An Interview with Erin Curtis, Senior Director, Product Marketing, SnapLogic
Big Data and integration in the enterprise are major challenges for companies today. Some software vendors offer solutions for data integration and others offer solutions for application integration. SnapLogic offers a solution that supports both data and application integration. Erin Curtis discusses with us what SnapLogic has to offer today, what they had to do to get there, and what their plans are for the future.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself and your background.
I’ve worn pretty much every type of marketing hat that there is. My focus has generally been on software tools and companies here in Silicon Valley. More recently, however, I have gotten into Big Data – especially as it is rapidly becoming part of the mainstream.
There were two things in particular that attracted me to SnapLogic:
- They are embracing data and integration in a very practical way
- The company’s executives are very experienced entrepreneurs
Can you please start with an overview of SnapLogic’s platform, products, and services?
Essentially, what we do is provide the glue that makes it easy to integrate applications and data. What is unique about our platform is that it supports both application and data integration – most other solutions support either one of the other. We offer a single platform does both.
Our solution is offered as an iPaaS – Integration Platform as a Service. That means that it is hosted by us as a service in the cloud. The Snaplex, the scalable the data processing engine of the SnapLogic integration platform, can be hosted either in the cloud or on the client’s own servers.
There are two more key components to our solution. The first one is our ever-growing collection of “snaps.” Snaps are pre-built smart connectors that you connect together to create a pipeline or flow.
The other key component is the graphical designer used to create the integration pipelines. This has a powerful, but simple to use, drag-and-drop user interface and is available either in a browser or on a tablet. This offers self-service development for non-experts as well as for integration professionals, without requiring any coding.
How is this different from tools like If This, Then That or Zapier?
Oh – very different. Those are meant for simple tool-to-tool integration for individuals. They are not enterprise-level platforms, they don’t have the same sophisticated design tools, and they don’t offer both cloud and on-premises options.
Who is your target audience? How do you normally reach them?
We are very focused on the enterprise – that is where our tools provide the most value to the existing complex infrastructures
We reach the enterprise audience in several different ways:
- Participating, speaking, and sponsoring at industry events
- Producing and sharing webinars and white papers
- Engaging with influential industry analysts
- Other thought leadership activities
Can you please explain your pricing model?
We are based on a monthly subscription model. There is a base fee for the core platform and the core Snaps and then additional fees for premium Snaps and additional processing nodes. The monthly subscription fee starts at about $10,000 / month.
How many customers do you have today? How do they break down – percentage wise – among your different product and service offerings?
We currently have 400-500 large enterprise customers. Most of these companies are headquartered in the US. In the last few months we opened sales offices in the UK and Australia in order to better service those regions.
What is your sales/evaluation cycle like?
We often start with a facilitated Proof of Concept project, where we work with the customer to create an initial flow pipeline. This can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months and will typically result in 2-3 use cases.
If I were a customer, what would the implementation cycle look like? How long would it last?
Once a customer decides to go forward with SnapLogic, we offer facilitated onboarding with our customer success team to ensure a rapid and successful “kick off.” We also offer the possibility of contracting for professional services to help move things along – maybe one quarter of our customers opt for that.
Most of our customers tell us that the implementation cycle takes somewhere between several weeks to six months to accomplish their required integration flows. It really depends on the customer and their needs.
Let me briefly share with you the stories of two corporations. The first one is Adobe, who had three major business units and a centralized IT department with many data sources. They wanted to de-centralize the IT department so that they would be closer to the business units that they were supporting. What they decided to do was to create an integration portal based on SnapLogic. Today they have more than 400 people doing integration across the company.
The second story is of an international bank, whose name I cannot disclose. Due to regulatory requirements, they are required to retain data for a significant number of years. This includes not only their in-house data, but also a lot of third-party data. They were actually managing 240 different interfaces!
What they were looking for was:
- Affordable data storage to meet regulatory compliance requirements
- A full 360-degree view of their customers
Using the SnapLogic platform, they were able to retire many of the old systems and to eliminate much of their on-premises data storage. In addition, they have a still-ongoing project of developing a self-service analytics system for their analysts.
Who are your main competitors? How do you feel you are better or different from them?
A lot of our competitors, especially the better-known ones, are simply offering developer-centric integration, based on older and fragile technologies.
I feel that SnapLogic stands above our competition in four major ways:
- Single platform for both application and data integration
- Self-service approach
- Elastic architecture that scales easily
- Large library of Snaps for applications, data, transformations, and flow
About 8 months ago, SnapLogic received a round ‘E’ of funding, which is pretty unusual. The Wall Street Journal pointed this out in their article announcing the funding “SnapLogic Survives Its Re-do and Raises $37.5 Million” Can you talk about that a little bit?
Sure. We are a little different that most startups in that we made a very significant pivot and change in our strategy. We started out as an open source software company, with the plan being to monetize the software via professional services and customization.
At a certain point we recognized that cloud computing was rapidly becoming very significant for enterprises and that our existing architecture could not really meet those changing needs. So we spent two years totally re-architecting our product from scratch, in order to fully support the cloud and big data. This pivot required retooling our architecture, our software, and our messaging.
Another interesting thing about that round of funding is that your list of venture capital investors was joined by Microsoft as an investor. What is the significance of that?
Microsoft is a strategic partner of ours and we do place a lot of emphasis on Azure, which is very popular in the enterprise environment. Microsoft sees integration as a critical success factor for Azure,.
Microsoft recently announced its cloud application integration platform - called Microsoft Flow. How does that relate to what you are doing with Microsoft?
Microsoft Flow is more about connecting web services and really has nothing to do with big data or connecting disparate data and applications.
Last year, Microsoft announced its Cortana Intelligence Suite. What exactly is that? Do you integrate with that?
Microsoft’s Cortana is a suite of tools for analytics on Big Data. SnapLogic integrates with multiple tools within Cortana, including HDInsight.
How do you see the web application and web data integration markets evolving – in the next 1 - 5 years?
We will continue to see a shift to cloud computing, with organizations completely - or at least partially - moving their data and applications to the cloud.
We will also see continued growth of open source software. The rate of change in the open source Big Data field is blindingly fast! This makes it difficult for enterprises to keep up with the changes, which is why one of our big benefits to enterprise IT departments is that we can help “future proof” them. We keep pace with the rapid changes, so that they don’t have to.
What are your projections for SnapLogic’s future growth? What are some of your ”big plans” for the future – in addition to more integrations?
Our international expansion will continue - there is a lot of opportunity and work for us to continue growing globally. We need to continue to track new technologies and integration requirements and then to implement them for our customers. Finally, as you mentioned, our integration efforts are a constant, ongoing activity.
How many employees do you have today? What is the SnapLogic corporate culture and environment like?
We currently have over 200 employees in four countries. The bulk of these employees are located in our San Mateo, California headquarters. We have software developers both in the US and in India.
Our culture and environment are similar to that of most Silicon Valley startups – e.g. open space work areas and the required foosball table. Our CEO, Gaurav Dhillon, is very big on company culture and values, which he summarizes with:
How many hours a day do you normally work? What do you like to do when you are not working?
Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time every day in Silicon Valley traffic. Although there is actually a benefit to that – that is when I come up with some of my best ideas. I don’t really count hours – it is results that count.
When I am not working I like to enrich my brain in different ways. This includes visiting museums, going to the theater, etc. I also very much enjoy the food culture here and trying new restaurants.
If you were asked to give the graduation address to the class of 2016, what would be your message to them?
Diversify your interests!
If you are a technologist or business person, learn about and appreciate the arts and culture. Take some art classes. If you are in the humanities, take a class or pick up a book on HTML and Java programming.