In this interview, we'll speak with Scott Barnett, co-founder of the enterprise content management portal solution, Bluenog. We'll discuss how Bluenog came to be and where they plan to go in the future.
CC: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
SB: I've been in the Enterprise Software industry for 20 years - I started in the late 80's right out of school as a programmer for AT&T Bell Labs. I had the privilege of working with some really talented people who built some software that is actually still in use today. Somehow, I caught the entrepreneurial bug while at AT&T and I wound up leaving after 7 years to go to a startup. I haven't looked back since! I gradually made the move from Product Management to Sales & Marketing, as I found that I really enjoyed spending time with customers and prospects helping them solve their business and technical problems. After the dot-com crash I felt the need for some stability and went back to a "big" company - BEA Systems. BEA had a very unique corporate culture. It remained dynamic even when it grew fairly large, and extremely talented people worked there. It was at BEA that I met my future Bluenog partners, Suresh Kuppusamy and Sastry Taruvai and I decided to get entrepreneurial once again with Bluenog.
CC: How did Bluenog come about?
SB: While we were at BEA, a lot of our customers were looking to augment their BEA software with open source technologies to keep costs under control. We recognized an opportunity to start a company that helped customers blend both open source and commercial technologies. We’ve continued to shape IT over the last four years and one of the key themes that remains is the fact that integration plays a major part of enterprise software acquisition and use, so focusing on making integration easier and support/maintenance more cost effective continues to be a driving force.
CC: Where did the name come from?
SB: We actually have an explanation of this on our website, because so many people ask! Suresh, Sastry and I were working on names over our favorite beer (which happened to be Blue Moon at the time) and Suresh mentioned that a "nog" is a wooden peg that holds infrastructure together. It also happens to be an alcoholic beverage - and both seemed to fit. Then we started to think about what "type" of nog we would be, and after throwing around a bunch of ideas we settled on Bluenog. It didn't hurt that the domain was available and a Google search brought up only 2 results!
CC: What is your vision for the CMS market?
SB: Our vision is much broader than just CMS. We believe that content is key in any enterprise application - and these days, most enterprise applications are web-based. So, CMS alone is not enough. Access to different kinds of content is key. A good system must include legacy content, reporting content as well as structured and unstructured content. This means having a dynamic presentation framework to work with, a robust reporting engine that can easily generate, store and categorize reports, collaboration tools (which by the way are also all about content) and a robust and scalable infrastructure framework providing security, persistence, load balancing and most importantly - integration to serve as the underpinnings of the entire system.
CC: What has been your biggest achievement to date?
SB: In the past 2 years we have raised $4M in Venture Funding, brought 2 new versions of ICE to the market and received market and industry validation from numerous press and analysts. To this end, we have several publicly referenceable customers, we were listed in the InformationWeek Startup 50 and Red Herring 100 for 2009. We also have over 100 customers with a great track record of success.
CC: Your biggest regret?
SB: It's hard to call them regrets - more appropriate perhaps would be lessons learned. We are learning how to build and grow a company from its infancy - and there are many steps along a company’s growth path. We've gone through several successfully so far, but there will be more challenges to navigate. I would invite you to ask this question again once we've gotten through some of the next few stages!
CC: What sets Bluenog apart?
SB: Two main things - from a product perspective, it's all about integration - the pre-integration of individual components such as CMS, Portal, BI and Collaboration into a single product, and the ease-of-integration we provide with third party legacy systems - this saves companies significant time and money On the implementation of enterprise applications. The second item is our delivery capabilities - Bluenog Solutions Group has significant experience putting together enterprise applications in a timely and efficient manner - we all know the software is important, but implementation is critical. Having both under one roof (or, one throat to choke) allows us to leverage a predominantly open source software stack and provide seamless support for our customers' infrastructure. This is tremendously valuable to our customers.
CC: Who uses Bluenog?
SB: We have customers in many different industries, including Banking, Healthcare and Higher Education. We recently announced a specific Higher Ed initiative to integrate more tightly with popular products and systems unique to Higher Ed, such as Sakai, Moodle, Banner and others. We tend to be used by middle market companies (between $200M - $2B revenue) that have an IT staff, but no time to tinker and integrate open source by themselves, and no budget for the larger vendors. These companies tend to want the enterprise functionality and framework capabilities that the larger vendors provide at a fraction of the price. That Is Bluenog's sweet spot.
CC: Where do you see the company in 5 yrs time?
SB: That is really hard to say with the economy in such turbulence. There does seem to be a movement towards consolidation in the open source space, so I would expect there will be fewer vendors five years from now, and we are working hard to make sure Bluenog is one of them.
CC: What can we expect for new and upcoming changes?
SB: You will see the continued evolution of our product - social computing in the enterprise has gained a lot of traction and we think we can provide some interesting capabilities in that space. We are also working on enhancements around Workflow and Process. At the end of the day, we are extremely customer-driven, so our current customers set a lot of the agenda in terms of next steps in product development.
CC: How has the current global financial condition impacted you?
SB: The same as I would assume it has impacted everybody - there is less IT budget to go around, companies are very selective with what they spend money on, and reuse of existing infrastructure is a mandate. We are hopeful that our business model will be effective – we allow customers to use our product at no charge to evaluate functionality and build the customizations they need, and they don’t have to pay until they put it into production. We see this more and more as companies are evaluating open source alternatives. There are still companies that buy software the "old fashioned" way - by purchasing the software and consulting up front based on a capital budget allocation. But in this market, we aree starting to see this less often.
CC: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, Scott. We wish you all the best.
SB: Thanks for letting me tell Bluenog’s story! We are confident that the CMS market will continue to converge and we will see Search, Reporting, Portal and Collaboration become essential components in every customers’ content strategy. Of course, we will get to claim that we were one of the first to get there with a truly integrated product that combines these elements and provides the foundation for building truly scalable and enterprise-quality web based systems.
CC: You can learn more about Bluenog from their website, http://www.bluenog.com