Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dolphins (redux) and Holiday Wishes

It's off to Dolphin-land again for the family. We'll be down in Curacao for a week, with lots of scuba, books, and dolphins. It's a much-needed vacation, and my plans are to be relatively unplugged the whole time. (Relatively...I just can't bring myself to truly commit to taking a break, can I?)

I've got two books coming with me on the trip. The first is Ken Follett's huge tome "World Without End." It's a follow-up to his "Pillars of the Earth," which I thoroughly enjoyed. The second book is "Water for Elephants," by Sara Gruen. I know very little about it, but my wife loved it. Not sure which will get picked up...

It's been a wild year at EnterpriseDB...explosive growth, amazing customers, terrific new team members, and great change. I'll be speaking more about the year in review shortly after my return. In the meantime, I wish everyone a holiday season filled with peace and joy, and I hope the new year brings great adventures to you and yours.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The OSA Report (including the Popularity of Postgres)

The Open Solutions Alliance (OSA) just published the results of the 5 customer forums they held in 2007. The report is a quick read (11 pages), and is quite thoughtful and balanced. I will highlight a couple of points I found particularly interesting, but I'd encourage you to read it for yourself.

First, a great insight from the report is the relative popularity of Postgres for serious applications. Customers in the forums were from "both public and private sectors, both large and small organizations, both business and technical managers, and both early adopters and mainstream users. When asked about their open source usage, "about 50% used open-source databases, equally divided between MySQL and Postgres." Equally divided...hmmm...

If measured by pure downloads, MySQL's claim of being the world's most popular database is certainly true. But most serious developers know that Postgres (particularly that slick distribution from EnterpriseDB ;-) is the world's most advanced open source database, and that it combines extraordinary capability with terrific ease of use.

Another great insight from the report is the question of why people gravitate to open source software. Cost Reduction is "by far" the number one reason, particularly because it allows you to pay later in the usage cycle, when the code's value is delivered, rather than paying up-front licensing. Just as important an insight is that the Ability to Customize code is not at all important; most people want their software "as is."

These two points precisely reflect our experience with our customers. They are looking for less expensive alternatives that are available for free until value is delivered. Furthermore, customers want to know that experts are building their software, and have little or no interest in modifying the database code themselves. There are, of course, exceptions, but they are few and far between.

There's lots more meat in the report. Go read it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Responding to The Register

OK, folks, it's been a really long time since I blogged. Guilty as charged of procrastination beyond belief. But today's article in The Register means that I've got to get back to the keyboard. Here goes...

Let's start with a few objective facts about the state of EnterpriseDB:

1. We're in the final month of our best quarter ever
2. 2007 sales growth over 2006 will be measured in multiples, not percentage points
3. We have nearly 200 customers, compared with about 60 at the end of 2006
4. In just 7 quarters of sales, our repeat business rate is huge
5. Our average sales price is increasing consistently over time

Does this sound like a company in trouble? No, it doesn't seem like it to me, either. So, what's the story?

The story is really simple and really common. EnterpriseDB is a young company, and like every other young company I've ever been involved with, we are fine-tuning our business model. In our case, that meant recognizing that a large direct field sales force was overkill, and that most prospective customers prefer to work with us over the phone, anyway.

So, we had to say goodbye to a few great people, and we also asked a couple of underperforming individuals to leave. At the same time, we also brought on several new key individuals, and are actively hiring for many more (including -- guess where -- inside salespeople).

Like any business, we make plans based on educated guesses about what the market will want, and how we we can best deliver it. We adjust those plans according to actual market feedback. These adjustments include changes in products, service offerings, sales models, and every other aspect of business.

The problem is not that we've made a few changes. The problem would be if we failed to do so.