I did a post last week on several changes in the HR space. One of those involved SumTotal's elixHR architecture. After that post, an analyst colleague wrote to me to check my understanding with their perspective of SumTotal's integration capability.
What kind of integration has SumTotal achieved now?
Is it the kind of integration where a vendor leaves the underlying code of its acquired product lines alone, but creates a common middleware? Is the new architecture a full rewrite of the individual products or a cosmetic change of the user interface? Has a new single, employee record been implemented, or is employee data retained in redundant data stores throughout the diverse product portfolio?
Today, I had a follow-up call with Hardeep Gulati, EVP of Product and Customer Support for SumTotal. Here's his response to these concerns:
All of SumTotal's products, acquired or otherwise, are on a Microsoft .net architecture. This common development platform enables a number of platform and product line synergies.
SumTotal has a single master data management (MDM) core. This is used with its business process management (BPM) toolset and permits the tailoring of business processes to specific customer needs or circumstances.
All of SumTotal's services occur in real time. Calls to specific data, objects, etc, go through the one .net architecture and not across a network of connectors to different products running on different architectures. This connector-style integration has been used by a number of acquisitive software companies, but is not the method behind the elixHR approach.
SumTotal has a number of common objects that can be utilized in creating its user interface and other functions.
"Punch-out" integration, where an application needs to send data out to a third-party application for some work (or "punch in" to do the reverse) is not the brunt of the new SumTotal environment. The company re-did the plumbing for its products. Customers can do "punch-out" integration to another system (eg, financial application or third-party benefits administration system) via elixHR. This punch-out capability is a part of the elixHR architecture, but is not the way elixHR works with the SumTotal products.
There is one exception to all of this, though. SumTotal acquired the Cyborg Payroll technology (nee Accero), and this solution is not on the .net stack described above. This product has a different user interface and technology stack. From what I remember of Cyborg, it was mostly written in Cobol. When or if this product line will be re-platformed was not disclosed.
Like I had previously written, SumTotal did redo the plumbing of most of its acquired products. It didn't, like some competitors, change only the middleware stack to continue to use old code with new connectors. While it didn't change the Payroll product (yet), it did change all of the other products. ElixHR does possess the ability to connect to third-party products, but this isn't the bigger point re: ElixHR. ElixHR is now an engine to help SumTotal develop all-new apps faster.