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An Upgrade of Necessity

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Posted 2008-03-31 Print this article Print

The software Vendor's Project oasis, code name for a massive ERP overhaul, nearly crippled its ordering system. Refocusing on the user experience and connecting with a hidden class of customers salvaged the company's business. 

An Upgrade of Necessity

If the $13.5 billion merger of Symantec and Veritas in 2004 was a marriage of equals, Project Oasis was the wedding band and icing on the cake. To understand the complexity of the task of unifying the two companies under one ordering and licensing system, you first have to understand that this merger wasn’t textbook.

Synergies that theoretically result in cost reductions and savings didn’t exist in this merger. Symantec and Veritas were more than just two different technology providers; they were distinct organizations with different pedigrees. Symantec grew up in the consumer market and sold that way, even with its enterprise business. Veritas was always an enterprise software vendor, and its sales, product delivery and marketing infrastructure was geared toward large-site licensing.

Project Oasis would unite those disparate business models and provide a home for the more than 250,000 products in the combined company’s stable. Oasis would be used to unify Symantec and Veritas ordering and financial systems, launch a new licensing model and license-key release system, establish compliance with global trade regulations and provide new tools for partner enablement. In addition to Veritas’ assets, planners also had to consider the dozens of smaller vendors Symantec had gobbled up in the past five years.

By the time David Thompson (no relation to the CEO) joined Symantec as chief information officer (CIO) in early 2006, Project Oasis was nearly a year into its planning and integration. Thompson’s predecessors had planned to roll out the ERP system in November 2006 in one massive push. However, Thompson, a former Oracle IT executive and veteran of many ERP implementations, recast the project in four major phases, the last being the full ERP launch and the closing down of the old system.

Despite program adjustments, the project never slipped off its intended launch date. In fact, the project launched a week early.

The system was a significant change from the previous iteration. Based on feedback from partners and customers, Symantec designed the system to show copious amounts of information, including every license previously purchased and currently supported, as well as a vast array of parts numbers and product stock-keeping units.

*ERP systems are meant to bring centralized views in to disparate systems. International Game Technology, a multi-billion dollar maker of slot machines, did just that. Check out the article: ERP: Gaming Company Hits Jackpot.

While not the fabled single-pane-of-glass reporting tool, Oasis would give users almost everything they’d need to gain deeper insight into existing licenses and make better buying decisions.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.
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