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Where do product features come from?

Friday, 15:30 > our brand new customer has a problem:

The shiny new cloudy CRM system is full of essential data that the rest of the business really needs on the internal customer data platform (you know – that one that only supports SFTP or manual uploads).

Their solution? “Call that new data portal supplier (that’s us!) – they’re more responsive than the CRM vendor.”

Our solution? Build shiny new features!

This is one of those stories that could have a humorous tagline on The Register. We were two weeks into a relationship with a new customer, and things were going well; they were happy, and we’d started talking to them about adding email integration.

However, we didn’t expect the next step to be a call late on a Friday afternoon asking us if we could help out with a data transfer problem. Probably, we said, but it turned out that we couldn’t – at least not immediately.

We learned that the source was a cloud-based CRM system, with a delightfully easy-to-use API built in which did everything they needed to create the data. They already had code calling the API to generate reports which their staff could download, then manually transfer internally, but they needed that to happen automatically as well as being able to share it with other teams.

DOQEX includes Virtual File Stores (VFS), which can be used to interface with and transfer data between various types of system; unfortunately the cloud CRM wasn’t one of them.

During a three-way call, we found the API could do a callback when a report was generated; we added a hook to our workflow engine, making it available to our VFS as a source and therefore available inside DOQEX for sharing.

It should have been easy from there – we already support SFTP, and they needed the files sent to them via SFTP, and we have file-forwarding specifically for situations like this. It’s rarely that straightforward with legacy systems though. This one had no support for the (modern, secure) cipher suites we support for SFTP, making it a fairly significant risk in our eyes!

The end result? We built in a VPN client system, which makes their DOQEX service look like one of their staff connecting to their network, enabling it to talk directly to their internal system without having to fall back to plain FTP.

So, this is where DOQEX answers the question: Customers!   

As far as DOQEX is concerned every feature in the service is there because a customer needed it.   The new VPN and VFS features became available across our entire DOQEX estate.   Our unitary codebase is not only more secure and manageable, it’s essential to make new features like this available to all our customers.