Q&A: SnapLogic tackles app integration in cloud era

CEO Gaurav Dhillon talks about challenges of integrating legacy and SaaS apps, building the new fabric of IT

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Everyone has the challenges that you described but when does somebody really become a perfect customer? What is it that opens their eyes and gets them to talk to you about this capability?

What happens is companies are in pain because they can't really get the full value out of their new cloud investments without knitting them together or without creating the fabric of modern cloud. [That includes] all the legacy stuff that may be very peculiar to their business.

The point at which this becomes a must-have is when one or two big cloud applications are being brought in or when some of the Hadoop big data projects go from being science experiments to production and being seen as highly capable analytic systems alongside the legacy data warehouse systems that already exist. Those are the two places where we find our customers, whether they're pharmaceuticals or technology or media or manufacturing. They reach out and say: We're bringing in this cloud app. Or, we tried Hadoop, it works. We had a bit of a science experiment, now we're going to put together a new predictive analytics machine learning project and we need to have an industrial-grade solution. We're looking for technology that helps us do that.

How do you price the product?

It's priced per node. This is the beauty of the cloud. It's priced based on your consumption or throughput of information. If somebody has a small amount of data, they might buy one node. Actually it's a multiple of data and velocity. How much data do you have and how quickly do you want to move it?

Essentially it's a six-figure product. You're looking an average customer coming in at about $140 to 150,000-ish. Maybe an entry is about $1,000 to $150,000 and it goes from there depending on how many nodes you might buy, how big your footprint is.

Do you have plexes in Japan and plexes in Europe and plexes in the United States and so on? We don't limit people on how many users they can have. We have unlimited data, unlimited endpoints, no worries. But as people consume more, if they want to keep that same performance solution, if they want that to be really responsive, then they end up adding more nodes to keep up with the demand that they find from their businesspeople for the technology.

Just so I'm 100 percent clear, in this nomenclature a node equals what?

A node equals one SnapLogic execution engine.

I want to make sure our readers understand. The engine handles what set of functions? What are they getting with that node?

Think of it as an integration processor. You visually design the integration in the SnapLogic graphical designer in the cloud and then when you want to run it, it needs a place to run. It needs ideally two SnapLogic nodes because you want to set them up in a failsafe configuration to execute that integration you've specified.

Say you want to connect Salesforce to SAP. You can very quickly visually design that. You can snap things together on a canvas and when you want to run it, it needs a place to execute in the same way that a program needs a CPU to execute. So that integration, that visualscape or jigsaw thing that you're building on the SnapLogic designer, needs a minimum of one SnapLogic node to execute.

That is the integration point in your cloud for those two applications?

That is a plex. How big is the plex? It depends on how much throughput that customer has.

Someone may have small data but they want to move it really fast. Then they build up a cluster of SnapLogic nodes to be able to make that really performant and very -- pardon the pun -- very snappy. You can horizontally scale out your solution and you can start small. If you want to add a bunch more people in marketing I'm going to have to go out and buy two more nodes to keep this running really well. As people like it and they tell their friends, they buy more.

Does this also work across business partners? Are you seeing that kind of usage as well?

Correct. We're starting to see that. We just announced the SnapLogic Partner Connect program with some of the top systems integrators and ISVs in the world, some of whom are even investors in our company, like Microsoft.

Whom do you compete against?

It's a legacy product at the upper end of the enterprise. We're not a small-business product. Small businesses have smaller headaches. Large businesses have billion-dollar problems and they're willing to spend six figures to have those problems go away. Our competition in the enterprise, which for us is someone with several thousand employees or a billion dollars in revenue, is a legacy product. It could be a product from the independents, who have started to fade and been taken private or moved into more of a legacy situation like a Tibco and Informatica. Or it could be one of the enterprise superpowers like an Oracle or an IBM. That's more typically who we're up against than anyone else.

Let's say looking out over the course of the next year, what are the key milestones or the key things that you're working going forward?

In many ways the enterprise business is actually very simple. A long, long time ago when we were putting together my first business plan, a former CFO at Oracle helped me think about it this way. He said: If you have a six-figure product and you have six-figure employees, try to have more customers than employees and you'll be OK. Basically as we look at the year ahead, how are we going to make sure that we have the right product? How do we expand the product?

We will continue to add more capability. We just added in our spring release a capability to provide streaming through support for newer big data technologies, like [Apache] Spark, which is really starting to take off.

The truth is most business data is not as large as the data that someone like Facebook or Google or Netflix might have so they don't really need that petabyte scale. They need terabytes of scale and Spark does that really well. We added support for new kinds of data transportation mechanisms like Kafka.

You'll see us continue to enhance our platform to step up to the mission of being a good data transportation company for the enterprise. At the same time, you'll see us continue to expand our field operation to have teams all over the globe. I've been on a big travel mission this quarter. I was in Hong Kong. I spent a few days in Australia. We got our first customer in Australia. We set up a European office. We have a number of people in Europe now. We're starting with the United Kingdom and we'll continue to expand into continental Europe from there.

Is there anything that I didn't ask you that's critical to someone's understanding of the company?

The biggest challenge for us is that people don't know we exist. We're a hidden gem of a company. It's an industrial company that serves big industrial companies and like that really, really good car mechanic, you want to make sure that others know about it. People should give us a shot to bring the cloud application they're thinking about moving to new enterprise platforms, new data platforms. Give us a shot.

This story, "Q&A: SnapLogic tackles app integration in cloud era" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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