Hyderabad: The prevailing calm and peace at the plush offices of Sierra Atlantic Software's facility in the city is deceptive. Make no mistake, the centre is a hive of activity and the work done here caters to companies spread over the US, UK and Europe.
This year Sierra Atlantic Software, the Indian subsidiary of US-based Sierra Atlantic Inc, completes 10 years of operations, having been set up when offshoring was a relatively new word in business lexicon.
Today, Sierra Atlantic leverages its offshore centre in Hyderabad, India, to provide a full portfolio of enterprise application management services, from designing and building to deploying, integrating and managing applications in areas like manufacturing, process manufacturing and the financial segments to a whole host of companies in the US, UK and Europe.
Sarath Sura, the unassuming managing director of the Indian subsidiary, says, "Sierra Atlantic began operations in 1993-94 to provide enterprise application services when the word BPO was not even thought of. In fact, though Sierra is an offshore company the work we do is in the realm of high-end enterprise applications."
Seventy per cent of the company's clients are in the US while the rest are spread over the UK and Europe. India at present does not figure in its plans as the market here is small but a beginning is being made and things should start happening here in the next two to three years as a number of IT companies are setting up their facilities here, he says.
The centre which began by employing less than 100 people now has more than 650 people on its rolls, most of them engineers and systems professionals, and the company plans to have more than a 1,000 people on its rolls by the end of next year.
Sura reveals that Sierra Atlantic employs a number of chemical and mechanical engineers since many of the projects undertaken by the company are in process engineering and manufacturing "for which it is essential to have engineers from the concerned industry."
Sura says, "Sierra Atlantic has extensive R&D relationships with enterprise software leaders - Oracle, SAP, PeopleSoft and Siebel. We are Oracle's most preferred integration partners. We also provide consulting, implementation and integration services around PeopleSoft's PIPs (PeopleSoft Integration Packs)."
An Oracle-certified partner, Sierra Atlantic has a strategic relationship with Oracle, covering engineering, implementation and support activities, nearly since Sierra Atlantic's inception. This provides the company with a skilled resource base to effectively execute Oracle application implementations on time and under budget to a global customer base.
Last year Sierra Atlantic entered into partnership with PeopleSoft to deliver packaged integration solutions called Business Process Integration Packs (PIPs) that addressed customer demand for pre-packaged integration solutions between PeopleSoft and other ERP applications (SAP and Oracle). Each PIP automates a specific business process between PeopleSoft and SAP or Oracle, with dramatically lower costs, complexity and risks than traditional custom integration methods.
The PIPs are built at Sierra Atlantic's Global Development Center at Hyderabad. Now Sierra Atlantic is PeopleSoft's most preferred and qualified provider of installation and implementation services for the PIPs worldwide, given the domain expertise in PeopleSoft, SAP and Oracle integration.
This year Sierra Atlantic expanded its Universal Application Network (UAN) Center of Excellence at Hyderabad, which specialises in building, porting, testing, and deploying UAN-compliant business integration applications leveraging the company's close research and development relationship with Siebel Systems. In addition, the Centre of Excellence supports a working lab for configuring, building, testing and validating integration applications for Siebel customers.
The centre is expanding to include remote configuration and technical support teams that support the entire UAN customer base to provide customers with the ability to quickly and cost-effectively integrate Siebel Systems products with other enterprise applications using UAN.
The company's UAN Center of Excellence was established in early 2003 and unifies global resources across Hyderabad, India and Fremont, California, and employs approximately 200 professionals, ranging from project managers to software architects and subject matter experts in various industry verticals, including high-tech manufacturing, communications and financial services.
The company entered the Asia-Pacific market in 2001, offering a broad range of services to users of the Oracle E-Business Suite, including implementation, upgrades, customisation, and integration services.
He adds, "We have worked on and have good expertise in Siebel's Universal Applications Network (UAN). Our strength has been our ability to build and maintain trust with these companies over time. This is important to us and we value the trust our partners repose in us."
Sierra Atlantic's India Development Centre has grown from 181 employees in 2002 to its current strength of over 500 and is growing. "We have always been strongly focused on technology and IP innovation. This, alongwith our niche focus on the enterprise applications space, has helped us move forward. This has been aided by companies focusing on offshore outsourcing activities."
Sura says, "Our India development centre is the focal point of all development, delivery and a vital part of our operational model. We have about 50 customers, 70 per cent of whom are based in the US while the rest are in Europe and the UK."
The company recently began offering software-testing services at its facility in Hyderabad, called the interoperability lab. The lab provides multi-platform offshore testing services to hardware and software product developers across the globe.
The lab provides low-cost testing services that enable software and hardware vendors to certify their products prior to launch and allows enterprises to test products before deployment by end-users.
Sura says, "While it is true that companies have their own labs, Sierra Atlantic's offerings are comprehensive, including functionality, performance, scaleability, compatibility and connectivity testing. Also we help our clients to save substantial costs to test their products' interoperability with multiple platforms," he adds.
He reveals that the facility is the first independent third-party lab that has fully configured enterprise applications, middleware, hardware and software platforms. Also the interoperability lab helps companies that do not have access to testing environments by easily surfacing and resolving software issues before going into production, he added.
Companies planning software product development think of Sierra Atlantic not only for interoperability testing but also for new product development, integration product development, quality assurance, testing, and maintenance and support, he added.
With 50 customers, the company is targeting software firms, manufacturing firms and enterprise application companies. The software testing services business is expected to generate at least 15-25 per cent of the company's total revenues.
The company's core business of enterprise application implementation, integration and related services currently accounts for about 75 per cent of its revenue, with the balance coming from product development for enterprise application vendors.