Australia-based Yellowfin built its own browser-based business intelligence tool and looked for novel ways to commercialize it, including channel and technology partnerships.

In 2015, the company partnered with Microsoft to grow both direct customers and independent software vendor partnerships via the Azure Marketplace. Customers and partners can rapidly deploy Yellowfin’s BI solution on Azure, connect to their own data sources—such as Microsoft SQL, MySQL, Oracle and SAP databases—and use it for free for 12 months. With great exposure on the Azure Marketplace, Yellowfin is finding new customers, while the unique partnership powers an entirely new revenue stream.

Yellowfin - Microsoft Success Story Australia

The Business Challenge: Over the past decade, Melbourne-based Yellowfin has created successive versions of a powerful business intelligence (BI) platform that allows any company to easily interrogate its data – regardless of what sort of database they use – and create stunning charts, diagrams and reports. It was a designed as a browser-based product and was built with the aid of open source JavaScript libraries.

“Our BI software, Yellowfin, has to be absolutely platform agnostic,” says Lachlan James, Communications Manager, Yellowfin. “Our customers need to be able to install it on Linux or Windows environments and access it from any connected device. Some customers download it onto their servers; others deploy in the cloud. We have to provide customers with maximum choice.”

In 2015, the company wanted to make Yellowfin BI more widely accessible. Executives considered new business models, including partnering with cloud services providers to make it easier for potential clients to trial Yellowfin’s BI solution. Ideally, customers would be able to download the tool into a pre-configured cloud environment, so they could analyze their own data as quickly as possible.

“Our objective was to give our BI tool an increased presence in the professional BI software marketplace so that it marketed itself,” says James. “We were ready to explore new partnerships and avenues to market, including cloud services providers. But cloud partners had to be secure, open to commercial partnership, and able to support our technology, and whatever stacks our customers already had.”

The Solution: In 2015, Microsoft and Yellowfin worked together on the idea of placing Yellowfin BI on the Azure Marketplace. The project aimed to allow potential customers and partners to instantly spin-up an instance of Yellowfin on the Azure cloud. The Azure-hosted option included a free, three-user license for 12 months. It would enable users to quickly connect their own database to Yellowfin on Azure, regardless of whether that database was on customer premises or with a third-party cloud service.

“The Azure Marketplace allows the ISV community to commercialise their platforms as quickly and seamlessly as possible—regardless of the technologies they use to create their products,” explains Michael O’Keefe, Open Source Product Manager, Microsoft. “We partner with ISVs like Yellowfin so customers can trial a new service and move to production on Azure.”

James’ colleagues received the technical and marketing support they needed to turn this idea into a viable proposition. “The Azure Marketplace team understood exactly what we needed to make the commercial partnership work,” he says. ”When we asked questions, we got answers quickly. Once we hit ‘go’, the launch happened in just a few weeks.”

Yellowfin launched its BI platform on the Azure Marketplace with a step-through wizard that enables customers to select their preferred server platform, including Linux, and Windows. If customers want to deploy on Azure the wizard helps them to set up their chosen Azure subscription. A simple integration connects Yellowfin BI with the potential customer’s database—wherever it’s located.

The result: within minutes of first seeing Yellowfin, customers can spin-up a fully-fledged instance and quickly connect to their own data sources to start performing enterprise-grade reporting and analytics.

The Benefits:

  • A tech-agnostic cloud partner. For Yellowfin, the big plus of the Azure Marketplace partnership is that it supports complete freedom of technology choice —for Yellowfin and its customers. Engineers continue to develop Yellowfin BI using the technologies they prefer. Customers can deploy on Azure regardless of the servers or databases they already use.

“Yellowfin provides a model that allows customers to connect to any supported data source whether hosted on Azure, on premises or in a third-party cloud service,” says O’Keefe. “This gives potential Yellowfin customers the flexibility they need to trial Yellowfin without significant infrastructure investment.”

  • Ultra-rapid rollout. According to O’Keefe, the Yellowfin-Azure partnership demonstrates Microsoft qualifications for helping ISVs and startups boost their business by offering them a reliable platform to market and deliver software and platforms to customers.

“Azure Marketplace is a fantastic platform to give people hands-on access to our software,” says James. “It enables them to instantly access our product free for 12 months in a trusted environment—regardless of operating system, device or platform.

“We launched extremely rapidly, and improved the accessibility of Yellowfin’s BI platform with the Azure Marketplace. The partnership model is ideal for fast-paced ISVs.”

A new commercial model for ISVs. According to O’Keefe, the ability to partner with Microsoft represents a new commercial model for ISVs and small, independent developers, which will create more commercial opportunities.

“Our focus is on using the potential of the cloud platform to provide commercial opportunities for our partners, ISVs and other open source software developers,” says O’Keefe. “We want all developers to be able to use the Azure platform as seamlessly and profitably as possible.”

“Being associated with a great brand like the Azure Marketplace gives us good exposure and a fantastic route to market,” adds James. “The fact that Azure has a great reputation for security also means our customers can be confident they are working with a trusted cloud service.”

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