October 03, 2005
DataSynapse Boss on Company's Success
In a recent interview with GRIDtoday editor Derrick Harris, DataSynapse
CEO Peter Lee discusses the company's path to success in the Grid
market -- a path that led to record revenues in the first half of the
year. Lee also gives an introduction to FabricServer, DataSynapse's new
product that brings Grid's benefits to transactional applications.
GRIDtoday: How is everything going with DataSynapse? From the
recent customer wins and financial statements, I'd say "pretty well,"
but it's always good to hear it from the horse's mouth.
PETER LEE: We're certainly excited. We've experienced tremendous
growth so far in the first half, and are expanding our footprint in the
market. It's an exciting time at DataSynapse: adding new clients and
new partners, opening offices in new geographies (Frankfurt and Milan)
and growing our team both domestically and internationally.
Gt: What is it about DataSynapse that makes it such a successful company?
LEE: DataSynapse differentiates from other companies in terms of
its strategy, its products and its people. Strategically, the company
initially focused on global financial services clients -- and now that
there are three dozen customers, we're expanding rapidly into other
market sectors, building from a dominant leadership position from
within our initial install base. DataSynapse focused its product
development efforts on delivering enterprise-class, real- time
infrastructure software that could easily interoperate with existing IT
architectures vs. point solutions targeted for a specific market sector
that would be challenging to integrate. We have been fortunate to
recruit and retain the very best people in the business!
Gt: The company has a lot of financial services customers. Is
that by design, or have financial services companies just been more
receptive to the idea of Grid computing?
LEE: Arguably, it's a bit of both. As I said, we initially
focused on financial services by design, based on our domain expertise
and also based on the fact that, as an industry, there was very
specific and pressing pain that Grid computing could address. Financial
services companies are also in an intensively competitive marketplace
environment, and thus tend to be early adopters of cutting-edge
Gt: Are you working with organizations in any other vertical markets? If so, who and how?
LEE: We're expanding our footprint into other verticals. Most
recently, we've added another utility company as well as a global media
company to our client roster. Right now, we count major companies in
financial services, utilities, government, telco and media as customers.
Gt: Financial services aside, which vertical markets do you see as leaders in Grid adoption?
LEE: Financial services dominates, but we are seeing strong
interest across many general market sectors including telco, energy and
Gt: Do you have different sales pitches for different markets?
What are differences, for example, in pitching Grid to an automotive
user vs. a pharma user vs. a financial services user?
LEE: The customer will always define the specific business value
derived from using a technology to solve a particular problem. It is
important to emphasize the key benefits of Grid adoption, which are
common to all sectors and are irrefutably valuable: higher service
levels at radically lower costs. Business agility from a responsive IT
infrastructure always adds value, and the quantification can be worked
out by the client using metrics they are most comfortable with.
Gt: From your perspective, what does the enterprise Grid market
look like, overall? Are vendors doing a good job in selling Grid to
users, or do we have a long way to go in educating users on the
benefits of Grid technology?
LEE: The market is becoming significantly more aware of the
production-proven benefits of Grid technology. I won't comment for
other vendors, but we believe our client adoption speaks for itself.
Gt: What kind of timeframe do you see for widespread enterprise Grid adoption?
LEE: Within three years. Broad-based adoption is happening now
in finance, and other sectors are spinning up rapidly. As Grid adoption
becomes more widespread, more and more companies will look to use Grid
to solve their business problems.
Now, at GridWorld, we're launching our next-generation product,
FabricServer, which brings the power of Grid computing to transactional
applications. With FabricServer, we wanted to provide the marketplace
with an easy to use, out of the box solution for Grid-enabling
application server-based environments including BEA, JBoss and Oracle.
FabricServer makes it possible to quickly scale and share these
Web-based, service-oriented applications with greater control and less
Gt: How long have you been involved with Grid computing? What
have been some of the biggest changes you have seen within the industry
in that time?
LEE: We founded DataSynapse in early 2000. The biggest change is
that it used to feel like it was us evangelizing the benefits; today,
the largest vendors in the world have pivoted their strategies around
the promise of this technology. For example: IBM: On Demand Computing;
HP: The Adaptive Enterprise; Sun: N1/Grid; Oracle: 10G (Grid); EMC:
Virtual Computing; Veritas: Utility Computing; and more. The recent
MegaGrid project, for example, includes Intel, Dell, Oracle, EMC and
Cisco. The Grid is becoming integrated across the enterprise.
Another big shift is that we're spending less time explaining what Grid
is, and spending more time helping customers understand how this
technology impacts their broader IT objectives of moving toward
Gt: Do you find that DataSynapse has to do a lot of convincing
potential adopters that Grid computing is not just a tool for
researchers or those looking to utilize it in an HPC capacity?
LEE: We haven't found that we've had to do a lot of convincing,
just educating. Once potential adopters fully understand the tremendous
benefits that Grid computing brings to a company, the decision is an
easy one. We're talking about speeding up application development
times, accelerating product time to market, decreasing TCO and
expanding existing capabilities-in short, Grid computing is making
companies money. We've had customers who credit their Grid
implementations for generating new business opportunities and driving
revenue. One client attributes $50 million in new revenue creation in
the first year of production. Distributed computing has its roots in
research, but what we're offering for today's business applications is
light years away from that.
Gt: Finally, what do you think it will take for Grid computing
to become as pervasive as vendors and industry organizations would like
it to be?
LEE: First of all, many of our customers who deal with
infrastructure immediately understand the benefits of Grid computing.
However, often the substantial business benefits of such an
implementation aren't conveyed as well to decision makers across the
company. Often, the natural reaction to upgrading IT systems is to push
back because it's so often associated with higher IT spend and
increasing operating costs. This reaction is understandable and
expected; historically -- and even currently -- many organizations that
use siloed architectures have to spend money in order to increase
compute capacity, and they rarely see more than just marginal gains in
value as a result.
Proponents need to more effectively communicate that Grid computing is
really a paradigm shift for the network that drives business results.
This is a disruptive technology that has the potential for dramatically
increasing a company's capabilities, without increasing costs. Once
this is effectively communicated and understood, Grid computing will
become a pervasive technology, and those early adopters will have a leg
up on the competition. At some point, it may become more difficult to
avoid Grid, as ecosystems are already increasingly converging,
involving infrastructure software, applications, and IT physical
Gt: Is there anything else you would like to add, perhaps a little more on FabricServer?
LEE: It's an exciting time at DataSynapse. On the heels of a
record first half year in revenues, as I mentioned earlier, we're very
excited about the upcoming release of FabricServer. It opens up a whole
new world of applications that can now leverage the benefits of Grid:
increased agility and responsiveness, lower costs, improved service
levels and so forth.
FabricServer is designed specifically for transactional applications
whereas GridServer has been optimized for compute- and data-intensive
applications. Both bring incredible value to the enterprise, depending
on the business needs.
FabricServer is also a lightweight technology, which means companies
can deploy it rapidly and easily scale Web and service-oriented
applications. At the same time, it still has all the great
benefits you would expect from our products: policy-based service
provisioning, simple and predictable scaling and out-of-the-box
integration that delivers significant economies of scale. We believe
this will usher in the next generation of Grid computing, as more and
more companies transition to an integrated service-oriented
architecture model and rely on the Grid for superior performance of