The Challenge: Providing a Total Solution Without The Operational Overhead
Since their founding in 1998, MetraTech has seen rapid growth in cloud, communications and media, financial services, and transportation and energy marketplace. The company is unique in its ability to offer multiple billing options to customers including on-premise (term or perpetual license) or managed service (managed infrastructure and billing operations) with its MetraNet offering and a turnkey SaaS solution with Metanga. It was critical for Metanga to provide a turnkey quote-to-cash offering that includes integrations with CRM and financial applications.
“If we talk to 10 customers, all 10 could have a different financial application that they need Metanga to connect to,” explains Mario DeSousa SaaS Architect at MetraTech. “Without providing integrations to these third party systems, we’re aren’t even considered by customers- we’re not even in the game.”
As customers evaluated Metanga for their billing application, MetraTech learned that the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the customer not only included the cost for their application, but also the additional resources it would take to get it up and running in their environment. If the customer chose Metanga, and the integrations were not part of the service, the customer would also need to pay for a third party to help wire the systems together, or worse, hire an internal resource to custom code the integration.
“If we aren’t providing those natural touch points around our application, then the cost is placed on the customer” explains Jason Mondanaro Director of Product Management at MetraTech. “That highly customized model, and additional cost, goes completely against the promise of SaaS.”
The natural touch points to Metanga include existing CRM and accounting applications such as Salesforce.com, QuickBooks, Intacct, NetSuite, and MS Dynamics. Without the integration included as part of the Metanga service, the total cost of ownership increased significantly and put the Metanga service at risk for being out of reach for prospective customers.
Quick Custom Coding Didn’t Allow MetraTech to Scale
For one of their first customers, Metanga developed an integration to an existing accounting application using their internal engineering team. After developing custom code, they discovered a long tail of operational costs, as they not only had to build the integration, but were on the hook to maintain and support it over time.
"We developed an integration for one of our first customers; it was a custom integration to their platform that we operated on their behalf. Not only did it force us to allocate a full time engineer to the project, but as a result we inherited all the headaches that went along with it. We did it for expediency reasons but ongoing, realized this was one of the areas where we could really benefit from a partnership.” explains Mondanaro.
Although the Metanga team was able to deliver against the customers’ requirements, the team quickly learned that this approach would not allow them to scale, “From an operational standpoint we would've had to develop our own integration platform, ELT tool, or worse continue developing one off integrations. We would be responsible for owning and running those integrations, and we’d have to change our SLA's. I wasn't willing to commit our resources to that" explains Mondanaro.
The previous integration tool that Metanga used was software based, which presented additional technical challenges, “We are a Windows Azure platform application, and the integration software that we used required a java unix platform. That forced us to spin up a new instance of Amazon AWS in order to make Metanga connect to the customers on premise application. This was an absolute nightmare for us to maintain" explains Mondanaro.
Although MetraTech has experienced developers on hand who could, if needed, build custom integrations, Jason had to decide what development work fit within their core competency and which areas they should look to expand their product through partnerships.
“Having developed and deployed Enterprise software applications for many years, we have the capability in house to custom code these integrations, but I had to ask myself if that was really the business we wanted to be in” explains Mondanaro. “Every third party application has a steep learning curve- you have to learn the API, develop to it and test and refine your code, and then support it. At the end of the day I want my team focused on building a best of breed billing application, not integrations. That’s when we decided that we needed to leverage a partner to round out this part of our solution.”
The Solution: Repeatable Integration Apps Built & Managed on CloudHub
MetraTech’s Metanga team needed a technology platform and partner to help them meet customer requirements, that would also allow them to scale as their business changed. When searching for a SaaS integration partner, proven success, scalability and a library of prebuilt connectivity played a key role in their decision making process.
“I first discovered MuleSoft before they had CloudHub, when they were the open source Mule ESB company. Knowing their technology originated from an open source background gave me the confidence that integration platform as a service (iPaaS) technology was tried and tested against real life, community requirements. We considered a number of integration vendors and the MuleSoft integration app model appealed to us more over any other options. It had the highest value, and the best price” explains Mondanaro.
As a MuleSoft SaaS partner, MetraTech received five accounting integration applications for Metanga. These integration applications are a combination of a connector for Metanga, a connector for the third party billing applications, and a predefined data flow for information between the applications.
“What appealed to us the most was once we had a connector for Metanga into CloudHub, and the pre-built data flow of the integration app, we would be able to swap the third party applications in an out as our customers needed” explains Mondanaro. “MuleSoft had prebuilt connectivity to the top financial applications our customers requested, in addition to a number of other applications we thought we may need in the long run.”
Having seen the integration app working across multiple applications, MetraTech is looking forward to the response from prospective customers.
“The integration app works so smoothly. It’s something I’ve never seen before. Metanga simultaneously synchronizes data across three applications, NetSuite, QuickBooks Online and Intacct. When a change was made in Metanga all those changes were made are reflected in the other systems at the same time. It’s just amazing.”
As a result of the SaaS partnership with MuleSoft, MetraTech is able to focus their engineering resources on innovating the Metanga billing e-commerce engine, and has reduced objections in their sales cycles.
“Just like our customers who are looking to specialize their business and not focus on billing, we want our engineers to specialize on building a billing solution, not connecting third party applications together” explains Mondanaro. “Customers need an overall solution, and anything we can do to reduce time to market and reduce implementation by providing the natural touch points through packaged integrations we will. Unless you have a boxed or pre-packaged format for these integrations, you’re bound to slow down the adoption of your platform and increase your costs.”