Have you ever wondered what it takes for a company with over $1 Billion in yearly revenue to build their own CPQ system? Join us as our host Sandeep Jain meets with Parag Kulkarni, the SVP of SaaS Engineering at Nutanix to discuss everything from Cricket to the challenges companies with large SKU’s face when implementing and maintaining CPQ platforms.
Hi. Welcome to the 3rd episode of “The Enterprise Monetization” podcast. And this is your host, Sandeep Jain. In this podcast, we invite thought leaders and practitioners from enterprise monetization space that is CPQ billing revenue operations, so that you can learn about challenges, opportunities, and best practices in enterprise monetization. Today, our guest is Parag Kulkarni. Parag is SVP of SaaS applications at Nutanix. Previously, he was at companies such as Juniper and Netscreen. And Parag and I have talked about this subject of CPQ, I guess, a couple of years ago when I was doing research in this space. So it's great to talk to you again, Parag, and welcome to the show.
Thank you, Sandeep. Pleasure to be here.
Great. So Parag, before we begin, can you share a fun fact about yourself with audience?
Oh, okay. Fun fact, how about this? I'm a big cricket fan. Now, most people from India are big cricket fans, so nothing new there. But I did play cricket a lot. And there was a time when I was young, there was a conscious choice made whether I continue studying or play cricket. So I played cricket from the university level, I played under 16 Cricket. And interestingly, I actually played cricket with some of the folks at the junior level who ultimately ended up going and representing India. So fun fact, that's my fun fact.
So looking back, do you regret not going into that direction versus working into the heart tech or whatever the world?
No, not really. Because you know, those were you know, I'm talking about 90s when there was no IPL. So cricket, as most cricketers were not making any money. So I think my parents did the right thing of nudging me towards or away from Cricket, is how it was.
Okay. So Parag, can you talk more about your journey into Nutanix and your professional background for the audience?
Absolutely, absolutely. So, I come from a core engineering background, started my career actually writing some code for a subsidiary of British Telecom in India. So I was actually writing hard code telecom based code, then came over to the US in the late 90s. Did, again, product engineering work worked with the Big Five at that time, the Deloitte, Arthur, Andersen, Accenture and so on, on various implementations and then when I got tired of traveling, ended up taking a role more in the valley so that I didn't have to travel. And that started my journey to Netscreen on to Juniper, then at Nutanix, where I've been, you know, I joined Nutanix in late 2013, when it was a true startup like 250 to 275 people, have been there since for almost seven and a half years. And I also have done a lot of different things as the company has grown. Well, today, I'm responsible for SaaS engineering, which is a huge umbrella that includes three distinct at the same time interconnected teams where one of my team builds engineering applications, engineering SaaS application, so whether it's billing, identity access management, collection of data, sizing, second team that is more responsible around the data engineering, data analytics, data science. And the third team, which is not necessarily a more traditional structure but more unique to Nutanix, or some of the more modern companies is a team that actually is responsible for business applications. So three teams that kind of are distinct, at the same time interconnected and work on, you know, end to end initiatives at Nutanix.
Great. And Parag, just can you describe quickly what Nutanix does for people who may not be aware, which I think won't be the case? But just, can you quickly describe that?
So Nutanix is in the hybrid cloud infrastructure space, I'd say we are one of the leaders who make it easy to deploy applications on-prem as well as in the cloud and manage them very easily. One of our taglines is making cloud invisible. So it doesn't matter where your apps are running. It should be super easy, super simple to run this app. So in the business of hybrid cloud infrastructure, that will be the easiest way to describe Nutanix.
Understood. And since we are, this podcast is about monetization or Quote-to-Cash. Could we start from the basics like, Nutanix is a public company now. So like, how much roughly, I think, revenues is 1 billion plus, I don't know the exact number, but like, how much is the revenue? What are your channels for selling? And, are there customers like SMBs, big enterprises, individuals, like can you give us a sense about your customers and your business?
Yeah, your revenue numbers are correct. We are you know about $1 billion, and growing. In terms of our customers, they're spread around the world. So we have customers around the world. And it's a good cross section of customers. We have large enterprises, we have federal customers. We also have smaller companies who are trying things out in terms of hybrid infrastructure. So it's a large cross section of customers, I wouldn't actually call out any specific customer names, but it's literally the who's in who, in terms of the Fortune 500, you can go to our website at nutanix.com. And look up, you know, case studies, pretty much in every possible industry, where customers are leveraging Nutanix products, whether it is you know, running their apps on-prem, various databases on-prem, whether it is VDI, whether it is applications that span public and private clouds, so all kinds of different combinations of customers. In terms of history of Nutanix, we started, we actually invented a space called “Hyper Converged Infrastructure”. And then over time grew, and that kind of moved from hyper converged infrastructure to hybrid cloud infrastructure. It's still HCI, but hybrid cloud infrastructure. Also, as a company, we started selling appliances. So basically a hardware box, and a software, all bundled together sold with a perpetual license. And then over time, moved more to becoming a software company that our software would run on most major server platforms in the market. And then now moving from just being a software company to becoming more of a subscription company, where we sell term based contracts. We also do usage based contracts, and so on. So combination of journey, not very different from, you know, some of the companies like Adobe, where we've gone from an appliance to software to now, almost competing a journey of towards becoming a subscription company. So hopefully that answered your question about Nutanix.
Yes. And a few more follow ups here, how many SKU’s roughly in your catalog, is it like 100s or 1000s?
Now, we are not the 100s, we are the 1000s SKU’s kind of company. And I know where you're going with this question. And part of that is just because our journey, as we moved from being an appliance based company, where we did configure to order so naturally more SKU’s and more combinations to becoming a software to a subscription company, this is usually a transition. It's not like a flip of a switch, where you know, you still keep the old stuff going, and then you slowly phase that out while you put what you want. So we are in the 1000s, not in the 100s. But also we have conscious, you know, projects or conscious effort that we put in to reduce simplify our SKU structure, make it simpler and so on. But yes, SKU sprawl is a problem. Not very different from most companies in this space.
Got it. And currencies that you transact, and is that USD, or is it more than that?
Now, it's USD plus, we also have capability to transact in Euros. We actually have done some deals in the Korean Won. So we are set to do multi-currency where needed, specifically in Asia Pac and so on. But most of our businesses in the USD.
Got it. And can you talk about different sales channels? I know the direct sales is going to be pretty heavy for you, you will have a partner sales as well. But do you have self-serve? Do you sell Nutanix stuff on the marketplaces like AWS or GCP?
So interesting question. So direct is not our primary model. Actually, we are more traditional Silicon Valley, kind of clear where most of our business is through the channel. So we work with channel partners, the largest ease and resell partners value added reseller, so most of our business actually goes through the channel. But as we move towards subscription, we've also built capabilities to do online selling, so online direct selling, whether it is usage based selling and so on. So that's really how we ended up doing mosaic. So primarily channel model, some direct sales. But again, direct sales is not necessarily the focus. And then in terms of the second part of the question, whether we have Nutanix on in the marketplace for some of the public cloud claims. So we actually have an offering that works on AWS, where you can actually spin up Nutanix operating system or Nutanix software on AWS. We are working closely with AWS on some of the marketplace integration and the same thing with Azure. So, our first two real offerings are on AWS and Azure and more to come later.
Understood. And you said that your business goes through the channel but you do have direct sales employed by Nutanix, right? Like a lot of sales?
So yeah, so we do have a large sales team, if that's what you mean by direct sales. But our large sales team actually works very closely with our partners in terms of selling. So the actual sale happens through the channel model. But we have a pretty large sales force that works hand in hand with our channel partners to actually facilitate the sales and give the solutions, give the right solutions to our customers and so on.
Understood. I think it was the same model at Cisco as well, where Cisco has a large direct Salesforce, they work with our end customers for the fulfillment of the selling is done through a channel partner. So it's a deal that is…?
That's correct. That's the reason I said it's, I think, more of a standard you know, more traditional Silicon Valley model, the Cisco's and, you know, the Junipers, I was at Juniper, they did well, something very similar. And then there will always be exceptions, some really large customers where you could go direct, but the primary business goes through the channel. And naturally now as you know, as companies move more towards subscription, there is this whole digital channel where you can do some direct stuff, but channel plays a very big role in this.
Got it. And so before we go into the Quote-to-Cash systems, I've seen the Quote-to-Cash system ownership is maintained typically by the IT team. But looks like you guys are a separate engineering team, you don't report into IT, or like how's they are? Can you talk about how your Quote-to-Cash is structured? Because that seems to be somewhat unique than what I've seen in the industry?
I think you're correct, where you said that most of the Quote-to-Cash Systems generally are part of an IT Business Application organization, pretty much. But at Nutanix, we are different, pretty much from day one. We had this model where many of these systems are part of SaaS engineering. And you know, that was I think, I would give the credit to founder and CEO Dheeraj who actually set it up, you know, had the foresight to actually set it up that way. And then over time, I've seen the advantage of that, because that allows us to use some core engineering capabilities to solve Quote-to-Cash business problems, which is not very common, right, I could use some of my data science engineers to build capabilities into our quoting system, as an example, where we could drive cross sell upsell, which is a little unique in that sense. So we are set up that way. It's all whether it is the engineering teams, whether it is the business applications, teams are all part of the larger SaaS engineering umbrella. And they kind of complement each other and help each other, ultimately to solve business problems.
Interesting. And I'm assuming since you're engineering, and not IT, the budget allocation happens on those axes as well?
Yes, it does. So we ended up using some R&D budget that helps with us. So budget is a little weird, I wouldn't even try to explain it to you here. But it is not the traditional GNA budget. That is an R&D budget, there's a GNA budget, and we do build quite a few things. We are a very, you know, API centric kind of SaaS engineering team, where, for example, you could call our quoting system from outside, you know, and so on. So yes, it's a mix. But yes, there are advantages to having a structure like this. I know it looks a little non-traditional. But at least based on what I've seen, I have you know, many of the recent companies are now moving to a similar kind of model, mostly tech companies who have the capability to build things like the Facebook and the Google. I think even they do a similar kind of model.
Though, you're absolutely right. This is something that I'm seeing more and more on a regular basis. I've also seen people hiring engineers and product managers in IT organization, but that was with a couple of companies only. So it's getting more engineering focus.
It also helps with hiring actually, hiring the right skill sets. So for example, we are a Kafka user, much easier hiring engineers who can work on Kafka within the engineering organization, that's just how it is.
Understood. Cool. So let's get to the details on the systems now. So for each of these different channels, you said, you have a self-serve, there is partners coming into your Quote-to-Cash. Can you talk about the systems that power your Quote-to-Cash pipeline?
Yeah, absolutely. So like I said, we are a combination of, you know, build and buy. Our ERP and CRM stack was quite traditional. So we are a big Salesforce user. Our ERP is NetSuite. But what we have done over time, we build a lot of things around CRM and ERP. So for example, we build our own CPQ, which is, again, not the most common thing. We have our own billing platform where we do use Zuora, but also have built a lot of capability around it. So if I look at our Quote-to-Cash infrastructure, it's a lot of homegrown applications, SaaS application that are used by our customers and partners, whether it is for sizing up information, whether it is CPQ, working complementary to more of the traditional applications like in Salesforce or NetSuite.
Oh, I see. And what made you build your own CPQ? Like in the markets, the CPQs available in the market, were they not sufficient, or would it require more customization to what you guys wanted?
So we were actually using a CPQ from one of the larger vendors in the market. And we were one of their early customers. But then, as our business model changed, and as we started going from more of an appliance to software to a subscription kind of company, we very quickly realized that it was very difficult to actually, you know, use that same system to support multiple business models, it just became extremely inflexible where to roll things out. Plus, we had this vision where we wanted our CPQ not just for creating quotes, we actually wanted it to be an asset to Salesforce. We actually wanted it to be where we could use machine learning, we could use historical inputs to drive cross sell upsell, and so on, which wasn't going to be possible using an off the shelf CPQ. So that's where we really wanted to, you know, build something that could really reduce the friction for our sales team. And make it much more easier to drive, I guess, at cross sell upsell, drive down, discounts, provide some indicators to our sales teams, and so on.
Got it. Great Parag, so some follow ups on that. So now, since that the quoting or the CPQ has been rebuilt, what are the biggest advantages that you or the sales team have seen, versus what you guys had earlier?
So one of the biggest advantages is just how fast we can go, you know, Nutanix is a company that's big time into, you know, if you had to say, what do we really care about is agility. You know, changing business models quickly, changing things, the fact that we built it ourselves, gives us immense amount of flexibility in terms of how fast we can go, you know, rolling out new business models and so on. The other immediate thing that we've seen are things like, you know, quote turnaround time, reduction, and discount levels, which ultimately all impact the top line. So we've seen, like, huge amount of flexibility, as well as direct impact to the business in terms of how our sales team is progressing. We also in our roadmap have a lot of cool features where we are building things that can look at historical trends, it can look at, you know, where a product was sold, how a product was sold specific industry, specific regions. And use that to drive higher margins and lower discounts. I think almost the ultimate vision is gamification of quoting and quoting is not the most interesting space. But if we can gamify it, where a salesperson or a partner can learn from what has happened in the past, can get pointers to how they can do better deals, you know, ultimately, it's about serving the customer, and how can we provide the right solution the customer, that's really what our aim is.
Interesting. And did you build this on top of force.com, or did you build this separately in a public cloud?
We actually build it separately in a public cloud. And it's not built on force.com. It's actually a multi-tenant architecture. Now, you would ask me why multi-tenant architecture Nutanix is not in the business of quoting. But the idea was that we wanted to build something that could very easily work with any system. And we wanted to build it almost as if Nutanix was our customer number one. So it's a multi-tenant independent software that does integrate with Salesforce, our CRM system, does inherit the product master, etc, from Salesforce, but at the same time works independently of it. So it's not on the first platform.
Got it. And what about the billing part, Parag. I know you said it's a combination of…?
You're right. So billing is again, our foundation, there is Zuora, we do use Zuora for subscription billing. And this is family for transactions that come direct, but on top of it are around we build a lot of other infrastructure, whether it is you know, how we do discounting bands, how we do promo codes. So that whole billing platform works around Zuora. And then ultimately, whether it's a sale that happens through our back end to process to a channel partner, or whether it happens to a direct sale through online credit card, all of it then ultimately gets sent back into our ERP system. So different models for sale, but ultimately, it's all conversion converted to a single stream.
Got it. And if I go to the online experience, how does that work? Is it tied to that CPQ that you have built, and the billing system, or is there a separate stack for that?
No, it is tied to the system that we built. And actually, that was one of the reasons that we actually went him and, you know, builds so much capability in house. Because if you look at the market, there are not too many systems that actually give you this, you know, a common seamless experience between CPQ and billing. Now, there are tools, you know, most of these companies will tell you, yes, they have their own modules, and so on. But if you have a lot of different business models, and if there is a transition of this models, it's not that easy. I think that's where a lot of unbuilt came into place. So if you go to the online, it is the same systems you've built and ultimately it all converges back in the backend.
Got it. And Parag, what are your biggest challenges as it is concerning your Quote-to-Cash stack today, like what are the biggest friction points?
So let me tell you at a slightly higher level. As I said, at the beginning, we are in the process of becoming a to subscription company. So there is a lot that has to be done. It is not just the business model change it is also the changes that have to happen in the core product. There it is usage, whether it is compliance, you know, if you look at SaaS products, the one of the advantages there is because the SaaS product runs within the vendor's infrastructure more often than not, they have full control, they know usage and adoption, they know compliance, they can actually shut it down, they can do all kinds of things, when you have an on prem product, it's not easy to do that. Now, we are a company that's in that in between mode hybrid. So my primary focus. And it's also the company's primary focus is this completing the subscription journey where all our business processes are geared towards subscription. So not just selling subscriptions, but also renewing subscriptions, and also the product is capable of doing it. So compliance ability to, you know, turn features of really understanding, adaption and so on, which can be a challenge in when your product is split between on prem and the cloud.
Understood. And so anything that sort of leading to this question, what are your biggest priorities in terms of how you're trying to innovate on the Quote-to-Cash. I know, you talked about earlier, some of the roadmap items about gamification of quoting, what you can learn from what has been done in the past. But are there any big rocks for you, that you'd like to sort of resolve as you go along in the next few quarters?
I wouldn't call them as big rocks. I think for us, the biggest piece last year was building this whole new CPQ system that for me was, I would put that in a big rock category. But we got that done successfully, we built a lot on top of it. Over the last six months or so we have also built our own renewal engine that actually works closely with our CPQ system and helps simplify the whole end to end process from new sales all the way to doing renewals. Now, it is about taking it to the next level right understanding, looking at historical data, adding some machine learning to it, doing some predictors in terms of can something get reviewed, not renewed. So really it is more of I think the foundation is done. It is now the cool features on top of it that can give us a more comprehensive advantage. But it's about how we can leverage the overall intelligence and the knowledge of the field and help it with every sale. That's really the game and then ultimately driving self-service, it is also taking the same capability that our internal users are using. And then, you know, moving it out and having partners do the same thing. So it's more self-service don't need as many salespeople and so on. So it's a combination.
Got it. And since you mentioned partners, a follow up question there. Do your partners quote out of your system, or do they say that give us the data and we will quote out of our own system or a combination of both?
It's a combination of both. It depends on what kind of partner we actually have partners were or large distributors, where who can log into our system and directly quote within our system. And then there are also partners who will work with this, this these and you know, quote out of their system. So it's a combination, where we have to provide partners in some cases, you know, SKU’s and price lists and so on. And in some cases, the partners can directly come in and code from our system. So it varies. It varies based on the type of the partner, whether they are a reseller, it also varies based on where they are, because the way partners work in Asia Pacific compared to Europe, compared to America is very different. And the services they provide is very different. For example, if you're an Asia Pacific that are countries where there is no way you can do any business without any partners, so the partner then has to do. So it's a combination, and we have to support in each of those models.
Got it. You talked about usage based billing earlier when we were starting. So can you talk about your use case and how you got that done in your Quote-to-Cash system? And the reason I asked this is the usage based billing seems to be one of the hot topics in Quote-to-Cash, because there's doesn't seem to be a good way of doing this today?
So when you look at the Nutanix product, it helps you build your data center infrastructure, ultimately. So it's no different from, say, a public cloud, except you could run it on prem, or you could run it on some of the capabilities that we provide in AWS, and so on. So in order to move towards a usage based billing, there are multiple things that you get now. If it was something that was running in cloud infrastructure we provided then, then we had the capability to understand the usage, whether it was compute, whether it was storage use, and then we use that as a thinking about in simple terms as a unit of measure, and we price it at that level very similar to our public cloud does. And that's where our billing platform came into play. So the billing platform called the usage, we had a subscription setup, and the billing platform would invoice. Now, if it was something that is running in the customers infrastructure, that is where it becomes interesting, because now you have to figure out a way where for the customer to send you information and for you to build them, or invoice them on a regular basis. So high level, not very different from the one that public cloud vendors do, the difference mean, not everything is running in our cloud. It could be running in the customer cloud. So you have to have systems that are capable of understanding what is the usage? First of all, you have to define what you mean by usage, then you have to understand have systems running, that actually can measure that usage and send it out. So you can then invoice the customers. So that's where I think it gets a little interesting because through SaaS, you don't have to jump through so many hoops because everything is accessible and visible. If you are on prem, there's a lot more there, because now you're trying to get data from some customers on prem, when working with the customer to get that information.
And what's the interface between this usage and your billing systems? Is it like an upload that happens on a weekly, monthly basis, or is it like API connection between your product and billing system where it's getting?
Yeah, it’s an API connection. We get when we are using our own data centers, it's an API connection. We actually get data, if I remember correctly, in 15 minute increments. So we can like literally go down to 15 minutes and do usage based billing at that level. It's not a monthly upload, I think it's a true API call where, you know, the usage is sent to our billing infrastructure. And then it is stored and then naturally invoiced on a monthly basis for big O customer or a customer.
And this on the billing infrastructure?
I think, by the way…
Just go ahead.
I was just going to add, by the way, that's where I think the API's and having an API based infrastructure is extremely important. I think when you were asking me about why build things in house, because that was the other piece also when we were looking at, business is not always the same. Like how do we build the right API's and leverage the right API's for usage and billing?
Interesting. And so related question to you, Parag. So it looks like you're using some industry standard systems here. And you ended up building your own, which is kind of very unique, by the way, at least in the CPQ space, I see a lot of companies building their own billing systems as they grow, because they don't find anything, that there's a good combination of self-serve, and rec sales, but you build your own CPQ, which is unique. But anyways, my question to you is, what's your advice or recommendation to sort of vendors in the space assuming that the build option was not available? So where do you see basically, the industry should be where people are not forced to build on their own, or is it a utopia that this is the perfect product possible where people can use that to support any of their business models? So the agility that you talked about?
That's a great question, Sandeep. So when I think about it, not every company has, first of all, the capability or the desire to build things in house, it takes a lot of effort. We were just fortunate that we are engineering company that also had the budget to build things in house and it was not always about saving money, it was about could we get some competitive advantage by building things in house? So, I would say most customers are not like us as in most companies would want to go out and buy a product. So when I look at what would help, I think number one is to simplify the business model as much as possible. Because when you look at vendor products, as soon as the business model becomes complicated, you start trying to do too many things. It becomes very difficult because At least, I'm not aware of too many products in the market that have a very nice seamless way going from CPQ to billing, and supporting multiple business models. So some companies are really good at, or some vendors are really good at supporting pure online, some are very good at supporting the pure back into your process. When it starts picking a mix and a mishmash of the two, well, the same customer could be buying through a channel based your model and could be coming online and buying certain services or certain products online in a trial mode and so on, it starts becoming more complicated. Now, how do we, so for companies that are looking to buy new products, I would say, try to simplify your model as much as possible. It's not always the case. But for vendors come up with a way where it becomes easier to add, you know, implement new business models, whether it is the traditional on prem to process or the more recent digital online process. I know I answered at a higher level. But I think that's how I would look at it. Because when you look at backend systems, it gets extremely complicated, where data is going with data. And then most companies end up just having two completely separate processes, two completely separate systems, and then they just sync up the dollars at the end. I think that's not what we wanted to do. And that's the reason for building all these things in house to provide a seamless experience for customers.
And Parag, you also touched upon that Nutanix is sold through the public cloud vendors as well. So how does that, what is a Quote-to-Cash like, steps for that process? Do you get usage or the public cloud?
So the public cloud pieces is very new. And when we talk about sold to the public cloud, it's actually Nutanix operating system or Nutanix software running on AWS, one of our products clusters actually allows you to bring your licenses and run Nutanix software on AWS. And because it's Nutanix software running on AWS, they're the same usage based capabilities that we have, where we can read or figure out the usage and send it back to the Nutanix already exist. So it's not like it's a completely standalone completely separate something happening. The same software that can run on prem, can also run on AWS. I think that's the unique advantage of Nutanix provide in terms of hybrid cloud infrastructure.
Got it. So when this is running in the public cloud, and let's say I bought it in the public cloud. So how does the billing or take place in that case?
So there will be two ways one, you put by your usage, whatever you're going to spend upfront to what traditional purchase order process, and we create a subscription for you with the right amount of dollars. And then you kind of decremented as you start based on the usage. And then the other is where you're not buying anything upfront, but you're on a payroll module, where you come online, create a subscription, spin up the right instances, and then based on the usage that you that we get back, we'll charge you based on a credit card. So two models, both allowed. Ultimately, it is the usage that decides whether I'm decrementing dollars, or I am adding dollars to the account so that we can, you know, bill you on a monthly basis using a credit card or for that matter even you know, invoice only process and things like that.
Got it, got it. And Parag, I'm still fascinated by what you guys built internally with your CPQ. So a question related to that. I don't know if you can share, like how long did it take you to build that, and how big was the team to build that CPQ that you guys are using today.
So we earnestly started the implementation in July, August of 2019. And our first phase went live April of 2020. So 6, 7 months was the first phase. And we phased it out because for we have a large sales team. And the intention was not like just a flip of a switch and everybody moves over. But a big chunk of users went live in the first phase. And then over the next quarter or so, we slowly started moving users over and capabilities over, where in a 95% of all users and move over by the end of August, early September of 2020. So if I had to say, how long did it take us to move 95%, 97% of the users over? I would say one year. Our first go live was in seven months. And then there was a release literally every two weeks as we kept adding functionality.
Understood. And I'm assuming you must have had to build a deep connection with Salesforce CRM, because that's where your sales would originate. Any interesting stories that you want to share on connecting these two systems together?
No, Sandeep. So you're absolutely right, because Salesforce ultimately is our product master and is our customer master So we do pull that data from Salesforce, we looked at various ways, you know, the traditional API base, we use looked at event processing, we looked at batch falls, we looked at various integration frameworks, whether it was the traditionally models, or Kafka, and so on, but finally settled on most of the integrations happening through Kafka. And it was, when I say our first release was seven months, I would say the first couple of months we literally spent in design. We really trying to figure out how it is because when you're thinking about the CPQ system, it can go down, you know, you're looking at four nines, five nines, uptime, and so on. So a lot of effort spent there in terms of how the data would be synced across the systems, synchronous or asynchronous, all of that. But again, there was no, I wouldn't say anything totally groundbreaking, I think a lot of these capabilities in terms of integrating are already available in the market. But it was just a question of being attentive to details, you know, whether we are doing combined API calls, or what kind of event processing are we using? How are we monitoring the capabilities? If something happens in Salesforce, it should not impact our fundraising CPQ and vice versa, things like that. And it was not a huge team. I think to your other question, it is not a huge team. It was around 10, 11 people primarily in India, helping space.
That's very neat, Parag. A related question for you here. Assuming based on what you know, right now, and you are given a chance to recreate the Quote-to-Cash stack from start like a clean slate. Are there any recommendations or suggestions, or would you do anything different? Let me just ask you that way. If you were not to inherit this thing, you have to draw your own picture?
Like I said, I think it is about flexibility within the systems. If I was looking for a complete blank slate Quote-to-Cash, especially in the newer world, as more and more companies are moving towards subscription. One of the things I would say is much tighter. I believe integration is the right word, but much tighter connection between the so called CPQ modules and billing. Because today, they are kind of separate. Most companies even sell it as separate modules. But you know, how do how can the to work much more in sync, the idea being whatever is your traditional selling model, whether through a traditional purchase order, and so on. And your online should work much more seamlessly for the customer, it shouldn't matter whether they went through, you know, sending a purchase order, or giving a credit card. Everything should show up in a common user common seamless user experience. So I would say one of my big things would be how do you have these two strings, really working closely together syncing, data, sending information back and forth. And then the other would be as much as possible API based architecture so that if you want to call certain capabilities from external parties, or external agencies, we work a lot with partners, many partners will come in and say, Oh, just give us API's and we'll send you the information. That's another piece that I would really look at I will not API culture is the number one thing, without that, we really can't build anything in the new world, the current world of IT.
Hey Parag, this brings us to the end of the podcast. But before we let you go, can you share a business resource, maybe a book, a blog, or a podcast, with audience that you thought was very interesting?
Sure. Actually, one of the current books I'm reading is called a “Diversity bonus”. It's something that Nutanix takes very seriously, in terms of its focus on diversity and inclusion. And I found this book very interesting, actually, the author's name is Scott Page. He is professor at University of Michigan for focus around diversity and inclusion. And he had come and talk to us at one of our off sites. So I found the book really interesting. And also very enriching in terms of, you know, why diversity is important and how it really helps look at problems in a unique way, in a different way. And at the end of it in a much more efficient way.
This is very interesting, Parag. So is there any insight that or like one insight that you can share that you've already implemented or thinking of implementing in, like, I'm always very interested in the practical applications of these learnings? So, it will be curious to know if you have applied any of these learnings in your…?
So I'll give you an example. And I wouldn't say I have applied it is just what I have noticed over time. So in an engineering organization, you normally lean towards hiring more engineers, as in more calm science background, writing code and so on. But at the same time, when you look at say something like data science, we are still writing code. Many of them are from science graduates, but many of them also have major in areas like statistics or economics or, you know, completely different areas. And you will see the different perspective that they bring to the table, when I'm just giving you a very real life example that I see on a daily basis. Another experience is UX. Just the user experience piece of it, as in having somebody, like gaming is a great example that you will see user experience, individuals who come from a very different background, and are working closely with engineers to build games, we see that all the time in our user experience group, where the backgrounds are very different. The way of looking at things is very different. So these are my two very live examples that I see on a regular basis. And they are not Nutanix specific as we've seen that in the industry all the time. They're getting people to come in who can give you a very different perspective on look at a problem very differently, is a very efficient way of looking and solving the problem.
Awesome. Hey Parag, once again thanks for your time. Today, it was a great chatting with you.
Absolutely. Thank you for having me.