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Enterasys CIO Dan Petlon brings a decidely no-nonsense approach to IT leadership and over the past few years has skinned about $2.6 million in costs out of the IT budget while also insisting that user experiences meet a very high standard.
"My goal is if I go around to everyone in the company and ask them how good IT is, they've gotta say 'IT rocks!' or at a bare minimum, 'IT is pretty darn good.' Because if the business sees you as a productive partner, then you're spending your time together talking about ideas and growth rather than always wrestling over budgets. But if I'm a pain in the neck and always causing problems, then yeah, they will spend all their time wrestling you for the funding."
So Petlon and director of IT applications Ben Doyle have spent the past couple of years overhauling Enterasys's infrastructure with some aggressive cloud projects, upgraded and virtualized data centers, and seamless comunication across all systems regardless of platform.
During its journey into the cloud, a key partner for Enterasys has been GoodData, which specializes in helping clients get through the messy integration issues that come with tying SaaS and cloud deployments into traditional legacy systems. It's no stretch to say that Petlon and Doyle are big fans of GoodData, and here's their story in their own words:
"BI is one of those tough things because you can have huge investments with Cognos or Business Objects but it all ends up being shelfware requiring three people to maintain it even as it sits on the shelf," Petlon said. "You wind up in a situation where our businesspeople think they're too complicated to do what they want, so they don't ask anymore, and they don't use the tool anymore, and you end up having three or four specialists making reports that nobody even looks at.
"So we were looking for easy-to-use BI tool, knowing the GM for our division is very good with spreadsheets—he really likes to get in there and slice and dice the numbers—but also knowing that the tool needs to be simple enough for our sales guys to use easily and quickly."
Enterasys has been using Salesforce.com since 2003 but felt its dashboard and presentation features weren't up to speed, so Enterasys first went with a company called Lucidera to handle those functions. But Lucidera went out of business, leading to a bake-off won by GoodData.
"We selected GoodData because we wanted to leverge what we'd learned across other parts of the enterprise," Doyle said. "So now we're aggressively deploying GoodData across not just Salesforce.com but also all of our SAP applications—we'll be using GoodData as the presentation layer or front end because it's got a nice UI, and it's very accessible for users to build dashbrds and do ad-hoc analysis."
"Long-term, our sales analytics will end up native in Salesforce, but it could take them a couple of years to catch up—GoodData right now is probably two years ahead of them. And we believe strongly that Salesforce will catch up but that's okay for GoodData because they have such a great business model that we can use it to do so much more than just CRM.
"For example, we have some very real needs with our supply chain, which neeeds better reporting, and also some stuff around service and support side of the business, and some product management work that's not quite yet into the supply chain system.
"All of that's gonna be GoodData on the front end. And we're likely to extend what they do even beyond that: if I put on my QA hat, we're moving test-case repository and test-case managementmt to Force.com, and so we'll probably use Good Data for that as well," Petlon said.
Doyle said that Microsoft is also a key applications player at Enterasys with Excel and SQL Server and Sharepoint and more, but "with all of that you end up with lots of moving parts. GoodData takes away a lot of the complexity from that—they make the vast majority of user-side complexity go away.
"On top of that, GoodData is at a market-disruptive price point, so that really makes it easy for us to deploy it broadly because we don't have to deal with a huge up-front price point and all the meetings that come with that. Instead, extending GoodData to other parts of the enterprise becomes a non-issue."
On top of that, Petlon said, "GoodData is easy to work with, and we like to find vendors who want to help us with our business. They're one of our four key pieces (along with SAP, Salesforce.com, and Dell), and we're working right with Roman and Mike [CEO Roman Stanek and COO Mike DeVries]."
Imagine that: a software company with tools that can be extended across the enterprise, with a front end that hides complexity without sacrificing performance, with top executives who are accessible and eager, and with a "market-disruptive price point" that helps you avoid more internal meetings.
I think the folks at GoodData are on to something.
Bob Evans is senior VP and director of
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