, providing a solution for companies that want to take advantage of multicore architectures to drive dramatically enhanced performance on much smaller footprints, for programming data services tasks such as aggregation, de-duplication, cleansing, integration, matching and sorting, as well as data mining and predictive analytics. Read more of this post

SAP Promises Acceleration on a “Clear Path” – Will it Be Enough?

The economic slowdown was not kind to SAP in 2009, and as it launched the annual Influencer Summit on December 8th, change was in the air. Messages were shifting. “Sustainability” got a big push, and there was a ringing commitment to substantial, dramatic product change to be delivered in 2010. Different faces were on display: there was no Leo Apotheker or Bill McDermott on the stage, although Board members Jim Hagemann Snabe and John Schwarz held down the fort with new Marketing EVP Jonathan Becher and CTO Vishal Sikka in key speaking slots. Like the dances I went to in high school, the event was mostly date-free, but direct questions elicited some specific, though uncommitted, statements about deliveries in 2010, especially from Marge Breya. Read more of this post

Xkoto’s Database Virtualization Expands Cloud Opportunities

Xkoto, the database virtualization pioneer, has generated substantial interest since its first deployments in 2006. Still privately held and in investment mode, Xkoto sees profitability on the horizon, but offers no target date, and appears in no hurry. Its progress has been steady: in early 2008, a B round of financing led by GrandBanks Capital allowed a step up to 50 employees as the company crossed the 50 customer mark. 2008 also saw Xkoto adding support for Microsoft SQL Server to its IBM DB2 base. Charlie Ungashick, VP of marketing for Xkoto, says that 2009 has been going well, and the third quarter was quite strong. And at the end of September 2009, Xkoto announced GRIDSCALE version 5.1, which adds new cluster management capabilities to its active-active configuration model, as well as Amazon EC2 availability. Read more of this post

Pentaho Goes “Open Core” With Lucidera OLAP Viewer

Open-source BI vendor Pentaho has purchased technology rights from failed BI SaaS vendor LucidEra, and plans to combine LucidEra’s Clearview, a reporting and analysis OLAP front end for non-technical users, with the Mondrian open source OLAP engine used by Pentaho Analysis,  in a new offering called Pentaho Analyzer Enterprise Edition, available both on-premise and on-demand. Clearview will not be available in the free community edition of Pentaho. Existing Pentaho Analysis Enterprise Edition and Pentaho BI Suite Enterprise Edition customers will not be charged additional fees. Clearview adds substantial value to the priced portion of Pentaho’s portfolio – another example of the “open core” business model. Open core is not without its detractors, and a brief flurry of chatter erupted about it in the blogosphere. Read more of this post

PivotLink, Boomi Join to Break Down Barriers From SaaS BI To Enterprise Apps

Most people have heard the term NIMBY – “not in my backyard” – associated with a new factory, rehab facility or Walmart coming to their neighborhood. “Keep them away from here – let them stay over there.” The same phenomenon often applies to organizations that have adopted their first SaaS application when it comes time to integrate the content with other apps, or a BI environment. The notion of mixing on-premise with off-premise can be very daunting, with technical, cultural and resource issues throwing up barriers to effective integration. PivotLink, a SaaS BI provider approaching its 100th customer logo with some marquee names already on board, and Boomi, with successful integrations of cloud and on-premise applications for 250 clients since January 2008,  have joined forces to tackle this problem.  Read more of this post

Workday and Vertica: Cracking the 100 Customer Mark

Workday announced today that it has passed the 100-customer mark, and the milestone struck me as another important rite of passage. Such milestones are especially important in emerging markets that have not yet achieved mainstream recognition. In Workday’s case, this arguably represents a substantial step forward in the enterprise-class SaaS-based application market. Following in the successful footsteps of salesforce.com, NetSuite and others, Workday is extending the new SaaS paradigm into human resources and financial applications, with marquee customers such as Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Valspar Corporation  helping them get to this new level of customer success.

Workday is doing this by focusing on delivery; it touts a 120-day average phase-one implementation timeframe. The economic leverage of SaaS solutions, which turn the old “implementation is a multiple of acquisition cost” model on its head, works to Workday’s advantage, but only if it can deliver. In its press release, Workday points to a 38-day implementation cycle for Stone River as an example of its nimble deployment model. While it’s unlikely that this happens often, it’s an impressive benchmark nonetheless.

The note reminded me of recent conversations with Vertica, a firm attempting to help drive a similar mainstream status for the emerging ADBMS market. My conversations with Dave Menninger and others at Vertica have given me a perspective not unlike that of AMR’s Jeffrey Freyermuth, who recently concluded that Workday was about to crack the barrier. With its own big name wins like JP Morgan Chase and Verizon, and a steady cadence of product releases, Vertica has been on a roll. As Q3 began, they were approaching 90 customers, and I’m aware of several wins in recent weeks, which leads me to believe that they are rapidly approaching a similar moment in their growth. And the hill Vertica must climb is steeper: they are a more traditionally licensed, high-cost enterprise software platform without some of the built-in advantages of Workday’s SaaS approach.

I’ve talked elsewhere about Vertica’s technical innovations; its 3.5 release added substantially to a growing list of features. But the true test of credibility for a company in an emerging space is its ability to deliver those features to customers, and keep them happy. Vertica has invested steadily and wisely to ramp up sales and marketing efforts. Marketing is a critical component, but punchy campaigns and flashy web sites mean nothing unless companies buy and keep investing in a technology. As it approaches the 100-customer mark, Vertica has proven that it is delivering what enterprises want – fast database technology that solves real-world business problems. Like Workday, it may be following some larger pioneers, but it’s carving out a leadership role for itself at a rapid pace. I’m watching with interest to see how well it holds its momentum in Q4 and beyond.

YouCalc Launches into Bubbling SaaS Analytics Space

The land rush into the SaaS analytics space continues; Danish startup Youcalc is seeing solid results from its December 2008 commercial launch. Its value proposition: create custom analytics applications on live data from SaaS systems. Rasmus Madsen and Henrik Kjaer co-founded Youcalc with the idea that a community-based approach to creating analytics applications and sharing them in the SaaS world would unleash creativity within well-defined communities like salesforce.com’s AppExchange, SugarCRM customers, and users of Google Analytics and Google Adwords. Joining Birst, Cloud9, GoodData, PivotLink and others, Youcalc has made good progress with a 30-day free trial and minimal traditional marketing. The idea is that users will treat the product as a platform, creating and sharing a “vast library of ready-to-use, yet customizable analytics apps.” Will this pared-down approach and community model help avoid the issues that led to the failure of Lucidera? We’ll see. Read more of this post

Informatica, Strong Through Tough Times, Looks Ahead

Not everyone in the software industry is suffering. Informatica Q2 revenues were $117.3 million, up 3% year over year, and license revenues for the second quarter were $48.7 million, relatively flat. That makes 19 quarters in a row – very impressive. Informatica added 65 customers in the quarter and now claims nearly 3800, with wins in multiple geographies.  Read more of this post

QlikView: Bet Big, Time Right And Become A Disruptive BI Leader

The near-decapitation (by acquisition) of the BI space in 2007-8 was perfectly timed for QlikTech, whose QlikView is rapidly becoming one of the leading independent products. This is hardly new; since its founding in Sweden in 1993, the company’s timing has been unerring. Years of slow growth – “From 1993 to ‘99 we had a grand total of 5 customers, all in Sweden,” Senior VP Anthony Deighton told me recently – ended abruptly with a funding round from a Swedish VC. That led to a revamped management team with an eye for growth, and in the next 6 years, QlikTech climbed to 1500 customers – still mostly in Sweden, though some were in Germany and a few were in the US. The next big bet was what Deighton calls “an over-investment in direct sales” based on a 2005 round of funding from some better known VCs. Since then, the takeoff has been remarkable – a happy timing of product, platform and market. With $120 million in revenue and 50% growth in 2008, Qlikview is reaping the benefits of effective timing, a conservative ramp that did not overreach, and a technology landscape that is paying off its visionary design. Now, wth QlikView release 9.0, it’s targeting enterprise scale, better performance and manageability, and mobile deployment. As the economy begins to recover and mobile platforms proliferate, it appears QlikTech’s timing is once again dead on. Read more of this post