Who is AG-Tech and what is the company history?
AG-Tech is a company that specializes in bringing software developed outside of Japan to the Japanese market. This involves everything from the software and its documentation’s localization into Japanese, its testing with Japanese data and OSes, to its local support, marketing, sales and distribution into the Japanese market.
The company was formed in 1984 and has been selling a Japanese version of the embedded Actian Zen product line and its predecessors since 1987.
What does AG stand for?
The first 2 letters of “Aggressive”.
When and how did you become an Actian partner?
AG-Tech has been involved with the Actian Zen product line since it first sold Btrieve version 4 into the Japanese market in 1986.
If you had to describe Actian with just one word, what would it be?
One word is hard, but if it has to be one word – “innovation”
What are some of Japan’s specifics, advantages and challenges when it comes to data, data management, embedded databases, edge and IoT?
Japan is faster than anywhere else seeing a decrease in its workforce and an aging of its population, leading to an urgent need to automate and deploy RPA (robotic process automation), AI and IoT in the factory, the office and society in general. Furthermore, Japanese companies are worldwide leaders in these areas. More than elsewhere, we have seen that security concerns are leading to a desire to keep data closer to where it is generated and to process it at the Edge, rather than upload it to the cloud. The Japanese market does however demand and expect very high quality, reliability and support for the software products it deploys. This all creates a growing demand and opportunity for the high quality, reliable embedded data management solutions that AG-Tech and Actian provide the Japanese market.
What is the most interesting Actian Zen design-in that you’ve been part of?
Although I have been involved in many interesting design-ins in the past, probably the most interesting are the ones ongoing at the moment. We are helping major Japanese manufacturers at the very forefront of AI use Zen as a fast, reliable datastore in their IoT devices. Confidentiality prevents me disclosing much detail, but it has been a great pleasure to see Zen continue to be chosen by system developers for the same reasons as I choose it as a system developer 25 years ago – the sheer speed, controllability and simplicity of its transactional interface.
Which Actian Zen features stand out the most and make the product outstrip its competitors?
The reliability and quality of the product and its ability to just keep running by itself without any need for administration have and continue to be key to its success. Also, developers greatly appreciate Zen’s backwards compatibility that has allowed them to use new functionality and the latest programming languages and OS platforms, without having to alter or even re-compile their existing applications.
How is the trend of Embedded Analytics changing in Japan?
Traditionally analytics of data at the Edge in Japan has often meant assembly of data and analysis of it in the cloud, for presentation and user response on browser-based dashboards. With the increasing amounts of data being generated by IoT at the Edge, security concerns and the need for a faster response, system designers are increasingly looking to perform more of their analytics closer to where data is generated at the Edge, both at the gateway level and on IoT devices themselves. Increasing amounts of memory and CPU power in IoT devices have enabled greater use of more complex analytic algorithms and AI in the devices themselves. This is resulting in an increasing desire to embed analytics and the data for it securely at the Edge or on the gateway. The sheer number of devices and variety of platforms involved means system developers are looking to keep to an absolute minimum the complexity and maintenance needs of their systems.
Zen’s cross-platform standardized data format and API, and low maintenance needs make it an ideal data store in this market.
There is also a trend for system integrators to no longer sell IoT systems and their analytics separately. There is now an increasing expectation from the end user for IoT solutions that include not only the IoT devices themselves but embedded analytics of their operation for on-site users to gain real-time insights into their performance.
What is the most memorable moment associated with Actian as a partner?
I always remember the excellent product training that I first received on joining the Actian team, and how this had been followed up / tested by working in the support center answering customer phone enquiries. It was definitely being thrown in at the deep end but an excellent lesson that the best way to learn, evaluate progress or get feedback is to talk to customers.
Responding was Martin Sims, AG-Tech’s CTO.