We are excited to highlight our most active customer experts and their learnings in these Customer Spotlight interviews. In this inaugural Customer Spotlight interview, we are excited to feature Nathan Hart, Development Manager at NextGear Capital, a Cox Automotive Company.
Describe your role at NextGear Capital?
I started as a Software Engineer NextGear Capital nearly 3 years ago. After being in that role for a short time, I transitioned to become a Development Manager for the Integrations team. In my current role I manage a team of seven developers and work cross functionally with both product and development teams to ensure our products are integrated, reliable and providing value to our organization. It is here at NextGear that I started using Hitachi Vantara’s Pentaho platform.
What does NextGear do and how do you utilize Hitachi Vantara’s solutions?
Part of Cox Automotive, NextGear Capital provides financing to car dealerships. With the help of the Pentaho product, NextGear Capital has made a name for itself through our commitment to service, customer-centric solutions and innovation. Over 22,000 dealer clients worldwide are empowered to quickly and easily floor plan new and used inventory from over 1,000 auto and specialty auctions in addition to inventory sources throughout the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Ireland.
My team specifically works with our external partners to ensure we can effectively share and access the right data at any time. Additionally, we work with other members of the Cox Automotive (CAI) family, and many third parties. We have approximately 80 jobs currently in production. Our data includes finances, inventory, unit status (where a car is located) and credit scores.
Pentaho is critical to this role at NextGear. We rely on the flexibility and reliability we get to help us integrate with many other systems. The jobs we currently support vary from simple flat file to database loads, to complex transformations involving many financial systems. Pentaho allows us to provide insights, even from a variety of data sources, without much setup. We are moving away from our older monolithic database system to microservices, and Pentaho has allowed us to pull data from any source.
How has Pentaho changed your career?
Pentaho has helped my career tremendously. I had no prior experience with Pentaho when I first joined NextGear and the Integration team. My prior experience with ETL was challenging and difficult to maintain. Changing data sources, or adding new fields to a data flow could be very challenging. By learning Pentaho, I was introduced to a new way in interacting and maintaining data and data sources. The flexibility offered by the steps available (and even more in the marketplace), meant most tasks could be accomplished out of the box without much customization required. As Pentaho’s platform is built on Java, if we need to custom build something, it’s very easy for our development team to implement. This opened us up to more re-usability and improved our cycle time.
Can you share one best practice from working with Pentaho?
The biggest shift in our thinking, and the one with the greatest benefit, was when we made our work modular. This was especially true with the usage of submappings. The ability to split out common transformations that we had and reuse across our jobs was a big win. The gains for modular design in Hitachi Vantara’s Pentaho platform are the same as with any development practice – testing, re-usability, flexibility, and scalability. A great example of this is an initialization subtask all our jobs call – changes to the subtask were immediately used by every existing job. We now have a library of about 118 different custom-built utilities that we can plug in anywhere without having to re-test them. Realizing we didn’t have to build a custom solution for every job was a game changer as it really sped up our development times and our standard operating procedures.
Click here to learn more about what we have done by accessing the slides I presented at PentahoWorld 2017
What’s next for you and your team at NextGear?
The largest initiative on our horizon is to further integrate with CAI. As an enterprise, there are a lot of systems with similar or overlapping data which are not connected. We are working on pooling that data, matching it, and making it accessible to throughout the organization. Pentaho plays a large role in this epic on the NextGear side.
You attended PentahoWorld 2017. Tell us about your experience there.
PentahoWorld 2017 was a new and eye-opening experience for me. I was able to meet a lot of Pentaho users where we could share our learnings and best practices. While it is very easy to work in a silo, I realize you miss out on key learnings and solutions from other users.
The sessions and interactions allowed me to learn from others as well as share advice on what we have accomplished at NextGear. I enjoyed hearing about the Pentaho product roadmap and learn about related technologies. Attending the conference made me realize there are other capabilities in the Pentaho suite that we might be able to leverage to improve our processes.
To learn more about Nathan listen to his CUBE interview from PentahoWorld. Click here to view the interview.
Do you have a story you want to share? Please reach out to Caitlin Croft to learn how you can be featured. Caitlin.Croft@hitachivantara.com
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