In this episode of the Futurum Live! From the Show Floor – Interview Series, Futurum’s Senior Analyst and VP of Sales Steven Dickens was joined by SVA Software, Inc.’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing Lisa Schwab during the SHARE Conference in Columbus. Their conversation focuses on what the company is doing in the mainframe space, the pillars of their zOptimization platform, and how SVA Software, Inc.’s combined software and service is a big differentiator for them in the market.
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Steven Dickens: Hello, and welcome to the Futurum Tech Webcast live from the show floor. My name’s Steven Dickens, and we’re here at SHARE in Columbus, and I’ve got the pleasure of being joined by Lisa Schwab from SVA Software, Inc.
Lisa Schwab: Hi.
Steven Dickens: Hey Lisa, how are you?
Lisa Schwab: I’m doing wonderful today. How are you?
Steven Dickens: Yeah, it’s good. It’s great to see people in person. We’ve only met down a Zoom, so it’s-
Lisa Schwab: Yes. And I’m very tired of it. Not because of you, but just generally speaking tired of learning through Zoom, tired of meeting people online. Very glad to be here and meeting people face-to-face again.
Steven Dickens: Yeah. And you can tell where the buzz from the show already, people are… I’ve been walking the hall saying hello to a bunch of people that I haven’t seen in three or four years, so it’s fantastic to be back in person.
Lisa Schwab: It really is. Especially yesterday, the welcome reception. I was very excited because I got to meet a couple of former IBM coworkers. I’ve been in Germany for a while working for IBM. It was fun to see them again, and also former customers, current customers. I’m very excited about being here.
Steven Dickens: So I’ve been working with SVA Software for a while. We’ve been talking, you’ve been briefing me on what you guys are doing, but let’s just introduce you to the guests and to the listeners, the viewers on the show here. Tell us a little bit about SVA?
Lisa Schwab: So I am Lisa Schwab, as you said. I’m the vice president for sales and marketing for SVA Software here in the United States. I am based in beautiful Austin, and hot as heck Austin.
Steven Dickens: I was going to say, it’s a little hotter than Germany.
Lisa Schwab: It truly is. I’m very excited to get this little break from the heat right now. SVA is our parent company. SVA is headquartered in Germany. We are around for 25 years now. And we are the biggest system integrator for IBM in Europe, and I think it’s number three worldwide, especially when it comes to software and also power, the power world.
Steven Dickens: And that was what was interesting for me. I didn’t realize how big a company you were. I think I was aware of you as a smaller software company, not that big a parent, so maybe double click on that?
Lisa Schwab: That’s the mom. It’s the big one. It’s let’s say 2,500 employees worldwide now, and revenue is well above a $1 billion. So it’s really a significant size company. However, in the US, our business model is a little different. That’s why we’re called SVA Software, Inc in the US. We focus on selling our own developed solution, and it’s all about empowering infrastructure. So our solutions range from mainframe optimization to VMware layer optimization and everything that’s in between. If it’s storage, if it’s power, whatever you can ask for. We optimize, we monitor, we provide alerting. So our mission is, as I just said, empowering your infrastructure.
Steven Dickens: And I was fascinated when we got to speak about optimization and what you’re doing in the mainframe space particularly. Obviously we’re at SHARE, so that’s where we’re focusing today. Tell me a little bit more? Optimization’s a big word-
Lisa Schwab: It really is.
Steven Dickens: … What do you do in that space? Because I found it fascinating when we spoke before the show.
Lisa Schwab: Sure. So we refer to our optimization as zOptimization platform, and it basically consists of three pillars, one, zWR, our zWorkload Reporter, then it’s the zService and it’s zGuard. Working with customers over so many years now, we found that basically it’s always around five problems that you need to address in the mainframe space. One is meeting your SLAs, because when you miss them, you can definitely face penalties, charges, whatever. The second is definitely a financial planning, because we all know the mainframe world can be a very expensive one. Having a good idea of what to expect in terms of costs. And talking costs, the third point is most mainframe customers want to reduce their actual costs and/or increase the revenue, depending on the perspective you look at it-
Steven Dickens: Do more for less, or-
Lisa Schwab: Exactly.
Steven Dickens: … That classic equation of, I want to maximize budgets, but I’ve got more work to do.
Lisa Schwab: Exactly. Then the fourth of course is an independent capacity planning and analysis. And last but not least is the operational stability. We all know that mainframe staff is retiring, how hard it is to find new talent on all of that. So that is why we have it. We call our solution a platform. And let me dig a little deeper into each of the three pillars. So zWR, the zWorkload Reporter is a cloud-based reporting portal that comes with some 700 ish predefined reports, and still growing.
Steven Dickens: And I think the interesting thing when we spoke was that it’s cloud-based. We hear so much about hybrid these days, and you’re obviously a mainframe software-
Lisa Schwab: On your mainframe. Correct.
Steven Dickens: … And I think that was the key takeaway for me when you briefed me on it. I’m like, oh yeah, I’ve seen this type of tool before. Oh, it runs on the cloud. And I think that speaks to the hybrid story that we’re seeing across the industry.
Lisa Schwab: Absolutely does. It runs on the cloud. And with these reports, as I said, the 700 plus predefined reports, they kind of tell you how well your system is performing. And so you can kind of drill down all the way from the tech level to your job level. So it’s really just one click, and you see all the relevant information-
Steven Dickens: The interesting thing for me though was that it’s not just the software, you’re tapping into the SVA expertise, and it’s kind of this marriage of not only the deep software, but also the expertise. Maybe tell us a little bit more about that?
Lisa Schwab: And that is the zService, the second of those three pillars. We don’t just throw a piece of software over the fence and leave you alone with a huge amount of data, we are actually here to help you make sense out of that data. Let me give you an example. We’ve helped customers to really understand their financial contract, no matter if it’s sub-capacity pricing, if it’s tailor-fit pricing. And also especially with a performance analysis that we do together with the customer, we notice that most of our customers are at the end able to reduce MSU, which means save costs, but at the same time improve their performance, and that is, like you’ve said earlier, more with less.
Steven Dickens: And I think that combination of not only the deep 700 reports and the things to tune, but then also the expertise that’s done that before to be able to go, it’s not just the smarts from the software, it’s smarts from people who’ve got a lot of experience implementing that and seeing those benefits. And I think those two together was what I took away from our briefing as the most value. And there’s the third component as well. Where does that fit?
Lisa Schwab: So as you said… Let me make a quick comment. I think that is the main differentiator that we have in the market. It’s the combined software and service. And zGuard, that third pillar, optimally comes in after your system is well-tuned with of course zWR and zServices. And it’s a real-time intelligent automation tool and monitor. And it’s intelligence comes from customized scripting. And with those scripts, you can do load balancing, you can do alerting through email or whatever source of messaging you choose, or adjust the capacity automatically. And so let’s say, to summarize it, that it centralizes your operations because you have everything just in one view from your KEGG to your LPAR, and that, by the way, runs with a small little bitty agent that is not processed on the mainframe, and you have that agent at every LPAR you want to monitor.
Steven Dickens: And I think we’ve seen across all industries automations getting more and more prevalent. I think in the mainframe space with some of the skills challenges that you talked about, being able to codify that expertise and turn it into automation code that then can go and automatically keep those environments running at their optimum, that’s got to be a message that’s resonating.
Lisa Schwab: Yeah, absolutely.
Steven Dickens: So tell me a little bit more about… I think those five pillars that you talked about, those requirements you’re hearing from clients, those three product areas, I can see that resonating with clients. What sort of traction are you getting.
Lisa Schwab: So we do direct sales on one hand, but also work through the channel on the other hand. Big high to my friends from Sirius, CDW company now. We’re working very closely with them for more than seven years now.
Steven Dickens: Fantastic reseller, particularly here in the US.
Lisa Schwab: Yes, exactly. And we work with customers across all industries. Let me give you two examples. For retail, for example, the black Friday is the time of the year, and when your environment isn’t well-tuned, you might miss on online transaction, so basically you miss out on revenue, big chunks. And in the past, we’ve helped customers, especially in a retail place, to make sure that their systems are performing well so that they increase their revenue. On the other hand side, we do work with states in the US as well, because especially with the pandemic, unemployment claims coming in, systems totally out of control-
Steven Dickens: It’s been a dynamic world the last couple of years, right?
Lisa Schwab: Exactly right. So we’re working closely across all industries. And also maybe important to mention, customer size is no matter for us, because the solution really scales big time.
Steven Dickens: I think that cloud piece probably helps there, because you’re not having to run that on the box. You’re not constrained by what the physical constraints of the mainframe are. Scale it in the cloud, run it against the mainframe. It’s a perfect combination.
Lisa Schwab: Yeah. Our smallest customer, to give you an example, is a small little shop, one LPAR, 20 MSUs maybe, but we also work with managed service providers, and they have 200 LPARs, something like that. So we can really serve all our customers.
Steven Dickens: And is that because of the cloud that the scalability’s just not an issue?
Lisa Schwab: Yeah. It just scales. Yeah.
Steven Dickens: Perfect hybrid cloud story, right?
Lisa Schwab: Yes. Right.
Steven Dickens: So obviously SVA’s here at SHARE, what are the key takeaways? What are you wanting people to come and reach out and take away from their engagement with you here?
Lisa Schwab: As I mentioned before, I think the unique selling point for us is that we help you optimize your environment. It’s not a piece of software only. It comes with much more than that. And with the help of Sirius, for example, we have huge teams that can really support you in your everyday business on your journey to a perfect mainframe, let’s say, even though when you don’t have the resources in-house.
Steven Dickens: Well, I think that’s a fantastic way to finish. Your journey to the perfect mainframe. I think you’ve given us a great outro. My name’s Steven Dickens. You’ve been listening to the Futurum Tech Webcast brought you live from SHARE. We’ll see you next time. Thanks very much.
Steven Dickens is Vice President of Sales and Business Development and Senior Analyst at Futurum Research. Operating at the crossroads of technology and disruption, Steven engages with the world’s largest technology brands exploring new operating models and how they drive innovation and competitive edge for the enterprise. Read Full Bio.