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By eweek  |  Posted 2005-06-13 Print this article Print

Other BI vendors talk about customers wanting to standardize on their product set. Are you seeing that as a trend among your customer base? Yes and no. Its spoken about more than it happens. Its whats called motherhood. Hey, if we could have less vendors, wouldnt it be better for us. Every vendors been saying that for the last 40 years.
Thats motherhood?
Its motherhood. Who would say Im not for motherhood? Of course you want to have less vendors its better for you. Now people are waking up and saying, "We have too many BI vendors, we really have to knock them down." Will they get one? Its unlikely. Its much more likely theyll end up with maybe two or three. Because they do different things. If truly you have 10 vendors doing BI types of things, then you really are wasting a lot of money. But if you can cut it back to a few, thats a value. And we do see RFPs coming out, people looking for enterprise standards, and we have won quite a number of them, very large-scale companies. But they have their difficulties, I will tell you that. We loved winning them. But unless the company is prepared to really implement the standard, it doesnt work well. What happens is, unless they put in like a competency center, you go in, you do an app to help you do something. Usually in these enterprise deals everybody in the company gets the software free or cheap. What happens is somebody says, "Oh, I think I use that product," takes it, downloads the product, puts up an app or tries to put up an app, it doesnt work, we dont even know about it and the company doesnt have the resources, doesnt have a central place to help them because they didnt build the competency center. I like the idea of enterprise software and I like it better when the company is prepared to support it. Otherwise its very difficult for us Ive discovered. Have you noticed that your user counts have gone up? Are you selling more seats? No, were not a seat seller. Were not like Business Objects. Oh, we have X thousand seats. They basically sell an OLAP thing where you have to know the user. Were selling a server type of thing where it says, I dont care if youre 100,000 users or 10,000 users, you can have unlimited users. I dont have to sell it on a named user basis. So we never talk named users. Although we do sell named users because we have a set of additional services you can buy. If you want to buy those services, just buy the servers. So well sell it on the power of the machine, well sell it on users, current users, subscription, whatever you want. Are you participating in any open-source initiatives like the whole Eclipse initiative around reporting? Yes, by the end of this year, iWay will be totally Eclipse-compatible. We think thats a very valuable thing. We have our own GUIs now, and were changing them all to be Eclipse plug-ins. We think thats a fabulous idea. We love Eclipse. So that were going to do. You said open source, we have a big initiative around Linux. WebFocus on Linux is one of our fastest-growing products. We have a fabulous Linux version. So thats going very well. A lot of our competitors came out of the Microsoft desktop world. And theyre fine on the desktop, and so are we. But they have very poor Linux and Unix skills. So theyre just starting to get into Linux. Weve been in it for years. Weve already perfected writing stuff. We even run Linux on the IBM mainframe. To be an enterprise vendor, we have to say to our customer, "Well run on any machine you have. Whatever youre into, well run eventually." Theres been a lot of issues around patent infringement in the BI space. What do you think of the lawsuits that have been traded back and forth among many of your competitors? About a dozen years ago, I was at a national conference and one of the topics was the future problems with software patents, which nobody could have given a rats ass about, as they say, in those days. It was so obvious that computer patents are going to be the biggest problem in the industry we could possibly have. Theres a law thats in Congress now and theyre changing patents on software. Theyre not removing them, theyre capping the penalties. Part of the problems you have, patents take 18 months before it becomes a patent. So you dont even know its patented when you do it, youre doing it on your own and all of a sudden you just go, "Oh, somebody got to it first, they patented it." What are you going to do? The second part of the problem is theres law firms that sprung up whose only business is getting a lot of peoples patents and finding out who violated them. Theyre blood-sucking law firms. Thats all they do is look for patent violators. And weve had one of those guys come along and try to nab us, and I can see how tough they are. I think its a scourge on the industry. With regulatory pressure from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and companies being acquired, are you glad youve kept Information Builders private? I think the private companies are having a ball, SAS and us and a few new ones. The public companies are really under the gun. Theyve got to make earnings. Some analyst who doesnt know anything says, "I think theyll earn 25 cents a share." If they earn 24, their stock takes a dive. Thats dopey. I think its very unhealthy for the software industry to be so shackled to the public markets. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest database news, reviews and analysis.


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