REVIEWER: Bruce Belvin, CEO of Monolith.
BACKGROUND: Founded in 2000 and headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, Monolith Software Services provides software and services to the quick-serve restaurant (QSR) industry. The company brings solutions to restaurant owners and operators by combining open source technologies with a product philosophy that lets customers leverage existing investments in hardware and other technology infrastructure. The company offers solutions for point of sales, payroll, business intelligence and operational reporting solutions for companies that operate multiple QSR restaurants.
PLATFORMS: The solution stack was founded on the Linux OS and the MySQL database platform for the data warehouse.
PROBLEM SOLVED: To grow from a highly successful, regional provider to a national player we needed to replace our existing LAMP solution with a newly architected data warehouse and a more powerful, flexible BI solution, with Web 2.0-like user interfaces and a wide range of reporting, ad hoc query and analytics capabilities, while retaining the SaaS model. Managing input from thousands of different restaurants - with a wide range of POS technologies and data formats - posed an important challenge, and required flexible capabilities for filtering and transferring data.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: Today the application integrates extract, transform and load development into the standard development and deployment process. We were able to convert all our in-house code as well as incorporate some new data sources - fairly complex processing - into Talend integration processes in just a few months. It saved us countless developer hours. The fully implemented SaaS solution now serves more than 3,500 end users in more than 60 ownership organizations. Data is polled daily from more than 2,000 individual restaurants.
STRENGTHS: An important consideration for us was that Talend is a code-generator, not an engine, which let us easily integrate it into our custom polling software. It also made it much easier to develop custom ETL solutions that weren’t provided out of the box. Previously, all ETL was handled via Perl applications developed in house. The combination of the code generator and of the use of standard Perl and Java makes Talend incredibly portable and versatile.
WEAKNESSES: Being an early client of Talend, we have had to deal with some instabilities that are now fixed. However, the frequent Milestone releases sometimes make it challenging to integrate new versions - but that’s because we always want to work with the latest features.
SELECTION CRITERIA: We evaluated other technology, but we chose Jaspersoft and Talend because they could do everything we needed them to do. The teams were a good fit. The pricing model was ideal. And they gave us the best assurance we heard anywhere that they would help us implement the multitenancy features we needed.
DELIVERABLES: Currently, Talend is integrated with our polling software and its reporting application is based on JasperServer. Liferay Portal provides a consolidated view of the client’s data.
VENDOR SUPPORT: We’re a small, focused team and depend on fast, reliable support from software vendors. While the open source model ensures a comforting backstop made up of a large community dedicated to both quality and reliability of the software, we wanted a vendor we could trust regarding multi-tenancy; most available solutions did not support this key feature when we were designing our solution. That meant the selected vendor must demonstrate the readiness and will to help build this capability. Talend gave us the best assurance we heard anywhere - and they have been delivering.
DOCUMENTATION: The tool is fairly intuitive and makes it easy to work through issues. We also downloaded the documentation and went through some of the online tutorials. The community tools (forum, wiki, BugTracker) are amazing resources.
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