On January 17th 2008, I met Atul Saini, CEO and CTO of Fiorano Software to follow up with the briefing I had last year (August 2007). Accompanying Saini was Sandeep Rammanand, Fiorano's Director for Partner Relations and head of the UK operations. In the pleasant surroundings of the Kensington Forum, we talked about where Fiorano were going.
For those of you not familiar with Fiorano, here is short review of what they do. They were founded in 1995 and are a privately held company headquartered in Silicon Valley, Los Gatos, California, USA. In 1998, they became the first company to release a commercial Java product based on Sun Microsystems's Java Message Service. Fiorano SOA Platform is a middleware platform that allows heterogeneous software services to be deployed across an enterprise service grid. The service-grid architecture of Fiorano SOA Platform provides a Service-Oriented platform for Enterprise Application Integration (EAI), Business Process Management (BPM) and Automation and Business to Business (B2B) integration. Distributed services deployed across a grid of service containers can be assembled into composite applications to automate business processes. The suite includes a set of tools to visually design, configure, deploy, manage and optimize these business processes.
Fiorano are a horizontal player selling technology across numerous verticals, although the majority of the customers are in the finance and telco sectors. Fiorano see an opportunity for them in the SME manufacturing sector—particularly aerospace and automotive, industries in which the UK is still particularly strong! Like many organisations of their size, Fiorano have had to be better priced, technologically superior and with high service to compete against the "big boys" in the integrations space such as IBM, Tibco and BEA. When you look at Fiorano's customer list, you can see that they have been very successful doing this.
Tackling the SME market is different. Yes, price is important, but now you are dealing with a small IT department, or even none, with tight budgets and everything bought has to yield ROI within 3 to 6 months. It is a market where packages are rife and there are islands of information in each silo managed by the packages. And now these organisations have to become even more flexible and agile to respond to the changes in the business market, particularly by their bigger customers.
Integration technology at an affordable price is a Holy Grail in the SME market. To achieve the needs being placed on SMEs through the Extended Supply Chain philosophy of larger manufacturers, then integration is an absolute key. In Europe, the supply chain of many OEMS very quickly drops into SME space (for example fresh food, automotive, aerospace, Industrial machinery, pharmaceutical research). In the past (led by retailers) EDI has been seen as the way to send orders and receive ASN's and invoices. However EDI for SMEs is a far too expensive option and not easy to use either! A small number of ISV's (for example CoVast) have been offering EDI on XML solutions. However as the use of RFID to identify products for tracking and tracing (plus temperature control and other environmental factors) moves down the supply chain either through retailer mandates or, in the case of aerospace, government and the major OEMs (Boeing and Airbus), SME's will be required to supply RFID information to their customers. All this points the way for products that can support the SaaS model.
Fiorano are well placed to enter the market to prove the toolset to provide Integration for this SME market. I see that this would probably be best accomplished by Fiorano working in partnership with ISVs who supply product to the SME market and also to exploit their existing telco relationship, as many of these companies are looking to provide SaaS service over their networks. Ah! Isn't it good to see all those things you have talked about for the last 10 years starting to come together!