Dateline February 20th – Ettal, Germany
Pervasive just wrapped up its semi-annual international Distributor and OEM customer meeting at a nearly 700 year old monastery. In Ettal, a remote, small town in the Bavarian Alps. In winter, during a snow storm. The abbey is amazing. Started in 1330, the abbey grew and changed until a fire in 1744. It was then rebuilt in the Baroque style – lots of gold, amazing frescoes – just stunning. The brewery didn’t get going until 1609 which, if you’re checking, is 265 years before Budweiser was first brewed in the US – guess which tastes better? I can say from personal experience that after 400 years they’ve really gotten it right. Especially the dunkel. I’ve done considerable research in this area so I can say with some authority that Ettaler Kloster-Dunkle is world class dark beer. How to Locate Your Customer Meetings
The great thing about meeting with customers in a place that’s off the beaten track, has great beer, and strong religious overtones is that conversations quickly get pretty frank. Nobody’s leaving (it’s snowing), everybody’s being forthright (it’s a monastery) and everybody’s pretty vocal (the beer’s excellent). This type of environment is tremendously conducive to great communications – we tell you what we’re doing and you tell us what you like (and don’t like). For a marketing guy, this is exactly why we have customer meetings.
The group was made up of companies who were all long time Pervasive PSQL and Btrieve users – some for 15+ years. These folks know the product; they know Pervasive and all have strong opinions – just the kind of interaction we want. We did get clear feedback from both Distributors and OEMs on the product, support, and marketing. One of the stronger messages was that we need to do more to make the brand stand out. Make sure people know how good Pervasive is in the embedded application database space. Pervasive vs. The Big Guys
Successful brand marketing is sometimes a challenge since we’re competing against Sun, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM. All of which have tens of millions to spend on marketing and have PR teams bigger than my high school graduating class. All we’ve got for marketing is a few dollars, me and Zippy. But, like the Ettal monks, we’ve got something extra on our side - a lot of experience. (Ok, comparing 400 years of beer making with 25 years of software may be a stretch, but 25 years in the database business is a LONG time.) One of the benefits of longevity common to beer making and databases is financial stability - which is good for any brand.
Want an interesting comparison? Check out how well you would have done if you invested $1,000 in each of those companies (the database vendors, not the beer) at the beginning of 2008. Guess which was the best investment? Clue: this blog is written by the Pervasive Answer Man.
Results from $1,000 invested Jan 1, 2008 and sold Feb 24, 2009:
· JAVA ($683.45)
· MSFT ($511.36)
· ORCL ($211.98)
· IBM ($136.17)
· PVSW ($16.30)
Doesn’t matter how you look at it, in light of what’s been going on in the market the Pervasive investment with a mere 1.6% decline since 2008 is stellar performance. (Don’t you wish you could say that about your 401K?)What Low TCO Really Means
Other interesting feedback we got was on the stability of PSQL v10. We can tell from the decline in support calls that it’s a stable release, but it’s even better to have that conversation face to face with a customer. One of the OEM’s moved to PSQL v9 in 2005. From 2005 to 2009 this OEM made 4 support calls – that’s less than one per year. This is from a customer who stresses the database a lot (i.e. not just an end user installing the software but a developer who’s making PSQL work for their particular application). Since they’ve moved to v10 – no support calls at all. Zip, nada, zero, zilch. Nothing says low total cost of ownership like zero support calls.
Our competitors – notably Microsoft and IBM - are spending a lot of money explaining low TCO in terms of how many hours of database admin time their tools save. This might make sense in an enterprise database context (I’m being charitable here) but totally misses the point when you’re talking about embedded application databases – where most customers don’t have an IT department much less a database admin. What’s really needed is *no* database administrator, *no* support overhead, and *low* license fees. That’s what we mean when we say low TCO.
So, the Pervasive PSQL database is a lot like successful beer brewing monks: It might not be flashy, it might not make you rich, but it’s a solid product and won’t cost a fortune in the meantime. Can’t ask for more than that.