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Stromasys updates its rollout sales efforts

It's been close to five months since emulator vendor Stromasys announced its North American sales kickoff at a May Training Day event. In a Q&A interview with the company's senior VP of sales and services, Rich Pugh says the prospects still have interest and questions, but fewer of the queries are about technical capabilities. Pugh said he’s been pitching large companies this summer on 3000 replacements using the CHARON virtualization engine. CEO Ling Chang sat in on the interview, to introduce Pugh to us.

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Is there anything that seems to be in common among your prospects’ installations, regarding horsepower needs? I know that CHARON was going to get a 1.3 refresh for greater performance.

Rich PughAt one site, there’s 11 separate applications that run and one overnight batch job. The way we brainstormed doing their solution is not a like-for-like replacement, but considering breaking apart the application, and possibly stacking multiple processors. There’s Datapipe, a cloud company and hosting provider similar to Rackspace, and do our proof of concept from the cloud. The plan is to reduce the space to the point of eliminating the server from the DR site, and let the physical assets reside in the production environment.

This is the kind of dialogue of flexibility that we’re trying to position, instead of the traditional methodology of just buying a license in capital dollars.

So would that change the investment level for the customer?

Not really. The analogy that I would use is Microsoft Office 365: just another way of using what you might need permanently or temporarily, over the cloud. At Stromasys we’ve had a value prop that’s just been traditional. Buy a license. What Ling and I are suggesting is that this is clearly an area that makes sense, to use the cloud for proof of concept.

Have any of the major third party application suppliers — Ecometry, MANMAN, Amisys, or others — had their customers use CHARON as of today?

Direct access to that application-using community hasn’t been as robust as we’d like. I don’t have a specific response to that question yet; we may have an update soon.

Is that access important in any way? Is the first-year business going to come from customers who have their own application code?

We expect that the direct sales effort will give us more insight into that over the next 90 days.

How might you overcome the late start HP created for this product with MPE customers? This is a new situation for a Stromasys product.  

CEO Ling Chang: That’s a good point. This is a market that remains undefined. It is our challenge to find those who are remaining, and still run their business-critical applications on the HP 3000. Right now, based on preliminary information we received from the service providers at our training day event, the numbers vary. But it’s in terms of the thousands. Not the hundreds of thousands, as in the old Digital product line.

Our challenge is to give those remaining 3000 customers a bridge to their next step — whether it’s to migrate, or stay on.

With the OS already off HP’s support list before the product became available, is there enough customer base remaining to succeed?

Chang: It’s something we have to balance, because Stromasys is still a very small company — and yet we’re going into the enterprise market, which requires resources. While we do that balance, we’re still early in the process. Our goal is to team with HP 3000 partners where we have mutual interests to help get the word out.

Pugh: When Gartner describes what’s going on in the emulation space — where we were named a Cool Vendor — they say that the operating system is just the personality. In the past operating systems were like a religion that you’d never breach. Put MPE against VMS? Give me a break, don’t go there. Now it really doesn’t mean a thing. These are just personalities of what we do, which is a hardware emulation. 

A lot of the problem a customer has to solve is a business problem: risk management, not necessarily when the decision was made to choose a platform to run that application. I’m not minimizing any of the strengths of MPE. But it’s just not as technically important as it was back in the day when IT architectures — because of the proprietary nature of every element — mattered so much. 

I can appreciate that Gartner’s personality conversation would resonate with today’s Millennials. A CFO at the company I’m selling to is in his 30s. They don’t know what MPE means to the business.

What’s the difference in length of project between going to CHARON vs. an application replacement onto a non-MPE platform, or a rewrite?

Chang: As you know, any time you’re looking at a rewrite you’re talking about multiple years. Those projects do not usually come in on time, or under budget for that matter. But even while a customer is doing that, we can be a solution to keep the application up and running. We can implement our solution in a matter of days.

Is there a structure or process in place to develop a network of resellers and consultants for CHARON in the 3000 market?

Chang: We would love to explore the opportunity for a company to become a reseller. We can do a sell-with model, to make it a win-win for a consultant. 

Pugh: We’re refining our channel model. There are certainly companies that could offer presales, or sales and presales support. And then they could be a value added reseller. We’re going to be in the process of introducing a program that allows a company or an individual to get started and get their feet wet, and then become a full VAR. Just months ago we didn’t have that opportunity to give such partners a stair-step approach to building a business around this product.