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Change is Good, Kalido Makes it Easy

  • June 01 2004, 1:00am EDT

Kalido's flagship product for creating, deploying and operating data warehouses, KALIDO Dynamic Information Warehouse (DIW), began as an IT project within Royal Dutch/Shell Group (Shell) that was evolved gradually into a commercial software application. "Shell had a very specific problem," says Bob Potter, president and CEO of Kalido. "They had to collect region-specific data from operating units in more than 100 countries and needed to better understand profitability across products, channels and customers. Shell used Business Objects' business intelligence reporting tools, but they could not find a sufficiently powerful data warehouse application to address their needs for obtaining global views of performance from the multiple systems for BI reporting. They decided to build their own data warehouse solution."

"Their transactional systems included SAP; they're still one of the largest SAP users in the world," says Potter. "They had different instances of SAP throughout Europe, and they wanted to be able to aggregate that data into a data warehouse solution and then report business intelligence to executives." And while Shell's problem was very specific, the solution they developed to address the problem, KALIDO DIW, is applicable to any industry. The Kalido software supports the process of life cycle management of data warehouses and operates on a variety of platforms between ETL and BI tools while solving one of the three biggest problems in the software industry today - the explosion and management of data. "It started there, and it came from theoretical work that was done around general data modeling, data models that were not brittle - models that the company was able to update as fast as the business changed," reports Potter.

A prototype of the dynamic information warehouse was created in 1996 and a PowerBuilder application that ran on Oracle was deployed in a limited state. The product was completely rewritten in C++ three years later. "There was a wide-scale deployment through Shell Oil Products and the solution took off as an internal project," notes Potter.

"Originally, Bruce Ottmann, now part of Kalido, was Shell's modeling guru on this project. And Andy Hayler, Kalido founder and chief strategist, was the principal Shell executive who was involved in contracting for building the warehouse," says Potter. "They put together four or five of the very best consultants within Shell that had a lot of experience in data warehousing. They also hired a contractor by the name of Chris Angus, a brilliant engineer who later became Kalido's chief architect. He is really the 'brains' and the innovator behind the Kalido technology. Another important contractor to Shell was Cliff Longman, who is now the CTO of the company."

In the late 1990s, the company decided to offer their prebuilt, quick-to-deploy, adaptable data warehouse to other corporations in Europe. KALIDO DIW was quickly adopted by Philips Electronics and Unilever. In 1999, the company created a separate business unit within Shell so that they could market and sell their product. Then, from 1999 on, almost all of the people that came into the company were external to Shell. In 2001, Kalido was set up as an independent company within Shell with the business plan to spin out on its own as a separate independent company, and that move was made on June 9, 2003.

Developers have been busy ever since Kalido's original inception, and thanks to their efforts, the company now offers KALIDO DIW (available in both Enterprise and Standard editions) along with KALIDO Master Data Manager (MDM) as the KALIDO Data Warehouse Lifecycle Management (DWLM) Suite.

The Problem with Other Enterprise Data Warehouse Solutions

Successful enterprises today have an indisputable need to be able to rapidly generate business intelligence to respond to changing market conditions in the most efficient and effective manner. For these enterprises, the challenge is to consolidate data from every part of the organization and make that information immediately available to the industry's prepackaged best-of-breed BI tools.

Traditional custom-built data warehouses are prone to long development cycles (as a factor of the required modeling), high cost (related to the long development cycle) and inflexibility.

"Our flagship product - KALIDO DIW - is an enterprise data warehouse application," notes Potter. "It's a prebuilt, prepackaged application and there is no programming involved to be able to deploy a data warehouse. You create a business model in KALIDO and then configure and load the warehouse. Our warehousing application supports relational databases such as Oracle, SQL Server and IBM DB2."

"Traditional data warehouse projects require that you actually build a warehouse database from scratch using data modeling and ETL tools," he continues. "These projects involve great amounts of programming, and custom-built warehouses are therefore difficult and expensive to change." Potter continues, "In our industry, there are analytic applications and capabilities within business applications such as Siebel and PeopleSoft, but nobody has built anything like what we offer. Our competition is custom-built enterprise data warehouses. That's who we compete against."

Sticky Situation

Potter notes that typical data warehouse implementations embrace data cleansing and preparation, and the extraction, transformation and loading (ETL), as well as the storage of data for BI reporting. "We are the middle of the end-to-end BI stack and sit between ETL and BI tools. We're the dynamic engine, the glue, the infrastructure - whatever you want to call it - we are the data warehouse itself," says Potter. "We work with ETL and BI vendors, and have non-exclusive partnerships with market leaders Ascential Software and Business Objects, respectively."

When Different Proves to be a Good Thing

The advantages of Kalido's award-winning DIW easily roll off Potter's tongue. He begins, "If time is of the essence - as is the case when you're doing a merger or acquisition - you need to produce immediate business benefits," a feat not possible with traditional data warehousing solutions. An example of this is the Halifax and Bank of Scotland (HBOS) merger project - winner of DM Review's prestigious 2003 World Class Solution Award. When HBOS was formed, the combined company wished to integrate procurement data across the organization in order to facilitate cost savings. Conventional wisdom dictated that a custom-built data warehouse was necessary, which meant a long development period and predefined and static business goals for modeling purposes. HBOS could not accept these terms because organizational structures would be changing regularly. Furthermore, they needed an operational data warehouse as quickly as possible because the board of directors wanted to use the cost savings made within the first few months of the merger as proof of its success. Using KALIDO DIW, HBOS was able to give business users a clear view of the merged procurement information within just three months.


Year Founded: 1996 as part of Shell, 2001 as company within Shell, and 2003 as separate independent company
Privately Held
Number of Employees: 73
Revenue: $9.4 Million in 2003
There are currently more than 200 KALIDO installations deployed in production in 100 countries.

DIW is notable for its ability to keep costs of a warehouse implementation down. "If you're very sensitive to that and you want to keep that cost down," says Potter, "you can do so by using Kalido."

The Dynamic in DIW - Addressing a MASSIVE Pain Point

Overwhelmingly, the main reason that people choose Kalido's solution is its ability to handle change. "The business users - the companies looking at our solution - know that their companies are undergoing change, and there's enormous change in business today. Companies are consolidating, they're under cost pressures, new brands are being introduced into the marketplace and there are government regulations requiring companies to report quickly. Given this amount of change, companies can't afford to build a data warehouse that could be obsolete the day it's deployed. If there's change happening in the business, you need to use an adaptive data warehouse. You need Kalido," says Potter.

"Our solution is flexible and adapts to change. There's no re-programming of the warehouse. You never have to rebuild the interfaces to the BI tools - all of those interfaces are there and enable you to accommodate change." It is also important to note that the solution is quick to respond and quick to deploy. Potter notes that implementation time for KALIDO DIW is typically half of the time required to build a custom warehouse, with many implementations completing within a three-month time frame. Potter also comments on companies with existing warehouses. "For many," says Potter, "the data warehouse is there, it exists, it runs, but it's just a pain to get it to evolve. Companies that can't deal with this anymore are coming to Kalido."

"Another differentiator for KALIDO DIW," notes Potter, "is the ability to federate. Our typical user has many data warehouses - full enterprise data warehouses. Federation is basically the distributed management of data warehouses. For example, BP has their BIGS - Business Intelligence and Global Standards - project, which will be approximately 30 data warehouses when fully rolled out. These 30 warehouses are consolidated into one global view. Very few Kalido customers have one massive data warehouse. That's a key differentiator for us - the ability to federate and have our system manage the distributed aspect of many data warehouses. Our federation enables much faster consolidation, much faster rollout and consistent views."

Picking Their Battles

Kalido estimates that the current addressable DW market is $25 billion, and they are mostly aiming to stay focused and deep in this market. Potter explains, "Why would we want to develop a lightweight ETL tool to load data into the warehouse when there are products out there that are quite good? We could OEM a lightweight reporting tool - go to Business Objects and license their Crystal Reports capability - but why do that when companies have been buying these things for years and already have enterprise licenses? We are going to stay very focused on building more capability - more features and more scalability - into our adaptive data warehouse solution."

Kalido has also identified the need for another product. "There is a complementary product area that we're focused on," says Potter. "We have developed a new master data management product for the management of business definitions and master reference data for use in data warehouses. As an example, the notion of customer exists in many systems - it exists in your ERP system, your customer relationship management system and any system that people are using to generate and store customer information. There were no solutions available in the market to manage where all of that information exists. We have introduced a product to the marketplace - we call it KALIDO Master Data Manager, and it's part of the KALIDO DWLM Suite." Potter reports that initial feedback on this product is extremely positive.

Bob Potter

Last Book Read: Good to Great, by Jim Collins
Most Memorable Movie: Doctor Zhivago
Favorite Entertainer: Enya
Favorite Game: Golf
Most Respected Politician: John F. Kennedy
Dream Car: BMW Z4
Favorite Vacation Spot: Ireland
Most Admired Individual: Thomas J. Watson, Sr.
Favorite TV Show: The West Wing
Favorite Team: New England Patriots
Hobby: Gardening
Favorite Type of Music: Irish New Age
Favorite Type of Food: Japanese
Favorite Beverage: Tanqueray and Tonic

Not Really A Startup

"We have a substantial customer base of Global 2000 companies, and that customer base will double this year," comments Potter. He attributes this growth to Kalido's significant investment in the U.S. market. "This is the biggest IT market in the world. If you're phenomenally successful in the UK, you'll be a great UK company; you won't be a great global company. You have to focus on the U.S. market," he notes.

Potter also mentions the company's longevity for anyone questioning their viability or presence. He asserts, "We've been around for a long time - we're not a startup. We're on KALIDO release 7.1, we'll have release 8.0 in general availability in June of this year, and we also have release 9.0 in early development - and we haven't skipped any numbers. This is a very mature company."

Kalido on Success

Potter doesn't argue with those who complain about the tortuous market conditions the industry has suffered in the past few years. "You know, it's been a tough IT market. In spite of that economic situation, Kalido has added customers and increased revenue 70 percent last year. And," he affirms, "we'll do it again this year."

With 100 percent of their customers willing to serve as references and a 100 percent success rate, Kalido is making large companies, such as Unilever, HBOS and Intelsat very successful through cost savings and increased flexibility for better understanding and improved competitiveness. "It takes obvious good planning with the customer and a good understanding of the business model to make this happen," admits Potter, "but there's no need for companies to write off $3, $5 or $10 million for projects that never see deployment. It all comes down to how flexible and how adaptive the underlying data warehouse is so that you have success." With their adaptive data warehouse, Kalido makes it easy to succeed.

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