Inforbix is a startup co-founded by my good friend Oleg Shilovitsky who likes to explain it as “Google for product data in a manufacturing company“. So you might think of it as an enterprise search engine like Exalead. I did too. That changed after I sat down with Oleg at COFES 2011 and understood what Inforbix was really about.
The best way to explain something is to use an example. Say there is an manufacturer that designs and manufactures highly customizable electrical components. The company grew organically and now their product data is spread across three different systems. Now suppose someone in the company gets a call from a customer about a certain part. This is what happens. The part number given by the customer is fed into Oracle in order to get the internal identification number. That is then fed into the PDM system to get the file name of the drawing of the part. Finally the file is located on the server and opened in the CAD system to process the request further.
Now here is the thing. If the electrical manufacturer decided to put their house in order by implementing a PLM system, all these different sets of data would need to be brought under one roof. This would involve a significant amount of work as well as cost in the name of “PLM implementation”. Inforbix takes a totally different approach. Instead of creating a completely new box to store and manage a company’s data the idea is to let the data reside at its existing location and in its existing form and simply index it in the cloud, quite similar to how a search engine lets your web pages reside on your server maintains an index at its own location.
Just like search engines, Inforbix has crawlers that crawl through the files and databases in different systems and creates semantic relationships between them. The beauty of this is that this is done automatically without any human intervention and hence cost. After you hook things up you are good to start using the system in a matter of hours.
The tag line of Inforbix is “Product Data Applications”. I just explained to you one such application aptly called “Search”. It looks like this.
There is another application called “Tables”. If you are familiar with databases then you consider the Tables application to be similar to views, wherein fields in different tables are assembled together to view as one spreadsheet. Other applications that are being requested are applications to find duplicate data, compare data, etc.
I asked Oleg about his business model. He replied that it would be something like the freemium model in which some applications would be free while the others would be available at a price. Companies can sign up for their beta program. All that Inforbix needs to get you started is 2 GB of your sample data and a couple of days.
Inforbix was bootstrapped by Oleg and his partner Anatoly and has its entire development team of 35 developers based in Russia. The target audience is companies who have not implemented PDM, PLM or ERP as well as those who have implemented different systems.
It is important to note that Inforbix works with whatever it is that you have. More importantly, you can uproot it out just as easily as you planted it in because your data is not moved around at all.