By Sramana Mitra and guest author Siddharth Garg
Sramana Mitra: Let’s get back to what you do. So, if I understood correctly, one of your big value prepositions to the ERP world is compliance and having a good handle on all the different tax laws in various countries. You push all the updates and changes to those laws and so forth to your customers. You are able to push those changes and updates more easily because of your cloud-based deployment model.
That is one part, and the second is what you said about collaboration between accountants and businesses. Now, where does Amazon S3 come in? Why does Amazon S3 need to be in the middle of this? Are you not providing a software server service that is kind of a multi-user [server]?
Klaus-Michael Vogelberg: OK, what I am trying to say is that cloud computing made a commodity of lot of the building blocks you need in order to facilitate those scenarios.
SM: Are you built up in Amazon S3? Is that what you are saying?
KMV: Yes, it is one of the technologies we use. We have a very broad portfolio, but it is one example of where cloud computing obviously delivers in the context of PaaS [Platform as a Service] commoditized computing services, of which storage is one.
SM: Sure, absolutely. This is a good segway into the conversation about your technology stack. What have you built your SME offering on? This is a highly multi-tenant cloud deployment, right?
KMV: Do you have a sort of specific product in mind?
SM: I am thinking about your entire product portfolio, but if you have different strategies for different products, you are welcome to talk about this.
KMV: Again, I just want to note the different regions in which we operate. In most of them, we would have a market-leading small business accounting application and, often, various products in the mid-market for horizontal solutions, as well as specialized vertical solutions. So, if we talk about the small business accounting side, these products have similar characteristics. They nonetheless are distinct products, and each is geared toward the requirements of the Spanish market or the French market or the UK market or the U.S. market or the Canadian market.
SM: My question was more along the lines of, What is the technology? You have moved from older architectures to cloud architectures in recent years, right?
KMV: Yes, We have. We do three things. First, we add cloud technologies to support our existing customers with their existing on-premise applications. That is an important aspect. The second aspect is additional Web-based services that link into those products, and the third is Net-native online business solutions.
SM: Let’s take them one at a time. What has been the technology strategy employed to offer cloud computing services to customers of on-premise applications?
KMV: Again, you have to understand where I am sitting. I basically overlook a large, diverse SME community and an equally diverse Sage group of businesses delivering these solutions. Because of the nature of this position, what we don’t do first is that we don’t say that we all should use, in order to deliver these capabilities to our customers, technology XYZ.
So, what we do first is applying [standards]; looking at the interoperability standards by which we do that. We have taken the Web as an example because the Web is not defined by a single technology. It isn’t all PHP or all Ruby on Rails or all Java. You have quite diverse technology on the Web, but all of that is held together by a couple of key standards – obviously HTML, HTTP, XML and then various applications of these. That is exactly the way we have approached things. One of the key pieces has been to define essentially naming conventions for interoperability based on industry standards, specifically REST [representational state transfer] and Atom. That being the first step, we call that kind of naming convention SData and, in fact, you can go to our website, which explains what these naming conventions are. They define the interaction between any system and the Sage system.