By Merve Soner, SaaS Business Lead at AWS
Exasol is an AWS Data and Analytics Competency Partner that provides a high performance in-memory analytics database to give organizations the power to transform how they work with data and turn it into value faster, easier, and more cost effectively.
Recognized in 2021 as an AWS Technology Partner of the Year (DACH), Exasol utilizes this speed to make business intelligence solutions faster and easier to use, unify disparate data sources, and deliver machine learning prediction and automation directly in the database.
Exasol has been working with AWS SaaS Factory on delivering their analytics database through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model and navigating technical and business decisions for launch and beyond.
Peter Jackson, Chief Data and Analytics Officer at Exasol, answered our questions to share insights on their journey and advice for organizations who are in the process of building SaaS on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Q&A with Exasol
AWS SaaS Factory: Can you tell us about your role at Exasol?
Peter Jackson: I joined the leadership team at Exasol as Chief Data and Analytics Officer in March 2021. I help Exasol customers make the most of its high-performance in-memory analytics database to accelerate their innovation journey. I also work closely with the product and R&D team to help shape Exasol’s roadmap.
AWS SaaS Factory: What motivated Exasol to move to SaaS?
Peter Jackson: At Exasol, customer obsession is at the heart of our core values and we want to be able to match the ambition of our customers. They need to gain insights quickly with nothing to deploy or manage. They need to optimize costs and scale quickly while paying only for what they use. In addition, they should be able to track usage and security settings with confidence. It was that drive for continuous improvement that led us to start our SaaS journey.
AWS SaaS Factory: How do customers get started on Exasol, and what are the key benefits?
Peter Jackson: Customers can sign up for an account at cloud.exasol.com and create a database in an AWS region of their choice, with a compute cluster ranging in size from 8 VCPU / 64 GB RAM to 384 VCPU / 3 TB RAM. Once the database setup is complete, customers can load data and run queries using their tool of choice or Exasol’s web-based SQL editor.
Key customer benefits of the new Exasol SaaS include:
- Ease of use and choice with a frictionless onboarding.
- Ability to experience Exasol’s fastest analytics performance in minutes, without any heavy lifting.
- No infrastructure or database software maintenance required.
- Elasticity and hyper scalability.
- Cost efficiency, Amazon S3-based data storage automatically scales up and down based on your data volume.
- Variable, pay-as-you-go pricing.
AWS SaaS Factory: How is Exasol leveraging AWS in new and innovative ways?
Peter Jackson: AWS gives us the ideal platform to build out our SaaS solution by allowing us to separate the compute from the storage. This allows us to scale the compute and storage independently, and optimize for the compute costs and workloads of our customers.
Being an in-memory database, the ability to seamlessly increase or decrease our memory footprint is key. AWS provides the ability to scale vertically (bigger clusters) or scale horizontally (multiple concurrent clusters) to meet our needs. Furthermore, Exasol is not limited by the amount of memory available. This means we need to seamlessly manage hot and cold data between Amazon S3, local SSD, and RAM. AWS provides the infrastructure to do that without taking a performance hit.
To provide an end-to-end user experience for our customers, Exasol provides integration with AWS services. Leveraging Exasol Virtual Schemas (as well as AWS Glue), we can load data from many AWS sources (Amazon S3, Amazon DynamoDB, Amazon Kinesis, Amazon Aurora, Amazon RDS, Amazon Redshift, Amazon EMR, and Amazon Athena).
Furthermore, customers can train an Amazon SageMaker model with Exasol data and use the trained model within Exasol to make predictions for their data using SQL.
AWS SaaS Factory: What were the key challenges in your transformation to a SaaS delivery model?
Peter Jackson: Embracing an as-a-service delivery model required a true transformation of the way we operate. Instead of fitting the SaaS model into our current processes, we had to rethink our operational model altogether. We redefined our personas and customer journey to provide a frictionless self-service onboarding experience and ensure customer success.
The new delivery model required us to manage a cultural shift with the organization, from defining how different teams collaborate to how we incentivize our sales team. Coming up with a compelling monetization strategy to support our new offering was another challenge we faced.
AWS SaaS Factory: Describe the decisions you’ve made and how SaaS Factory supported these efforts?
Peter Jackson: The SaaS Factory team provided invaluable insight and support that was critical in getting us to where we are today. They helped shape some of the critical decisions we have made as part of our journey, including designing a frictionless customer experience, defining the best cost structure for our pricing strategy and business model, and exploring various alternatives for sales incentives and enablement.
Whether it was advice on SaaS business best practices, architectural reviews or help in many other areas, the partnership has kept driving us forward.
AWS SaaS Factory: Can you tell us how APN programs have helped Exasol accelerate your customers’ cloud journey?
Peter Jackson: The ISV Workload Migration Program has enabled us to help existing Exasol on-premises customers to move their Exasol software and workloads to the AWS Cloud. As part of the program, we are able to receive AWS credits resulting from the migration, which we use for building customer PoCs and our SaaS trials and development. Some of our customers have completely shifted from on-premises to AWS.
The ISV Accelerate Program helped us to engage with AWS sellers in new regions such as North America, where we don’t yet have the customer base to provide a lot of references. AWS sellers typically are more open to work with ISV Accelerate Partners, since they know these partners are top selected AWS Partners globally. It simply gives Exasol another form of credibility to effectively engage with AWS sellers and AWS customers.
Put simply, the combination of working with the AWS SaaS Factory team and our involvement in the AWS ISV Accelerate and AWS Workload Migration Programs has allowed us to accelerate our customers’ move to the cloud. That’s a partnership that really makes a difference.
AWS SaaS Factory: What would you tell others planning to build a SaaS solution on AWS?
Peter Jackson: Consider your product go-to-market strategy and the key features that your product/solution will provide to your customers. AWS is a robust platform that offers multiple services that can help you enhance your product. Make sure you explore these options and work with AWS SaaS Factory team to find out how you can leverage them.
Exasol’s SaaS Analytics Database Solution (2:10)
In this video, Exasol shares insights on the journey to build and launch a high-performance SaaS analytics database solution on AWS.
Hear from Peter Jackson, Exasol’s Chief Data and Analytics Officer, on how they leveraged the AWS SaaS Factory to launch a new SaaS offering and provide customers with a high-performance in-memory analytics database in a pay-as-you-go model that accelerates time-to-market.
About AWS SaaS Factory
AWS SaaS Factory helps organizations at any stage of the SaaS journey. Whether looking to build new products, migrate existing applications, or optimize SaaS solutions on AWS, we can help. Visit the AWS SaaS Factory Insights Hub to discover more technical and business content and best practices.
SaaS builders are encouraged to reach out to their account representative to inquire about engagement models and to work with the AWS SaaS Factory team.
Sign up to stay informed about the latest SaaS on AWS news, resources, and events.
Exasol – AWS Partner Spotlight
Exasol is an AWS Competency Partner that provides a high performance in-memory analytics database to give organizations the power to transform how they work with data.
*Already worked with Exasol? Rate the Partner
*To review an AWS Partner, you must be a customer that has worked with them directly on a project.