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Check out the Bentley Systems website and you’ll understand the following riddle: It’s invisible, but you see it every day.

What are the folks at Bentley talking about? Infrastructure – that often under-noticed framework of structures, systems, and solutions on which we literally build our lives.

Infrastructure, Hard and Soft

Infrastructure comes in many forms. Obviously, it includes our roads and bridges, telecommunications systems, electrical grids, and water supplies. These elements are actually relatively easy to see. But software solutions are also a critical part of the infrastructure framework.

As a software provider to architects, engineers, geospatial professionals, and construction personnel, Bentley knows a lot about both hard and soft infrastructure.

“We build comprehensive software to support the infrastructure lifecycle in a variety of markets worldwide,” explains Kiran Koons, Bentley Systems’ director of enterprise solutions.

In fact, Bentley operates from 50 different global locations. And the company’s software has played a crucial role in complex projects around the world – from the construction of a supercritical thermal power plant in India to the salvage operations to raise the Costa Concordia cruise ship wrecked off the coast of Italy.

Using the Right Technology for the Job

Bentley recognizes that some infrastructure is as solid as steel; some is as ethereal as a cloud. The important thing is having the right technology for the job.

Or should that be technologies?

To support its own sales operations, for example, Bentley is using business solutions that combine both on-premise and cloud-based technologies. Specifically, this includes the complete integration of an on-premise SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) application with the SAP Cloud for Sales solution using SAP HANA Cloud Integration technology.

“We are using this solution to manage the entire sales cycle,” says Koons, “from account and contact management to activities, leads, and opportunities management for all our sales globally.”

Using the existing SAP CRM infrastructure while transitioning other aspects of the solution to the cloud is improving the speed and power of the systems overall.

This new approach to sales support provides Bentley’s global sales teams with mobile access to client information anytime, anywhere. Client interactions are now more relevant and meaningful, and this has resulted in better service to a worldwide customer base.

The Bridge to Simplicity

“This hybrid solution allows us to use our business processes as we see fit,” says Lew Reed, VP of global sales operations at Bentley Systems. “Solutions like this help us simplify a very complicated business.”

Bentley Systems serves as a great example. Whether you are building a bridge or a successful business, it all starts with infrastructure.

As Bentley will tell you, without infrastructure, “we are separated, exposed, adrift, and a long way from home.”

For more information and personal stories about SAP HANA, please visit IT & Me.

Please follow me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.