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Bull and Sinequa: Creating value through operational Big Data implementations
06 February 2014. Interview with Xavier Pornain, Vice-President of Sales at Sinequa by Dominique Grelet, Group Director, Alliances & Business Development at Bull.

Interview with Xavier Pornain, Vice-President of Sales at SinequaSinequa is a software company specializing in real-time Big Data search and analytics. The company has offices in Paris, Frankfurt and London and is planning to open US offices in 2014. Sinequa allows its customers to analyze large amounts of data from different data and information silos such as databases, document management systems, emails, and documents that can be found on Intranets and collaborative working platforms.

Dominique Grelet: Sinequa had an excellent year in 2013, with more than 40% growth and you are now expanding into new countries. What are the reasons for your success?

Xavier Pornain: Probably, the first reason is that although everybody is talking about Big Data now, we have already implemented projects that are up and running today. Organizations have been generating data in increasingly huge quantities, and for the past ten years we have been preparing for Big Data, even before the term 'Big Data' was coined. And now with dozens of large projects in production, we can demonstrate effective case studies with real ROI.

The second reason is that our platform is extremely scalable, with a high-performance architecture.

And the third reason comes from one of the biggest challenges in the field of Big Data: how to deal with unstructured data? Sinequa has spent more than 20 years of R&D to provide a platform that carried out semantic analysis in many languages, without any compromise on scalability.

DG: So does that mean that you can make sense of a string of characters in a document or on an intranet site, regardless of the language?

XP: Yes, that's right. And this is fundamental because that is how we extract the value from enterprise data. As you may know, in lots of large organizations, a huge amount of data remains unexploited. Only 5-10% of the information is easily accessible by employees. This way, we're transforming data into value for organizations.

DG: What additional value is created when we combine Bull and Sinequa's products and expertise?

XP: There are three major benefits that our customers can get from our collaboration.

  • Firstly, Bull provides high-end infrastructure, and this is hugely valuable, as real-time Big Data search requires high-end servers and storage.
  • Secondly, Bull brings invaluable expertise in completing successfully integration projects around the Sinequa case studies.
  • Thirdly, we can add business value to organizations that have implemented private Clouds or hosted information systems.

DG: Speaking of the high-end infrastructure? Sinequa carried out some tests on bullion servers that multiplied performance by a factor of up to 100. What does this performance mean for your customers?

XP: Thanks to bullion, we now have the ability to deploy our software platform at an enterprise level and achieve performance beyond all expectations. We indexed over 100 billion records and 1 billion documents on one single server!
This means we now need about 40 times fewer servers than if we used commodity servers. Some Big Data projects that were not possible before, due to prohibitive infrastructure costs, are now possible. Bull solved the problem for us and for our customers!

DG: In which specific situations do customers benefit from bullion?

XP: Well, for example, for a large telecoms provider, we provide a real-time 360 view of their customer activity: contracts they had signed, phone calls they made, emails they wrote, and product information, which altogether represents billions of pieces of information.

Before implementing Sinequa, the call center agent had to switch between six or eight different applications to get a complete view of the customer. They also had to wait 10 to 15 seconds for the information to appear on their screen. Because our solution aggregates all the information on a single screen in less than a second, the average time per call is reduced by 40 seconds: this is saving them about ?60 million a year!

With bullion, we have an affordable infrastructure that can handle this huge volume of data and user queries. So to sum up, the high-performance bullion infrastructure provided by Bull has both increased the ROI and reduced response times.

DG: How are Sinequa and Bull co-operating on the management of integration projects?

XP: Search is an on-going project. We deal with all the information created by an organization. The needs for information access are changing all the time. Search is an increasingly critical component of a modern IT architecture. As such, Bull is ideally positioned to integrate and customize our technology for large organizations, because you have expertise in all the components of a complex information system.

DG: What about hosted or private Cloud systems?

XP: All major organizations have applications containing millions of emails and documents, either hosted in a private Cloud or one provided by Bull. This data is an asset, and can be a record of a company's liability or a proof that the organization is compliant with regulations. That's an essential prerequisite in finance, utilities, the pharmaceutical industry and all regulated sectors.
Plugging our platform into those existing applications gives these organizations an extremely efficient way to dig into their apps and emails.

DG: Actually, what you describe can also apply to any organization, whatever their IT architecture or IS.

XP: You're right, and this is just an example, but you can definitely add value to customers, build new applications, modernize their information system and cut operating costs with the Sinequa platform.

DG: So, to sum up, what do you see as the greatest challenges facing our customers who are moving towards Big Data?

XP: Quite simply, we are just at the beginning of the Big Data journey. The amount of data is currently exploding, in a wide variety of formats and sources. Understanding this data, analyzing it and delivering Big Data projects in a matter of months not years is key. Scalability, speed and security are, and will increasingly be, major issues. And there are key ingredients that you have to master in order to ensure a successful journey: complex architectures, real-time infrastructures, massive device management, HPC, Massively Parallel Processing, in-memory analytics, cyber-security, storage, high-speed networking and complex algorithms.

And that's why I believe that Sinequa and Bull together can make Big Data work? on any scale. There are great stories that we can put together with our customers, to unlock the value of enterprise data.