We interviewed Samuel Iseli, the Head of Research and Architecture at Vertec Group, a Swiss company. To expand its business to international markets, Vertec wants to migrate the business objects model and the whole database to English.

Federico Tomassetti: Hello. Thank you for joining us. Can you start introducing yourself and tell us a little bit about Vertec?

Samuel Iseli: Yes, sure. My name is Samuel Iseli. I’m a co-founder of Vertec, and I was a long time responsible for the development. My current position is the Chief Architect and Head of Research. Yes, perhaps a little bit about Vertec. We are a product company. We produce an ERP system for the services business. That means for companies that sell services, and it comprises CRM, invoicing, everything, business intelligence. And it’s quite a capable system that’s highly configurable. We have a few thousand customers in Switzerland and Germany mainly. And yes, that’s about Vertec, the company. Vertec is almost 30 years in the market already. Yes, that’s about our company. What did we build together with Strumenta? We built a SQL transpiler, and what we want to do with it? We are in the process of migrating our business objects model and also the whole database to English because we are a swiss german company. So when we started with everything with database schema, the model and so there are quite a lot of German terms in the objects, in the classes, in the tables, columns and so. And as we are targeting now more international markets like not only Germany and Switzerland, we are in the process of transferring our whole data model to English, to good English terms. And what’s always the case with our product, it’s fully backward compatible. So all our customers should be able to just work with the new version without doing changes and assistant.

There are a lot of configurations on client side, so we need to ensure that all the custom SQL snippets there are and so at the customer configurations just work in the German version still. So our way is to just plug hook into the SQL execution and there translate all these SQL fragments from the German based or German english mixed statements into the new one. For this we need to parse the SQL because only then can we identify the tables and column names and translate them based on our data model. That’s the central part of the applications.

Federico Tomassetti: Makes sense. I wanted to say congratulations for these results. I think for myself as a Founder, not as successful as yourself, it’s very inspiring to talk with someone that I can take as an example. Can I ask you, why did you decide to work with Strumenta?

Samuel Iseli: Yeah, I mean we just thought building a parser and a transpiler is quite a specialized work we will do once. And so it, it was attractive for us to search for somebody, a contractor that does it for us. And I did some web research and some mailing list, I don’t know where, and I got across your name some years ago already. So I had it in my notes somewhere and I thought, okay, there’s a guy, he wrote a small book about compilers and it’s a link, if you go to enter, there are links that point to Strumenta. And so I just got somehow an overview who deals with building parsers. And so I came across Strumenta and I thought it appeared like a competent partner to me. So we tried this with you together.

Federico Tomassetti: I hope we maintain that impression also after, at this point I will normally ask you why this project is important to you, but I think you have already explained how these enable you to move to a broader market. So it seems quite important.

Samuel Iseli: I mean, it’s a very technical component. Most customers won’t even, or shouldn’t even notice that it’s there.It’s really very hidden in our product,but still important for this transition.

Federico Tomassetti: Yeah, sure. And are you satisfied with the results that you got from this collaboration?

Samuel Iseli: Yes, yes, yes. There were small, few small bugs in the parser, but we noticed that we added quite a lot of real-life SQL statements from our customers or from our implementers at the customers to just test quite a lot of it and some details. But then they were always fixed quite quickly by Strumenta. So the way of working together was okay for us. You delivered what we ordered, and it works. And as I said, yes, the response to additional or bug fixes is really good.

Federico Tomassetti: Do you think, is there anything that we could have done differently to provide a better service?

Samuel Iseli: I think for this kind of work where the specification is really very clear, just implement the parser for this database system. So yeah, it is good. I mean we didn’t have much communication. It was a kickoff meeting. Then you developed and then you delivered and we looked at it and it worked. So, not much. I mean, on a different project it probably would be a closer collaboration that wasn’t really needed in this case. Yeah.

Federico Tomassetti: Yeah. Our goal is to be boring and reliable. So since that. Okay, and would you suggest to someone else with a similar problem to work with Strumenta?

Samuel Iseli: Yeah, sure. I mean I think it’s, I mean if you, if you search for companies that are that build compiler, you find, you find some, some individuals perhaps, but we, we prefer to work with a company that has more than just one developer. I mean we always worked with Gabriele now, but it’s just a bit more than an independent single person developer. So I think in this, and I would really suggest if somebody needs to build a parser or compiler, then I think Strumenta is really the, the place to go.

Federico Tomassetti: Thank you. Okay, we are approaching the end of the interview. Last couple of questions. One is if you can share where someone could find more about Vertec. If you have any pointers or any suggestion, if someone is interested in learning more.

Samuel Iseli: Yeah, sure. Our website, www.vertec.com and there you find everything and we can, we are always happy to consult potential customers. You see also the reference companies, quite some well known names in the lawyers or engineering business that. Yeah.

Federico Tomassetti: And final question, is there anything that I didn’t ask and you want to add?

Samuel Iseli: No, I think that’s okay.

Federico Tomassetti: Yeah. Good then. Thank you very much.It’s been a pleasure

Samuel Iseli: … to talk. Yeah, I know.