Questions for Zoho Creator’s Lead Architect?

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After wrapping up Suganya’s interview, Pete Thomas sent me an email saying that he wants to make this a series of interviews with some more guys at Zoho Creator. As we team had a good time pulling Suganya’s legs after reading her interview, we decided it’s Sriram’s turn now to face the music! Get ready, Sriram 😉

Sriram - Zoho Creator's Lead Arcitect

Jokes apart, Sriram is Zoho Creator’s Lead Architect. A very cool and composed guy, he handles Zoho Creator’s Infrastructure, Security, Caching Architecture, Performance and more. Pete has already posted some topics which Sriram will be answering.

So all you Zoho Creator users there, if you have any questions in these topics, please feel free to post your questions at Land of ZC and get to know from Sriram what it means to manage and maintain such a user-friendly beast.

Success Story: K. Hovnanian Homes uses Zoho Creator

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K. Hovnanian® Homes™ is a nationally recognized homebuilder that has been committed to excellence since 1959. The company started as a family-owned business, and through well-defined acquisition efforts, has expanded over the years to become a family of homebuilders with localized expertise in numerous markets throughout the United States.

Getting to the point, this below picture demonstrates how K. Hovnanian® Homes™ operated their business on a daily basis ie., collecting the home listing information of various parts of the state from their sales representatives and publishing this information onto their corporate website (
(click on the image to read the story)

And after putting in much effort and time, the team was unable to provide consistent, accurate and real-time information for their customers when they requested them for. It cost them a lot in terms of money and customer satisfaction.

Alan Bradford, the marketing consultant of K. Hovnanian® Homes™ stumbled upon Zoho Creator. Combining Zoho Creator, Zoho Chat and another free website hosting service, the team was able to setup an environment where their sales associates can update their information easily. The entire process took them just 3 weeks. Yes just 3 weeks. Read the full story here.

Another interesting thing I found from Alan’s personal blog is that he has been using Zoho Creator for his personal needs since Sep 2006. Since then, he has been waiting patiently for Zoho Creator to become more reliable in terms of speed and uptime to use it for business needs (read his comment at Land of ZC). Thanks for your patience Alan, hope it paid off.

Do check out his personal blog – Big Ugly Couch, he writes some pretty interesting stuff there!

Customer service 2.0

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Many Zoho users ask us why we provide good customer service even for free users.

I’ve seen many vendors who don’t support their free users….just because they don’t pay. They don’t recognize the time the free users investing on the product….and if the product is in Beta, they are worth even more. Other vendors give away the product and charge for support – I personally dislike that model.

We truly think customer service should not be an paid option, but an integral part of the product offering, even if it’s free. It is for this reason we include a ‘Feedback’ link for every Zoho application that’ll put you in touch directly with our developers – not just the support staff, but developers who really need to know how the product is being used.

Apart from the ‘Feedback’ link, every Zoho application has a very active discussion forums (again, with a link from every app). Our Zoho Meeting team is one step ahead as they include a ‘Live Support’ link inside the app where you can chat (ofcourse Zoho Chat) with some one from our Meeting team if they are online. Also, we try to be very reachable. You’ll find my contact information (including my mobile number) sitting on our Contact Us section.

We truly believe, good customer service is essential for maintaining a relationship with the customer. It is important for the company and the customer. The quote in our About us section says it all.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises.
He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him.
He is not an interruption in our work – he is the purpose of it.
We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us the opportunity to serve him.

– Mahatma Gandhi

Customer Service will be a key differentiator for Zoho. What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree that customer service should be part of the application offering?

Features for the Outlook Plugin for Zoho CRM

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The Outlook Plugin is one of the core add-ons provided by Zoho CRM. I firmly believe that the Oultook Plugin is a force-multiplier and can dramatically enhance productivity. Hence, I would like to understand what all are the features that you would like to see in it at the very earliest. A priority-wise list will be very helpful.
Currently we have a bidirectional sync facility but this will not suffice. We are working on providing pull and push facility from- and to- Outlook to Zoho CRM and vice-versa.

We are working on adding some of the other planned features as well.

Documentation for Zoho CRM

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We have been getting some mails wherein the main thrust is addressing the How-To? behaviour.

I would like to know in what manner should this requirement be addressed to satisfy most of the community. I know that we can provide textual documentation but then this seems so passe’. I am certainly not going to write this off but then there certainly are other modes of conveying the message too like contextual help. Any other ideas would do good too please.
Any reference sites will be good to have.

Zohoites interviewed

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As said here, Pete Thomas of ‘Land of ZC’ interviewed Suganya, Lead Architect of Deluge. From the interview :

LoZC: What other projects, applications, or web sites out there influence your current work and perhaps helped to inspire what we see in Deluge today? And which mentors, teachers, or books do you think most influence your design style?

Suganya: Deluge was initially built as a proprietary language to meet our internal needs. Deluge’s design is not influenced by any one language, however since the underlying execution engine is Java, and we are mostly Java programmers, that had some subconscious influence, but Deluge is a very different animal from Java. We did have a look at Ruby on Rails, PHP, Python and Lisp for inspiration and also read few research papers on data driven web applications.

LoZC: This question comes from Bill, commenting at the LoZC blog. Could you give us a high-level introduction to the overall ZC architecture and system setup, with special attention to how it handles the growth of traffic and balancing the load?

Suganya: Zoho Creator is a database-driven application and all the information with respect to the applications created in Zoho Creator is stored in a bunch of tables. You can create an application in the GUI mode or script mode. i.e. The GUI mode and script mode are just two different ways of viewing the application. All the changes that you make in the script mode will get reflected in the GUI and vice versa. And all the changes done in either of the modes will reflect in the live mode. Zoho Creator also includes the Deluge workflow execution engine that executes the deluge action scripts.

Zoho Creator runs on grid of servers and that ensures a high system availability. If there is an increase in the traffic, we need to just add more servers to the grid. We are continually enhancing this system, as we learn from experience, so that we can serve more traffic.

And Raju Vegesna was interviewed by Ashish Sinha of pluGGdin, a site focused on Indian Internet space and Indian startups. From the first part of the interview :

Online office suite – one of the major challenges is convincing the IT depts to use such tools. While Google can always play on “free” software (and brand equity), how do you plan to increase user adoption of Zoho tools? Especially with regards to concerns over data security?
Enterprises with IT Depts are not our target markets. We focus on SMBs (Small and Micro Businesses) who cannot afford a full time IT staff on board. Online applications are ideal for these companies. Zoho essentially becomes an IT department for these SMBs. There is also Home office market. When you purchase a new computer at home, how comfortable are you spending for your office suite that you occasionally use? That’s a great market for us. In fact, ZOHO has derived from SOHO (Small Office and Home Office) which is our target market.

Note that all Zoho tools will remain free for individuals. For businesses, we have some offerings coming soon. Security concerns for online applications will be addressed by different vendors (including us) going forward. It’ll be a non-issue in most cases one year from now.

Thanks to Pete and Ashish!

Zoho: 300,000+ Users

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Zoho now serves over 300K users and we’d like to take a moment to thank you for letting us serve you.

The growth has been really encouraging for the past 22 months. To give you a perspective, it took us 12 months to get to the first 100K users, 6 months for the next 100K users and 4 months for the last 100K users.

We hope to add more value by integrating and enhancing our existing apps along with adding new apps. You’ll see some good announcements from us over the coming weeks.

On behalf of Zoho, I’d like to thank all our users for letting us serve you.

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