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November 23, 2010

‘If you’re not in the Cloud, your apps will be outmoded in two years’: Q&A with David Akka, UK MD, Magic Software

Gary Flood talks to the UK MD of application platform and business integration specialist Magic Software


David Akka, Magic Software

I have been tracking your company on and off since the 1990s, David, when the focus was on 4Gs and codeless development. Obviously, times have changed; why don’t you start by telling us a bit more about Magic, the 2010 version?
Of course, would be a pleasure. What happened in last 12 years is we have moved to become a fully-fledged application platform that enables multi-channel deployment. What you’d recognise is that Magic is still all about capturing business rules and data capacity and allowing the deployment of business apps; and in the last few years, we have extended the platform to include all cloud-based technologies.

We are very much an Internet client with a widely distributed architecture product. That’s good, we argue, because it enables business processes to run in a hybrid model. The idea is you can basically take any application – like SAP – and extend its core capability to our app platform and deploy the functionality via web, client/server, mobile or cloud technology.

So you guys have got the cloud ‘religion,’ I take it?
[Laughs] Very much so, I’m afraid.

Well, give us a serious answer. Why cloud?
If you are an enterprise and cloud-enabled is not on your roadmap, the current technology solutions your business is using will be outmoded within the next two to four years. We are convinced it’s a significant architectural challenge in software terms and in response, a new breed of application platforms is beginning to emerge, which will allow businesses to keep their mission-critical information on premise, while deploying other less sensitive applications to it or out on mobiles, say.

So the cloud ‘changes everything’? Haven’t we heard that one before?
Yes and no. With cloud, the important factors to consider when building enterprise applications remain the same as they’ve ever been: cost, functionality, security, integration and reliability. What is changing is the way businesses want to manage their applications, with SaaS versions of their non-critical applications benefiting from flexible hosting options and mobile applications extending information and databases to mobile workforces.

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The idea is always with Magic, our story as it’s always consistently been; I think you’d agree, is that business functionality can be written once deployed on multiple channels without changing the code. With the cloud, you can therefore develop a solution to run on premise and deploy it over either a public or a private cloud and the data is automatically moved over.

OK, let’s put that in context and try and get a bit more on the Magic company story, please.
Financials first, I guess. We are listed on both NASDAQ and the Tel Aviv stock exchange. For the nine-months up to the end of September our total revenues were just over $63m compared to just $41m for the same period in 2009 and our operating income went up to $7m from around $4m, too.

We enjoy successful global partnerships with people like SAG, Oracle, IBM and, while in the UK we work with a lot of the major channel players, with recent deals signed with the likes of Admiral Consulting, Nexus 451, Forza Consulting and SMB Group, for example.

The main product is uniPAAS application platform and the iBOLT integration solution and in the UK in terms of customers from the Red Button on your Sky remote to scheduling of airtime and managing of IP rights, by advertisers, we’re there. 50% of all newspaper and magazines in UK get distributed with our technology, almost all advertising on London buses and underground are using us, and so on.

So let’s try and sum up: what is your message to the CBR readership about what Magic Software could offer them today?
If I take a step back and try and talk about the enterprise we see two kinds – small and big. We need to stop chucking money at hardware and take a smarter look at the data centre. Enterprises are using more and more Software as a Service from on-demand vendors and surely even the biggest cloud sceptics are starting to see more and more reliance on cloud services. But at the same time, there will always be a significant part of the company’s IP invested in IT assets maintained on premise.

I’d ask CIOs to look at technology that will help them work as effectively as they need to with both on-premise and cloud, as a result. Naturally, I say look at us, as our technology can bring it all together and create workflows with multiple deployment capabilities and bring colour and picture to create one story, one dashboard.

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