Dell looks inward to integrate its properties post-EMC merger

In startup parlance they call it dogfooding. Whatever term they use, it's a nice internal win for Boomi.

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When Dell acquired the integration vendor Boomi a few years ago, no one knew exactly what its intentions were. That lack of clarity only increased with news of the Dell-EMC merger and increasing divesting of non-core assets. So it's a safe bet that there are some happy people within Boomi (now more correctly called Dell Boomi) with news that their product was critical to a very thorny problem for Dell.

Both Dell and EMC were, before the merger, customers of Salesforce's cloud CRM product. While cloud vendors spin a good story about product integrations being a piece of cake, the reality is that integrating two different businesses, and the data and business process they use, is a massive task. That is the case even when those two vendors use ostensibly the same platform.

This was a transition problem that was identified early on in the piece -- when the Dell-EMC transaction was announced, salesforce readiness and revenue forecasting were identified as critical considerations for a seamless transition on day one and beyond. Due to this need, bridging the gap between the dual Salesforce systems became a priority to avoid the error-prone inefficiencies of sales reps, account managers and finance professionals manually reconciling and reporting on data from disconnected systems. So Dell looked internally and turned to the Dell Boomi iPaaS platform to integrate the Dell and EMC Salesforce instances.

While it could have been expected that the companies would use disparate systems for a while, the reality is that this deal was held up as delivering real synergies -- many of which relate to cross-selling of products from the two different vendors, clear combined revenue forecasting, sales pipeline management and supply chain planning.

In terms of how the project was run, Dell's internal IT team collaborated with end users from both Dell and EMC as well as EMC's IT department, and spent a couple of weeks reconciling the different business rules and processes at the two companies. On the date of the finalization of the merger, the integration was launched to create bidirectional data interchange between the two entities.

Thus no migration was needed, simply a process reconciliation and ongoing data integration project. The result was 40,000 sales employees across the two divisions having visibility across the businesses.

Maybe it is unrelated to the success of this particular project, but indications seem to be that there will be an ongoing place for Boomi within the new Dell Technologies organization. Indeed, public messaging by Dell execs suggests this strongly.

Chris McNabb, CEO of Dell Boomi, said that he "anticipated that Dell Boomi would play a key role across the newly combined Dell Technologies landscape, offering a broad range of proven and flexible solutions for data and application integration, master data management (MDM) and API management."

This isn't the first time that Dell has "eaten its own dog food." The company has utilized Boomi for about a half-dozen previous internal integration projects, including connecting Microsoft Azure Active Directory to a third-party fulfillment system to automate licensing order processes. EMC was a Boomi user itself, relying on Boomi for integration between Salesforce and an Aprimo marketing tool.

Of course, a vendor is always going to wax poetic about its own solution. But at the same time, it's easy to talk vapor about a solution that has a pretty fictitious use case.

This situation, however, was one of hard plumbing and difficult process reconciliation. I’m sure there is a bit of manual labor going on behind the scenes to make these two vendors -- massive by themselves and even bigger together -- work. But notwithstanding that, this is a good story for Boomi and its future.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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