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Nice Guys Finish Rich

What is it about grandiose financial success that makes some high-tech entrepreneurs so seemingly well-grounded? You'd think that guys like Unidesk president and CEO Don Bulens and NexGen founder John Spiers, who were major players in companies that sold for ungodly amounts of money (Bulens: EqualLogic, $1.4 billion, Spiers: LeftHand Networks $350 million) would be self-absorbed narcissists with sociopathic leanings. Not the case; they are both nice, unpretentious guys with whom conversation comes easily.

Ditto Flow Corporation founder Eric Alterman, a serial startup specialist who has founded multiple companies, including Mesh Networks, which he sold for the tidy sum of $250 million. Alterman is a polished speaker and a soft seller who describes the many virtues of his latest firm, Flow Corporation, without lapsing into the bland, marketing speak that plagues so many salespeople.

Flow is all about PaaS, but not in the same fashion as Force.com or Azure. In fact, Flow's new Flow Platform -- which also redacts information in real-time on a highly permissioned basis -- works in conjunction with those Salesforce.com and Microsoft PaaS products. What the Flow Platform does is simplify the development of real-time applications while enabling stream-processing, data routing and information interoperability between mobile, Web and enterprise apps.

As Alterman puts it, Azure and Force.com act as hosts, while Flow lives a layer up. "We're the routing system," Alterman declares. "We're the cloud-based communications bus that filters and processes. If you have data silos, they are riveted to a single app. You need to manhandle that data and route it where it needs to go. Real-time routing displaces the need to have a big data storing process. We can help if you create real-time apps or do heavy processing to correlate information from Tweeter to your product management system."

For enterprise customers, the Flow Platform provides the ability to integrate data, e.g. sales leads, job candidates, product information, inventory updates, from any internal or external data source into an extensible, real-time workflow. The data is then pushed to the right people and applications in real-time.

For media companies, the Flow Platform and SaaS offerings were created to address the stream processing and interoperability challenges related to content management. According to the company, "Flow provides media and news editors the ability to mix content streams in a real-time content management solution from any number of internal and external sources, using both automatic and ad-hoc-drag-and-drop content curation tools to dynamically populate mobile and web experiences.

Alterman says Flow has no business staff because the Flow Platform is totally self-serve. "We direct you to our platform and how to use it. I don't care how big your environment is, we can solve your problems."

Posted by Bruce Hoard on 03/16/2012 at 12:48 PM


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