Partners Important to XM

By Brian Fonseca  |  Posted 2005-08-01 Print this article Print

Satellite"> XM has relied on key partners to put its technology and growth vision into action. "When you look at the fact we needed to start small and scale by going up lines of processes, from departmental to enterprise-class binary compatibility, [partnerships] become important because of that reduced integration and upgrade costs," Patry said.

Topping XMs list of partners is Sun Microsystems Inc., which has worked with the company since 2001. Patry calls the Santa Clara, Calif., company the backbone of the satellite radio providers data center. Sun Account Executive Ann Lamp said Sun became attractive to XM in terms of building a data center from scratch due to Suns large base of ISV development partners and its ability to grow and scale in tandem.

"[XM] wanted that certification and compatibility matrix already built in because they were green-field building their company and didnt want to worry about integration issues," said Lamp. "No matter what they add as feature and function to their application, either from an OEM perspective or from car dealers, having that binary compatibility from our processors will give them that infrastructure flexibility to allow [XM] to grow along that path. Thats one less thing for them to worry about."

When Lamp began working with XM four years ago, the satellite radio provider started with Solaris 7.0. Currently, XM is looking at moving to Solaris 10. In addition to regular support meetings, Sun conducts quarterly reviews with XMs chief financial officer, Joseph Euteneuer, and Patrys team to stay in line with XMs technology preparation.

"I dont think it matters—the size of the company. The more you know about who you deal with, the better off youre going to be," said Lamp. "You dont wait until the 10th hour, and there will be no slippage. There are no real big surprises that will take anybody to task, and thats the way its always been since Ive been down there [at XM]."

XMs data center also uses Windows software, Cisco Systems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co. hardware, an Oracle Corp. database, and a Sun and Hitachi Data Systems Corp. SAN (storage area network) backing up and managing data growth on its back end.

Suns storage products have played a pivotal role in allowing XM to move applications in its data center to larger databases and platforms to keep pace with company growth without disruption.

A second data center building block comprises Siebel Systems Inc.s eBusiness CRM (customer relationship management) software, Portal Software Inc.s Infranet billing application, and Lawson Software Inc.s financial support applications running on Sun hardware and built through a partnership with Siebel.

"[Siebel] had a large portfolio of capabilities wed be adding to our business, including channel partners, sales force automation and the ability to do custom insight analytics that were all integrated into the platform. So we could incrementally add capabilities as the business expanded," Patry said.

Middleware integration among the CRM platform, billing platform, conditional access and the network interface is provided by Vitria Technology Inc.s BusinessWare platform.

The technology relationships go both ways. XM has woven such strong ties with its primary vendors, such as Sun and Oracle, that they have let the satellite provider understand and navigate their respective technology strategies.

"Their technology road map was critical for us to understand [our future] capability and how to deploy their equipment at what time and at what configuration," Patry said. "Were always looking a year or two ahead with vendors and understanding how we can scale. What will Solaris look like in a year or two? How can we leverage that?"

Next Page: Accenture assists in heavy lifting.

Brian Fonseca is a senior writer at eWEEK who covers database, data management and storage management software, as well as storage hardware. He works out of eWEEK's Woburn, Mass., office. Prior to joining eWEEK, Brian spent four years at InfoWorld as the publication's security reporter. He also covered services, and systems management. Before becoming an IT journalist, Brian worked as a beat reporter for The Herald News in Fall River, Mass., and cut his teeth in the news business as a sports and news producer for Channel 12-WPRI/Fox 64-WNAC in Providence, RI. Brian holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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