A Retrospective: My 10 Years at Kalido


Winston Chen

In two weeks, I will leave Kalido to take a one-year sabbatical. My wife and I together with our two children will live on a remote island in the northern part of Norway. The location admittedly is unusual. My wife is Norwegian, and we want our children to know the culture and language. Plus, we love the arctic: my wife and I met 11 years ago under the midnight sun. This is adventure!

While I look forward to my year off, leaving Kalido is hard. I have called Kalido my professional home for the last ten years, which is the majority of my career. When I look back, these years are filled with precious memories.

In the summer of 2001, I was the ETL architect for a data warehouse project at BP. Bruce Ottmann from Kalido came knocking, followed by Darren Peirce. By then, I had built several data warehouses the old way with ERWin, Informatica, and a lot of SQL. Despite my initial skepticism, I was blown away by what Bruce and Darren showed me. They showed me how data warehouses can be built at a higher level of abstraction, which allows the designer to have meaningful conversations with business users. And they built, right in front of my eyes, a warehouse with live data in two weeks. Kalido recruited me, and thus began my ten-year stint.

With no name recognition and no customers in the US, it was tough going in those early years. Mostly, it was hard to get opportunities to show what we have. But, when a customer is not burdened by the dogma and open to new ways of doing things, they are always astounded just like I was. 75% of POCs convert to sales, and that number has not varied much for the last 10 years. Over several years, everyone’s hard work paid off. Kalido’s US customer base grew at a rapid pace.

One component that makes Kalido such a powerful data warehouse platform is that we treat master data and reference data in special ways — with velvet gloves. Data warehouse veterans understand that master data is the key to a successful data warehouse. You do master data right, the rest is much easier. If you do master data wrong, nothing else can make up for it.

So powerful are the master data capabilities of our data warehouse platform that customers, including Shell and Unilever, started to use it for master data only! We saw the potential for an emerging and adjacent market segment and in 2005, we built our second standalone product, Kalido MDM. Kalido MDM would be tightly integrated with our data warehouse product, DIW, and together, we now call the bundle Kalido Information Engine.

Innovation is in Kalido’s DNA. In 2008, we started to ruminate on where the industry is likely to go next. With data becoming pervasive and data volume exploding, it was clear to us that the industry needed a new framework for data management. Historically, data management has been tightly bound to physical databases, and limited to a single repository, like an MDM hub or a data warehouse. When data is everywhere as it is today, that strategy no longer works. When companies have thousands of systems and databases containing critical and sensitive data, there needs to be another level of abstraction so we can set policies and rules for data in a consistent and cross-platform way. Thus, the concepts behind Data Governance Director were born.

And we delivered. Earlier this year, we released Data Governance Director with customers and wide-spread acclaim.

Kalido is now a three product company. Each product contains great insights and innovation. But what really sustains us are the great people we have. With great products and great people working in the most exciting sector in tech: data management, Kalido’s future is bright indeed.

It is my personal loss that I will not be directly involved in Kalido’s success, but I will contribute in a limited way. I will be a guest blogger, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue with you on various topics in data management.

 

 

One Response to “A Retrospective: My 10 Years at Kalido”

  1. David Levell September 8, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Good luck in your adventure Winston.

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