Syniti shines in structured data lifecycle management

Syniti is a structured data lifecycle management supplier – with a focus on enterprise applications such as SAP and Salesforce – and not a file lifecycle management supplier.

As such, it occupies a different market sector from vendors such as Komprise, Datadobi, and Data Dynamics, whose focus is on unstructured file and object data and migrating it to lower-cost and slower storage as access rates diminish, not structured database record data. Yet the need for structured data lifecycle management is just as obvious as the need for file lifecycle management – possibly more so, as enterprise apps are often mission-critical with data placed in fast-access primary storage silos.

Syniti – like Komprise, Datadobi, and Data Dynamics – is a metadata scanning supplier, but its niche is enterprise app database metadata, with aspects related to business, technology, and application, rather than to file and object metadata.

Private equity-owned Syniti was founded in Boston in 1996 by Tom and Trish Kennedy as BackOffice Associates – an SAP-focused consultancy. BackOffice Associates developed information governance, data stewardship, and data migration software, such as its Syniti Knowledge Platform, for SAP, Oracle, and other ERP vendors. 

Goldman Sachs invested in the business in 2011. In 2017, a majority stake in BackOffice Associates, with a $300 million valuation, was acquired from Goldman Sachs by private equity business Bridge Growth Partners. As a curiosity, ex-EMC CEO, chairman, and president Joe Tucci is a Bridge Growth Partners co-founder and chairman, and joined the BackOffice Associates board at the time. The BackOffice Associates name gave way to Syniti after this acquisition.

According to Bloor Research, Syniti now sells packaged cloud-native data management software “with about a third of its revenue coming from licenses rather than professional services.” Its more than 500 customers include American Airlines, Kraft, and Nestlé, and it has worked for more than 200 Forbes Global 2000 organizations. The business employs over 1,400 staff.

It has built more than 160 connectors to enterprise applications, with SAP a strong focus, meaning it can read and understand their metadata. This expertise is not something easily gained, and this is what partially prevents Komprise, Datadobi, and similar file-focused lifecycle management vendors moving into the structured data lifecycle world. This barrier works both ways: Syniti cannot easily move into the unstructured data lifecycle management market.

Chris Gorton, Syniti
Chris Gorton

Syniti’s EMEA MD, Chris Gorton, told us in a briefing that one of Syniti’s first activities in a customer engagement is rightsizing. “For every application, [we ask] how have you managed that over time? The answer is typically ‘we haven’t.'”

This results in over-provisioned primary storage, with Gorton arguing: “There are SAP systems out there that are 60–70 terabytes. And when we do an initial assessment, we normally find that maybe six or seven terabytes of that is actually real operational data that they access.”

What is a typical trigger for customers to engage with Syniti? Gorton explained: “Because the technology vendors push them in that direction, because of the way they they acquire ERP software. It’s consumption-based. So they have to think, ‘well, hang on a minute, if I’m going to be charged on a consumption-based model, are we going to be storing and accessing data in the most efficient way?’ So, in a way, the ERP industry is forcing customers to be more cost-efficient.”

Syniti is not typically used as a one-shot exercise by its customers. It supports the view that data lifecycle management is an ongoing activity. Applications come and go, experience upgrades, move from the on-premises to the public cloud, and some get decommissioned. Data needs governance to make sure only the right people and apps can access it, and its retention meets compliance and privacy regulations. The data accumulated by decommissioned apps needs to be evaluated and, where appropriate, stored and made available to upstream apps. 

This is another point of difference with file-based lifecycle management vendors: app decommissioning is not typically one of their focus areas.

Gorton explained that Syniti’s offerings are somewhat like IT plumbing. Syniti doesn’t, as we understand it, own the data. It provides data management and delivers data access to where it’s needed. For example, Gorton told us Syniti doesn’t see itself providing any GenAI-type copilots to analyze data. It sees its responsibility as delivering valid, cleaned, and compliant data to AI apps for them to analyze and process.

AI’s results, he suggested, will only be as good as the data it uses – and Syniti aims to provide the best quality data it can for Gen AI models to process.