How Aprimo fuels enterprise-wide modernization with Azure
By Microsoft in Business Team on November 21, 2017
Filed under Microsoft in Business
|Focus on: Engage Customers, Empower Employees, Transform Products
As Aprimo onboarded its first customer to their new SaaS-only Azure solution, VP of Research and Development, Jason LaPointe, reflected on the enterprise-wide transformation. The company had come a long way since their on-prem days, and their customers certainly appreciated the upgrade. Migrating their first customer to the Azure-based system took just 90 days, and 19 more customers followed suit in year one. In fact, 80% of Aprimo customers have already signed up for the migration—a sure sign the company is headed in a good direction.
With this modern Azure solution, Aprimo’s software engineers can focus on the development and innovation projects the enterprise has long been known for, enabling the company to better compete in the modern world of cloud-first marketing technology.
Established in 1998, Aprimo is a software company that delivers enterprise class Marketing Productivity, Financial Plan and Spend, Distributed Marketing, and Digital Assets Management solutions. The organization’s more than 500 employees specialize in helping marketing companies increase their efficiency and effectiveness by using smart marketing methods.
Jason is responsible for Aprimo’s Global Research and Development operations. He played a major role in successfully guiding Aprimo’s employees and customers through their digital transformation, providing a substantial competitive boost, and ultimately modernizing the company’s overall infrastructure.
Prioritizing modern technology to save money and drive overall success
The company’s original single tenant, on-premise software model presented a number of challenges for the company. Aprimo was shipping a new software release every 12-18 months to a broad customer base that was struggling to consume it. Migrations to new releases were slow, painful, and expensive. Business processes had to be re-validated, customizations tested, and configuration validated prior to go-live. Because of this, customers were generally slow at adopting new releases—sometimes only updating their systems once every two years. Each customer’s environment was essentially its own custom version of Aprimo with its own unique characteristics. Support costs skyrocketed and product innovation stalled.
“We were largely being driven by services around the upgrade of the product,” explained Jason. “It just wasn’t the business model we wanted. We wanted to be a software company. We wanted to deliver innovation, but instead we were supporting hundreds of versions of the product.”
In addition to a software delivery model that was fundamentally broken, Aprimo had also begun offering “hosting services” to their customers. They were racking gear. Spinning up VMs. Patching operating systems. Aprimo had become an infrastructure provider. It was expensive for customers and it was expensive for Aprimo. On top of the massive amount of money required to build out data centers, “hosting services” also required significant focus from R&D, which further detracted from innovation. As a result, Aprimo struggled to effectively compete with the preconfigured, sleek interfaces of their industry competitors.
Aprimo needed a new way forward. They needed to find a way to rapidly ship innovation to the market that all customers could consume without additional cost or headache. Aprimo needed to become a software company, and they needed a partner to help them get there. With Microsoft Azure’s flexible and reliable technology, Aprimo could leverage the platform’s combination of infrastructure and services to complement the smart marketing technology at the core of their mission.
Developing an adoption strategy and leveraging Azure’s comprehensive system
Once Jason’s team identified the Azure platform as their path forward, they aggressively began changing the DNA of Aprimo to utilize Azure technologies. They leveraged a combination of Platform as a Service, and Infrastructure as a Service offerings, to build a reliable weekly release pipeline, offload core infrastructure tasks (e.g. backup) to the Azure platform, and optimize their product to globally scale and support users around the globe. Aprimo’s Subscription as a Service Marketing Hub was ready for business. To allow Aprimo to focus on SaaS, Aprimo’s original on-prem, single tenant software as put into maintenance mode. Future releases would focus on customer stability only. All new features and innovation would be delivered exclusively on Aprimo SaaS. For many of Aprimo’s customers, the move to the new Aprimo was going to their first application to run in the “cloud.” Aprimo shared Azure’s cutting edge features, outlined the numerous projected benefits, and used strategic selling to drive buy-in from their customer base. Their key goal was to communicate that Azure was a mutually beneficial, compelling, cost-effective digital solution.
“We told customers the new way we’d be releasing software would be SaaS only,” said Jason. “Customers can come into our SaaS product hosted in Azure, where their total cost of ownership will be significantly lower. No migrations. It’s seamless, it’s done for you.”
The comprehensive and powerful Aprimo platform now provides weekly software updates that are 100% transparent to their customers, 24/7 global availability, and rich enterprise features their customers expect. The continuity between Microsoft products also allowed Aprimo to streamline workplace processes and realize significant cost savings. Because of Azure’s straightforward infrastructure and simple maintenance, Aprimo’s infrastructure operations team is now 20% of what it was under their previous model, allowing the enterprise to redistribute money and human resources towards software development and other innovative projects.
“I don’t have to have an enormous team to run SaaS operations,” Jason explained. “All I have to do is configure the services and everything else is handled for me. High availability, scaling, disaster recovery, optimization—they are invisible to me. It just happens.”
Re-energizing Aprimo’s company mission with Azure
With Azure’s reliable, innovative technology, Aprimo enhances its competitive edge through modern tools and industry-leading capabilities. Cloud technology streamlines and manages the core Aprimo platform, so that Aprimo R&D can re-energize with a focus on delivering a world class Marketing Hub to a global customer base.
Their digital transformation drives the company’s vision into the future, empowering employees to focus on developing Aprimo into the innovation leader of their industry.