An interview with Equalis, a Scilab based business

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This week we have for you another interview with a company whose business model is built on top of open source software: Equalis. The open source software in question is Scilab and Dr.Neil
Mitchell
, COO and Co-founder of Equalis, will be answering our questions. On with the interview!


F4S: Please Dr. Mitchell, give us some background about your company Equalis.

Dr. Mitchell: Equalis was founded in March 2009. Its headquarters are in San Jose, CA, USA, with a network of global partners throughout Europe and Asia.

Its mission was driven by several factors:

  • Provide complete, industrial grade support, for the 3 million Scilab downloader’s
  • Provide a flexible, cost effective alternative for Matlab users constrained by restrictive licensing and prohibitively priced applications
  • Provide advanced functionality, connectivity to enterprise systems, and scalability for engineers using Excel or in-house programs

Equalis supports all these needs by providing a complete Scilab support programs including: training, deployment, real-time support and consulting. Equalis also drives the Scilab product development roadmap to meet customer needs by accelerating bug fixes and including feedback on the strategic product roadmap. Additionally, Equalis also develops and supports exclusive premier software features and application modules to augment the baseline platform to meet its customers’ specialized needs.

For frustrated Matlab users, Equalis provides a flexible licensing schema, typically costing 90% less compared to purchasing software, and over 50% less in ongoing maintenance and support costs. Equalis also facilitates effective start-up through assisting with file migrations using translators. For Excel and in-house application users, Equalis provides a powerful, scalable application, with 100’s of toolboxes, connectivity to enterprise systems, and premier software features, for a very cost effective price.

F4S: What is your business model?

Dr. Mitchell: Equalis provides numerical analysis and simulation solutions through an annual subscription. These can be individual subscriptions or team projects at companies. The Equalis solution consists of the baseline Scilab open source platform, a full range of Equalis support programs and premier software features. Equalis, through its global partner network, also provides international project support, in local languages and local time zones.

Equalis also provides a complete range of support services, including: training, deployment, and consulting services to optimize productivity and deployment.

Through Equalis’ unique partnership with Scilab, we provide a complete industrial grade solution consisting of the Scilab numerical computation platform, hundreds of premier features, state-of-the art application-specific modules, and complete support programs for every type of user; be it educational users, professional users, or companies deploying globally.

Our solutions are offered as annual subscriptions and include:

Equalis Pro Plus

Equalis Pro Plus provides the power user with the ultimate solution to maximize productivity. It leverages the best-in-class Scilab numerical computation platform and provides hundreds of exclusive premium features as well as entire application-specific modules. Just as important, Pro Plus includes our complete range of support services including: real-time phone and chat support, online knowledgebase featuring thousands of pages of content, and local language support.

Equalis Pro

Equalis Pro provides engineers and scientists an industrial grade Scilab solution that’s ready for connectivity to enterprise data sources and scalability. By incorporating the Scilab numerical computation platform and adding exclusive premier features, as well as our on-line support services, technical professionals can feel confident they have everything they need to get their jobs done.

Equalis Pro solutions start as low as $495 per year per named user.


Equalis Education

Equalis Education provides students and professors with the Scilab solution supported by our online support services and knowledgebase, featuring thousands of pages of content, video tutorials, tech tips, use cases, etc.

Equalis Community

Equalis Community offers a feature rich version of the Scilab numerical computation application, support from our online Scilab Forum, access to Tips of the Day discussions and a comprehensive Get Started Guide.

Equalis solutions meet the production needs of industries such as aerospace, automotive, electronics, energy, manufacturing, semiconductor and others. Having been downloaded over 3 million times, Scilab is used extensively throughout the world in both industry and research, including companies such as ArcelorMittal, CNES, EDF, IDT, Peugeot to name a few.
Scilab is available under Linux, Windows and Mac OS, providing a powerful computing environment for engineering and scientific applications. It is distributed under the CeCILL license which is GPL compatible.

As part of our partnership with Scilab, Equalis brings together key customer needs and product features, and works closely with Scilab development team to maintain a focused product roadmap. As part of our on-going customer engagement Equalis accelerates high priority bug fixes and provides a process whereby customers can provide strategic input into the product roadmap to further align our value proposition with user needs.

By working with our customers we have developed strong capabilities in many high value application areas including: Optimization, Advanced Signal Processing, Control Systems, Embedded Systems, Test and Measurement, and much more.

F4S: How many clients do you have? Can you mention some of them?

Dr. Mitchell: Even though we’ve only just started Equalis has over 50 customers. Some of these include ArcelorMittal, CNES, Hewlett Packard, IDT, Intel, ONERA, and many more.

F4S: Are you self-funded or did Equalis get started with venture capital?

Dr. Mitchell: Equalis is funded through a combination of self-funding together with venture capital funding. We’re very fortunate to have recruited such a strong board with executives from the Linux Foundation, Red Hat, and Western Digital, and Stonepine Advisors.

F4S: Are you currently seeking investors?

Dr. Mitchell: Equalis is not currently seeking investors. However Equalis is always looking for high value partners with innovative technology or global solutions partners for business development.

F4S: How many employees does Equalis have?

Dr. Mitchell: Equalis consists of a core team of sales & marketing, applications engineering, community management, training, consulting, and software development at its corporate headquarters. Additionally it has an exclusive partnership with the Scilab team, a global network of solutions partners, and global OEM partnerships. The total number of personnel focused on the Equalis solution is around 200.

F4S: What career opportunities are there in Equalis?

Dr. Mitchell: Equalis is growing rapidly and welcomes applications from domain experts for various positions including: pre-sales application engineers, software developers, consultants, customer support, and marketing. Please send cover letter and resume to: jobs@equalis.com.

F4S: How will you describe Equalis’ working environment?

Dr. Mitchell: Fast paced, flexible, organized and fun. Employees are encouraged to stretch themselves and take on new projects. These include: applications engineering, product development, customer support, marketing, etc. We don’t force people into rigid organizational boxes and we have a “take as much time off as you need vacation policy.”

F4S: Do you have industry partners?

Dr. Mitchell: We’ve already mentioned our unprecedented partnership with Scilab.
Equalis also has a global network of solutions partners providing local sales and customer support. These include: AEC Consulting for Italy, SciWorks Technologies for France, TechPassion for India, TOYO Corporation for Japan, Trity Technologies for ASEAN.
Equalis also works with technology partners such as HPC Project for several unique software modules.

F4S: What challenges have you confronted been a business based on open source software?

Dr. Mitchell: An initial challenge was “why are we better than free?”
The answer is quite simply that Equalis enables customer competitive advantage through:

  • Providing a accountability and roadmap input for Scilab
  • Providing a complete suite of support services (training, deployment, real-time support, consulting)
  • Developing unique premier software features and application modules

F4S: What advice could you give to someone who is thinking about starting a business using scientific open source software?

Dr. Mitchell: Identity and validate your value add and competitive advantage.
Being open source means sharing and building a sense of community. Once core developers feel they are part of a common mission they’ll produce great software and customers will value it.

F4S: Which projects, blogs or sites related to open source software for science can you recommend?

Dr. Mitchell: Many of our Community members and fellow Scilab users have some great blogs including Tadayuki Nakajima’s Scilab World, and Tibault’s Reveyrand’s blog.

F4S: Is there any other topic you would like our readers to know about?

Dr. Mitchell: Try our industrial grade solution for yourselves for 30 days for free by mentioning this Floss4science. Click here to start your 30 day trial.. In addition we welcome all your readers to take our “MATLAB Challenge” by letting us convert your Matlab scripts for free and show you identical results in Equalis. You can get more details and securely upload your scripts at http://www.equalis.com/?Scilab_Deployment#Matlab_Challenge

F4S: Where people can contact you?

Dr. Mitchell: People can join the Equalis Community for free at www.equalis.com . They can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

F4S: Thank you Dr. Mitchell for sharing with us more about Equalis.


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