Interview with Christophe Loungueville, Vice President of Sale and Marketing of porthus

Q: Can you explain the activities of Porthus?
ChL: Porthus is an OnDemand IT solution provider, enabling organizations to manage their complex business processes across company boundaries. The company leverages innovative technologies and software solutions to enable its customers to interact and conduct business with their clients, employees, public authorities and business partners in a reliable, cost-effective and secure way.

Christophe Longueville was appointed Vice President of Sales & Marketing when he joined Porthus in 2004. Longueville is responsible for global direct and indirect sales and drives all corporate and product marketing initiatives. Longueville brings more than ten years of commercial and management experience to Porthus. Prior to joining the company, Longueville was Field Operations Manager and Sales Director at SAP Belux. He held positions as corporate banker at BBL and ING and senior account executive for the financial industry at Belgacom.Longueville earned a Master's Degree in Civil Engineering in Electro technology and holds a Master's Degree in Finance from the Catholic University of Louvain.
photo: Courtesy of porthus

Q: Can you explain the activities of Porthus?

ChL:Porthus is an OnDemand IT solution provider, enabling organizations to manage their complex business processes across company boundaries. The company leverages innovative technologies and software solutions to enable its customers to interact and conduct business with their clients, employees, public authorities and business partners in a reliable, cost-effective and secure way.

In addition to its own developed software applications, Porthus also offers third-party applications but only in the context of a project, not as a separate business. All its software applications centrally hosted and managed are directly accessible through the internet and offer users full flexibility because they can use the software "on demand".

One concrete example: on the Belgian telecom market, the transferability of phone numbers is a right for the customers. When a transfer is happening, the new provider indicates in the Porthus-application that the new number doesn't belong any more to the old provider. In the databases of all the other providers, a switch is automatically generated so that the provider of the people who call the customer knows that the phone number is to be found at the new provider.

Q: Can you explain

ChL Porthus develops, hosts and manages software applications on a central platform,, and offers the use of this infrastructure as a service to its customers. This service is typically priced on a per-user or a per-transaction basis. The platform is tailored to meet the specific needs and demands of various industries.

Data center

Porthus operates a number of different data centers to host a portfolio of diverse applications. The different data centers are aggregated as one virtual data center, which Porthus operates as a fault-tolerant and secure infrastructure. Porthus provides permanent monitoring of all infrastructure, communications and applications.

Communication Hub

On top of the data center infrastructure, Porthus developed an infrastructure allowing organizations to communicate with their customers, partners and suppliers, regardless of the communication Hub protocols used by each individual business partner.

Application Platform

On top of this communication infrastructure, Porthus provides a portfolio of applications ranging from standard Microsoft applications to very specific applications such as Supply Chain Management (SCM) software, or specific applications for electronic customs declarations.

Q: What is the role of Porthus Slovakia?

ChL: The role of Porthus Slovakia is twofold.

During the last 2 years Porthus has created an operations center in Slovakia with currently 24 people. The operations center contains a new data center and monitoring facilities. The operation team works on a 24hrs/24hrs and 7days/7days principle since the team is monitoring and supporting the installed base of Porthus throughout Europe. This team is fully integrated with the managed services department of the Porthus group.

Furthermore Porthus has started commercial operations on the local Slovak market in order to serve the market with its solutions. Thanks to the presence of the operational center of Porthus in Slovakia, Slovakian customers can fully benefit from the services of this entity. Within this respect Porthus SK collaborates with Porthus' corporate partners such as Microsoft and Citrix on the local Slovak market. Porthus is a Gold certified Microsoft and Citrix Gold partner. Porthus SK can fully leverage on the best practices and the methodologies developed at the Porthus headquarters during the last 6 years. The commercial and the professional services team is based in Bratislava.

Q: Why would companies not invest in their own software and choose an OnDemand IT solution?

A: Companies have become more and more dependent on sophisticated software applications to run their businesses but many organizations are not satisfied with the return on their investments. Deploying new business applications and keeping them fully operational has taken them more effort, time and money than they had anticipated. In addition, a growing number of businesses exchange data and information across company boundaries, resulting in an increasing volume of transactions and messages in B2B environments. These interactions involve complex business processes and require high quality professionals, experienced in designing, developing, integrating, maintaining and managing such solutions. More and more businesses turn to OnDemand solution providers to help them implement and manage these solutions.

The advantages of an OnDemand Solution are numerous and enable companies to focus on their core-business rather than managing sophisticated applications.

* Companies will outsource the management of their complex business processes and will be charged on a per-user/per-transaction basis (a predictable and

therefore manageable cost).

* An OnDemand Solution eliminates the need for any additional IT infrastructure investments and significantly increases application reliability, security and scalability

(limited infrastructure investments yet guaranteed backup and redundant IT infrastructure).

* Instead of hiring high quality IT professionals to manage and support sophisticated applications, companies can rely on the specialists at their OnDemand Solution provider (limited IT headcount).

Q: Porthus recently successfully raised its capital by means of an IPO. What will Porthus do with the proceeds from the IPO?

ChL Porthus intends to grow its business, both in terms of its leading solutions as well as on an international operational level, which means expanding its customer base. The proceeds will be used for working capital, capital spending and possible investments or acquisitions.

Q: What are Porthus' competitive differentiators?

ChL: Porthus has a strong focus on Business to Business and provides tailored on-demand solutions for B2B environments in key markets. Porthus is well positioned to take advantage of the surge in B2B electronic messaging and Porthus' technology is based on state-of-the-art Internet standards.

Q: Who are the different competitors for the different Porthus solutions?

ChL: On the Belgian home market of Porthus, there are few Application Service Providers with the same broad range of offered services such as Porthus. A company with a similar offering in the domain of managed services is a company called Dedigate. This company provides hosting, managed services and also provides access to 'software as a service' offerings for business applications like ERP and CRM systems. Dedigate was acquired by Terremark Worldwide, Inc in August of 2005. While Dedigate has more of a focus on providing hosting services, Porthus is more active in providing value added applications of a higher complexity and degree of customisation.

In the domain of B2B integration services, the only local company that has a similar offering to Porthus is CertiPost. CertiPost is a joint venture between Belgacom and the Belgian Post Group.

On a European level, there is a more competitive environment, but very few players who actually have a full-range European service. The European landscape is very fragmented. Players such as Influe in France still largely depend on the home market, while companies such as Seeburger in Germany and Kewill in the UK have taken specific niche-product offerings on a more European level.

In the US, the B2B integration business has evolved more quickly which resulted in significantly larger players. One of the key players is Sterling Commerce, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. Sterling has more than 2,000 employees, but is not very strong in Europe, with for example no presence in the Benelux.

Q: Where are Porthus' clients hosted? Where are the data centres located?

ChL The hosting servers are located in Belgium and Slovakia. But Porthus doesn't host all client applications in its own data centres. Porthus also manages some data centres at the site of the client.

Q: What about data security, system and infrastructure redundancy?

ChL: As we are dealing with applications which are critical to the businesses of our clients, everything is controlled and audited by the client twice a year. Our infrastructures are secure, redundantly built and certified.

Q: What are the market drivers?


* Increased outsourcing of complex business processes

* Strong increase in EU and trade regulations

* Saas is becoming a mature model

* Increased communication and data exchange between businesses

* Internet standards dominate the information exchanges

* Connectivity between companies is becoming reliable and secure

Q: Which differentiators will make Porthus successful on a European level?

ChL Porthus is a one-stop-solution provider. Porthus has the first mover advantage in the retail, utilities, telecom and logistics sector.

Porthus has a profound knowledge and track record of the business where it is competing. Porthus offers a combination of managed services, professional services and software.

Q: What is Porthus' growth strategy?

ChL: Porthus' goal is to expand its position by further strengthening its customer relationships, increasing its customer base in the targeted industries (retail, telecom, utility, logistics and media) by expanding geographically and investing in sales capacity.

The geographical roll-out will in general be based on the principle of "follow the customer", and will be implemented through acquisition and investments in new and existing subsidiaries. First of all we will continue investments in the Netherlands and the UK; and later on focus on France, Central Europe and Germany.

Porthus wants to develop more Value Added OnDemand Solutions on top of the B2B platform, such as Customs Solutions, for various markets.

The strategic drivers are investment leverage, operational excellence and innovative solutions.

Our growth strategy really depends on the current situation in a specific country. Each investment, be it Greenfield or M&A will be carefully investigated and assessed. Different factors will be taken into account, market size, market maturity, key players, existing partnerships or other business development opportunities...

Q: Which countries are priorities in Porthus' international growth?

ChL: Different factors must be taken into account, market size, market maturity, key players, existing partnerships or other business development opportunities when considering international expansion... Basically we will be looking at the key, high-growth countries where Porthus currently has no or a weak (indirect) presence.

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