CEO CFO Interview the CEO of Sesame Software

Rick Banister, founder of Sesame Software, talks to CEO CFO Magazine about the mission of our company in a candid interview.
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Is Your SaaS CRM Backup Solution Setting You Up for Disaster?

In today’s business, everyone has learned the value of having a CRM solution. Whether it is on-premise or in the cloud, we keep this “single source of the truth” as a keystone to the health of our companies. It is the lifeblood of any sales organization and has grown to become critically important to marketing, finance, and every other arm of our businesses. But, what happens when there is a catastrophic event and this critical business data becomes corrupted, is accidentally or maliciously deleted, modified, or is just gone?
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The Case for Data Integration

Data permeates our modern world, necessitating increasingly more complex technology solutions to ensure diverse systems work in harmony. The evolution of package software applications with data siloes mandates data sharing between different applications. From sharing data between the most complex business applications to address book synchronization on your smart phone, the task of transforming and transferring this data comprises the expanding industry of data integration.
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Valuing the Costs and Benefits of Data Integration

So you’ve bought and installed all your company’s application systems: marketing, sales, accounting, manufacturing, provisioning, shipping, and human resources. Now – who’s going to copy and paste all that data from one system to another? This isn’t want they meant by the man-machine interface – the machines were supposed to serve us, not the other way around! So let’s take another look at valuing data integration properly instead of ignoring the problem, because it won’t go away on its own.
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Purposes of Data Warehouses

So you’re up and running with all your company’s application systems -- marketing, sales, accounting, manufacturing, provisioning, shipping, and human resources – and now you need a reporting system that ties all of this together so senior management actually knows what’s going on. The business has identified over 800 reports that need to be written in the next year, and there’s no way IT will be able to spend that amount of time writing reports, so you need a Business Intelligence package to let the business write their own reports. What are you going to do?
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Business Data Model

Where do you begin with your data warehouse? How do you know who needs it, why they need it, what they want in it, where you’re going to get the data, and how you’re going to load it? It’s probably best to get requirements before you start coding.
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Data Warehouse Architecture

Now that you’ve developed an understanding of how your business community actually uses its data and where it wants to go with it, it’s time to develop a logical data model.
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Physical Database Design

The physical design of your database optimizes performance while ensuring data integrity by avoiding unnecessary data redundancies. The task of building the physical design is a job that truly never ends. You need to continually monitor the performance and data integrity as time passes. Many factors necessitate periodic refinements to the physical design.
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Loading a Data Warehouse

Extraction is the first operation, literally the “E” in ETL. The extraction of data from various source systems for use in the warehouse is the most laborious task in building a data warehouse. Source systems come in varying levels of complexity and a multitude of physical architectures. However, the general rule is that the structure of source systems cannot be modified. That inflexibility is one of the reasons that data warehouses are so valuable.
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Regulatory Environment for Data Compliance

“Data compliance” sounds like a thing that you should do if you have lawyers and regulatory agencies looking over your shoulder, maybe something that you can put off for a while. You might be in trouble with the boss if you lose a lot of data, but you’re definitely going to be in trouble if that new ecommerce system isn’t in place by the time your company launches its newest product. At what point should you care? When the federal compliance agency fines your company? When that one-time data fix-it script overwrites or deletes massive amounts of customer information?
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Data Compliance: Backup and Recovery Solution Checklist

Companies are buying solutions to back up their corporate application data in order to meet regulatory compliance and save their company from various levels of data disaster. There are managed hosted solutions that keep the backups in the vendors servers (i.e.: Cloud backup) and solutions that maintain a local database copy of their data. The evaluation criteria include meeting functional requirements, flexibility, simplicity and cost of deployment and management. All of these factors must also drive a solution that fits into the existing corporate IT environment and simultaneously capitalizes on the in-house skills of the technical team.
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Custom Application Integration and Migration

Companies are buying solutions to back up their corporate application data in order to meet regulatory compliance and save their company from various levels of data disaster. There are managed hosted solutions that keep the backups in the vendors servers (i.e.: Cloud backup) and solutions that maintain a local database copy of their data. The evaluation criteria include meeting functional requirements, flexibility, simplicity and cost of deployment and management. All of these factors must also drive a solution that fits into the existing corporate IT environment and simultaneously capitalizes on the in-house skills of the technical team.
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Enterprise Application Integration

Integrating vendor package applications should be a breeze. You have complete online documentation, API’s, lots of metadata, great vendor support, and a plentiful supply of consulting experts who are competing to get your business. What could go wrong?
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Citizen Integration

Citizen Integration puts the tools of data management and integration directly into the hands of business analysts. The idea of the citizen developer evolved from the rapid pace of technology development. Today’s IT is so much easier to use than it was 20 years, or even 10 years, ago that it seems logical to jump to the conclusion that you could soon do without the IT department.
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ETL Tools vs. Hand Written SQL

Two hands-on integration experts have wildly different conclusions on the merits of ETL tools, despite each having years of experience with hand-written SQL and ETL tools. Both experts represent the IT side. Both earn a living implementing data integration solutions. But they disagree on what is the best approach: home grown native SQL or vendor ETL products.
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SQL-Based Interface

ETL functions are best done by database programmers with expertise in development, rather than business analysts with no IT experience. If Citizen Integration is not the answer, what can companies do to get the most out of their ETL functions while building and maintaining a data warehouse that truly serves as an engine for revenue growth?
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Integration Topology

With the explosion of things to connect to and the need for integration being hotter than ever before, the big question becomes do you need a bicycle, bus, or quantum approach? Naturally it depends on your use case. A bicycle is easier to use, costs less, but can’t carry as many people!
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Integration Deployment Modes

Integration solutions can have one or more “deployment modes,” which define where the actual hardware and software reside. We will discuss the ins and outs of each deployment mode and what the vendor hype regarding “cloud based” solutions really means.
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Scalability and Performance

With enormous amounts of data comes great responsibility – and great headaches. While the business continues its pursuit of tracking everything forever, the IT department is required to keep abreast of the technology required to store, access, maintain, backup and recover all of that data.
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Scalability and Performance of Cloud Data

Two of the biggest business trends of the past decade have been the increased reliance on data-driven decision-making in mid-and large-size companies and the fact that much of that data is now likely to be stored in the Cloud. Both of these trends on their own seem harmless enough. But combined they can pose a challenge for business intelligence professionals looking to generate reports in near-real time based on their company’s data.
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Build vs. Buy

Everything in life has an opportunity cost as well as financial costs. Acquiring or building a software solution for data integration is no different. Presumably, choosing the least expensive product solution would probably involve writing everything yourself using open source tools and scripting. But wait – that approach hides the true cost of development and maintenance, unless you work for free or are just looking to justify your employment in the absence of “real work.”
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