Most people have heard the term NIMBY – “not in my backyard” – associated with a new factory, rehab facility or Walmart coming to their neighborhood. “Keep them away from here – let them stay over there.” The same phenomenon often applies to organizations that have adopted their first SaaS application when it comes time to integrate the content with other apps, or a BI environment. The notion of mixing on-premise with off-premise can be very daunting, with technical, cultural and resource issues throwing up barriers to effective integration. PivotLink, a SaaS BI provider approaching its 100th customer logo with some marquee names already on board, and Boomi, with successful integrations of cloud and on-premise applications for 250 clients since January 2008, have joined forces to tackle this problem.
Both companies have been experiencing rapid growth. Bob Moul, CEO of Boomi, tells me that he feels a tipping point has been reached for cloud-based products. Boomi began with on-premise application integration, and was doing well with it. The sales motion made sense :
We followed the apps guys in,” Moul told me. “Once their apps were in, they were being asked how to integrate. They were happy to work with us. The premise was much simpler for them – connect once to us, and we’ll take care of connections to the other sources.”
After a few years of reasonable success and a few hundred customer wins, the epiphany came as customers started to ask about how to connect to salesforce.com and other SaaS applications. Given Boomi’s generally mid-market target, the fit was obvious – even POS and supply chain systems are moving to the cloud, but how to connect them to other systems for effective BI? By now, Boomi had developed connectors to over 70 data sources, as well as files, which is very useful for XML data-based systems like Workday. Categories supported include Human Resource Management (PeopleSoft and Workday), CRM (Siebel and salesforce.com), ERP (SAP, Oracle and NetSuite), and Marketing Automation (Aprimo and Marketo).
Meanwhile, PivotLink was watching the value proposition for SaaS BI take off: in a constrained CAPEX environment, and with mid-market companies struggling with inadequate IT resources, its time-to-value story was gaining great traction. Dyke Henson, PivotLink’s CMO, tells me that in 2008, the firm grew 100%, and in the first 6 months of 2009, revenue was already at 75% of last year. PivotLink’s model is designed to be viral – with a web-based delivery model, a columnar, in-memory database for rapid performance, and a visual environment for quick, IT-free development of reports and dashboards. The distribution model brings information to customers’ upstream and downstream partners too – their suppliers, customers, etc. For example, Shaklee has 5000 independent distributors using PivotLink – their response time has gone from 18 minutes to 8 seconds, and the licensing model works to keep costs down. PivotLink’s Google gadget allows users to do cloud-to-cloud distribution and lets recipients put reports right into their own Google home pages. By contrast to expensive legacy product licensing, PivotLink is “less than a latte per day” for each user, Henson likes to say. And the old knee-jerk objections to SaaS are diminishing, he says: PivotLink tackles the security question with SAS 70 – Type II Certification, and that’s one barrier that’s falling as acceptance of the model grows in the marketplace.
The two partners’ joint solution accelerates time to value further, by making it easy to combine data from cloud sources and packaged applications without IT developing and maintaining separate connectors. The partnership creates end-to-end integration and interoperability across SaaS and on-premise applications in the Boomi AtomSphere, which the company calls an integration Platform-as-a-Service, and PivotLink likes to call a multi-tenant connector model. The solution also streamlines access to ODBC databases including IBM DB2, Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server, as well as XML-based data sources and applications in industries such as financial services and insurance. Is this a Barney agreement? (“I love you, you love me, let’s do a joint press releaaassse…”) No – there is significant IP development involved, serious joint marketing and selling activity being undertaken, and a commitment to supporting their joint customers. Welcome to the new neighborhood.