Got Corporation Finds a Buddy at Microsoft

by Eric Melka

The Microsoft ISV Buddy Program, launched in July 2004, connects an Independent Software Vendor (ISV), with a Microsoft employee. The program enables the ISV to connect to Microsoft by having a buddy in the company, and provides the Microsoft buddy the opportunity to work directly with a customer. (For more information about the Microsoft Buddy Program, or to find a buddy, visit the Web site ISV Buddy Program.)

During its first two months, over 750 Microsoft Employees signed up to become buddies. As word about the program spread through the ISV Community, ISVs started profiling themselves to be matched with Microsoft buddies. These one-on-one relationships have resulted in many success stories. The following story illustrates one of them.

About Got Corporation

Got Corporation (http://www.gotcorp.com) is an e-marketing software company founded in 1999. Got provides a set of marketing automation tools and services that meet a wide variety of industry needs. With their range of self-serve tools and advanced marketing CRM (Customer Relationship Management) programs, they offer customers individual solutions. Their approach is to listen to their customers, evaluate what they have to say, and then use their responses to interact with them. The result is better customer intelligence, a personalized customer experience, and increased customer satisfaction. Got has over 100,000 users from small business to major enterprise customers.

The Situation

Got hosts a Web-based, high-availability application that runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The application was originally developed in Java, using an Oracle database and iPlanet as an application server running on Sun Solaris. The application processed about 50,000 transactions per minute to the database.

After awhile, the application was breaking under the strain of underdevelopment, and customers were asking for more sophisticated features. Got viewed the options to either overhaul the application or to build a new one as needed. They decided to build a new application and to make the switch to Microsoft .NET.

One major technical hurdle was building a search tool that would allow Got customers to search through their database using a combination of complex operators and getting the results within 20 seconds or less. Their databases are in the 500 gigabyte range and the design needed to have a software (not hardware) solution. Pradeep, Eric’s Microsoft buddy, put them in touch with people from Microsoft Premier Services who did an architectural review of their database and data access designs. The Premier Services support professionals involved, Sharon Bjeletich and Jason Roth, were top of the line. (Sharon literally wrote the book on Microsoft SQL Server). Later, when the application was in beta, Got gained access to testing labs to validate the design and have Microsoft database administrators make further recommendations. The lab testing enabled them to further increase the performance of the application.

Becoming an ISV Buddy

Eric Melka, the CEO of Got Corporation, became an ISV Buddy during the pilot phase of the ISV Buddy Program. Pradeep Rathinam, the Director of ISV Breadth Programs in the Developer and Platform Evangelism Group at Microsoft, invited Eric to become an ISV Buddy based on a recommendation from a member of his team. Eric was thrilled to work directly with someone at Microsoft at a point when the company needed some help with their application development efforts.

Advantages of Having a Microsoft Buddy

Eric and Pradeep's initial conversation focused on the Got Corporation’s application requirements and their past experiences with the technologies they had been using. Eric’s goal was to get the product out to market very quickly and within budget. Challenges included mitigating any potential delays if the company switched to Microsoft .NET and the need to retain the current development team.

As a result of participating in the ISV Buddy program, Got Corporation achieved measurable costs savings. The ISV Buddy Program, and the buddy relationship between Eric and Pradeep, helped Got save money and achieve their product goals at the same time.

The ISV Buddy Program enabled Got Corporation to migrate their application to Microsoft’s .NET platform in just over three months. Pradeep, Eric's Microsoft buddy, helped to find the right people with the right skill sets to get the answers to Eric's questions on a timely basis.

Prior to using Microsoft .NET, from 1999 to 2003, Got spent approximately 18 million dollars for development, architecture, Information Technology, and hosting to support their extensive customer base. In 2004, they spent less than two million dollars to develop a better product.

Even more important than the cost savings realized from migrating was the market advantage Got Corporation achieved due to a much shorter product development cycle than before.

In Eric's words, "The ISV Buddy Program did more than just enable us to migrate to Microsoft .NET. Pradeep helped us to understand the direction of Microsoft platforms and applications, which lead to a better understanding of what the future upgrades will need to look like. With a better understanding of the smart client, "Yukon," and Microsoft CRM, we are able to build a better product that lives within the Microsoft offering."

One benefit of the ISV Buddy Program that can't be taken for granted is the effect it has on the participants. Both the Microsoft buddy and the ISV buddy felt happy that they were able to contribute to each other's work and knowledge. And developer enthusiasm often translates into better products all around.