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Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Interview with Jason Blessing, CEO of Plex Systems (Part 3)

Posted on Wednesday, May 29th 2013

Sramana Mitra: You seem to be hinting that the SAPs and Oracles are not as much on the cloud. The first statement you made is that they are on-premise solutions. The second thing you said is that they are coming at it from the financial point of view, whereas your software comes at it from the manufacturing execution system point of view. Did I get that correct?

Jason Blessing: Yes. Let me provide a bit more color on those two points, because they are very important ones. Plex was initially architected for the cloud. There are a lot of companies in the space right now that are saying they are in the cloud, but ultimately what most of these companies are doing is running hosted software across a variety of products they had acquired – people are on different releases. That eventually is going to crumble under its own weight. In our case, is it pure cloud and everybody is on the same release.

SM: So your company started in the late 1990s/early 2000 with a cloud architecture already?

JB: Yes. The engineers had all come from a mainframe background and when they were evaluating cloud versus client server, which was the popular architecture at the time, they gravitated toward cloud because it looked more like mainframe – a centralized system.

SM: You wouldn’t expect a group of engineers in Michigan to come up with a cloud architecture in 1999.

JB: It was a visionary and fortuitous approach at the time, and it set us on the right course.

SM: It sounds like you have a bunch of private equity/late stage venture capital money around you. Obviously, they are seeing this as a growth equity story. What kind of growth are you experiencing?

JB: Over the last three or four years it has been north of 30%. That was in a bootstrapped environment. I think now with additional investment and with the market being what it is right now around cloud, the increasing understanding, especially in the manufacturing sector, around the value of cloud, I see us sustaining and accelerating that growth rate.

SM: What percentage of your TAM is in North America versus China, for instance?

JB: Our primary focus today are North America–headquartered manufacturers. By definition, if you are selling to that group, those manufacturing concerns are also going to have operations in one or all of the following locations: Germany, Eastern Europe, Brazil, Mexico, China, and possibly elsewhere in Asia. So, our go-to-market team and strategy right now is focused on North America, but the solution works in all of the regions I just described. Some of the additional investment we are taking in will go to expanding our distribution capabilities outside of North America.

SM: What kind of talent do you think you are working with?

JB: That is a great question. Most of the analysts tend to agree that the ERP market as a whole is around $40 billion globally. Roughly half of that is the services economy and the other half is manufacturing. Even taking a conservative range, it is a safe argument to say the TAM is somewhere between $10 billion and $20 billion globally.

This segment is part 3 in the series : Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing: Interview with Jason Blessing, CEO of Plex Systems
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