Microsoft Turns the ‘Scope on SaaS

One of the more interesting conversations I had at the Microsoft Worldwide Partners Conference this week concerned an initiative they have launched to help IT understand – and get under control – proliferating ungoverned SaaS applications. Brad Anderson, Corporate VP for Cloud and Mobility, told the 16,000 attendees that enterprises need help.  “We ask them how many SaaS apps they have in their environment and they usually tell us 30-40. We audit with the Cloud App Discovery tool and find , on average, over 300.” And are these managed? One can only imagine…

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For GoodData, SaaS Changes The Channel Model Too

Last time I mentioned GoodData, it was in passing, as I discussed YouCalc and other SaaS BI players. In the ensuing year, many other toes have been dipped into the water. I sat down with GoodData CEO and founder Roman Stanek and Marketing VP Sam Boonin this week to catch up on how it’s all going, and from where they sit, the news seems to look pretty good. With 40 employees, 25 customers since last November, and a funding round from the likes of Marc Andreesen and Tim O’Reilly, GoodData seems to be off to a GoodStart. And now it has a new initiative: free analytics for other SaaS players to expand its presence. Read more of this post

Informatica Re-Factors the Value Chain for the Cloud

Informatica’s cloud ambitions continue and deepen with each new release. In the years since its 2006 launch, Informatica Cloud, the strategic initiative launched to bring Informatica’s data integration assets to the cloud,  has won salesforce.com’s Best of AppExchange award for 2008 and 2009, added other cloud-based applications as targets, and most significant, signed up 650 clients. Customers like Qualcomm and Toshiba are syncing their SaaS apps with on-premise data, enhancing compliance, and extending their BI capabilities.  In a recent conversation, Darren Cunningham, Vice President, Cloud Marketing told me that Informatica is processing over 30,000 jobs per day, involving over 6.5B rows of data per month. Read more of this post

How the Cloud Will Lead Us to Industrial Computing

From  Judith Hurwitz, president, Hurwitz & Associates (http://jshurwitz.wordpress.com)

I spent the other week at a new conference called Cloud Connect. Being able to spend four days emerged in an industry discussion about cloud computing really allows you to step back and think about where we are with this emerging industry. While it would be possible to write endlessly about all the meeting and conversations I had, you probably wouldn’t have enough time to read all that. So, I’ll spare you and give you the top four things I learned at Cloud Connect. I recommend that you also take a look at Brenda Michelson’s blogs from the event for a lot more detail. I would also refer you to Joe McKendrick’s blog from the event. Read more of this post

Want Broader BI Usage? Crystal Reports Founders Offer Indicee

Mark Cunningham has reunited some of the team that built Crystal Reports (now part of SAP Business Objects) and launched Indicee, a SaaS-based BI reporting play that is pointed squarely at the continuing difficulty of extending BI beyond its seemingly permanent minority usage model.

It’s commonly understood that users continue to fend for themselves manually, moving data to spreadsheets for analytic manipulation because IT is unable to respond quickly enough to their needs. Indicee tackles this by re-using existing report and spreadsheet content (not surprisingly, Crystal reports lead the source list), moving it to the cloud for data mart-based interaction, and innovating a different approach to user interaction. It’s worth a look, and a free download for trial use sweetens the deal. Read more of this post

Programmers: Pervasive’s Parallelization Provides Punch, Profit

After 27 years of steady growth, Austin, Texas-based Pervasive (PVSW) has become a $47M annual run rate software provider. Its portfolio includes a “zero admin, light footprint database” (the former BTrieve, now PervasiveSQL), data integration software (for SaaS and on premises applications), and data synchronization products for such apps as salesforce.com, Quickbooks and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In 2009, it began leveraging its DataRush processing engine as a product, providing a solution for companies that want to take advantage of multicore architectures to drive dramatically enhanced performance on much smaller footprints, for programming data services tasks such as aggregation, de-duplication, cleansing, integration, matching and sorting, as well as data mining and predictive analytics. Read more of this post

SAP Promises Acceleration on a “Clear Path” – Will it Be Enough?

The economic slowdown was not kind to SAP in 2009, and as it launched the annual Influencer Summit on December 8th, change was in the air. Messages were shifting. “Sustainability” got a big push, and there was a ringing commitment to substantial, dramatic product change to be delivered in 2010. Different faces were on display: there was no Leo Apotheker or Bill McDermott on the stage, although Board members Jim Hagemann Snabe and John Schwarz held down the fort with new Marketing EVP Jonathan Becher and CTO Vishal Sikka in key speaking slots. Like the dances I went to in high school, the event was mostly date-free, but direct questions elicited some specific, though uncommitted, statements about deliveries in 2010, especially from Marge Breya. Read more of this post

Xkoto’s Database Virtualization Expands Cloud Opportunities

Xkoto, the database virtualization pioneer, has generated substantial interest since its first deployments in 2006. Still privately held and in investment mode, Xkoto sees profitability on the horizon, but offers no target date, and appears in no hurry. Its progress has been steady: in early 2008, a B round of financing led by GrandBanks Capital allowed a step up to 50 employees as the company crossed the 50 customer mark. 2008 also saw Xkoto adding support for Microsoft SQL Server to its IBM DB2 base. Charlie Ungashick, VP of marketing for Xkoto, says that 2009 has been going well, and the third quarter was quite strong. And at the end of September 2009, Xkoto announced GRIDSCALE version 5.1, which adds new cluster management capabilities to its active-active configuration model, as well as Amazon EC2 availability. Read more of this post

PivotLink, Boomi Join to Break Down Barriers From SaaS BI To Enterprise Apps

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.  Read more of this post

Workday and Vertica: Cracking the 100 Customer Mark

Workday announced today that it has passed the 100-customer mark, and the milestone struck me as another important rite of passage. Such milestones are especially important in emerging markets that have not yet achieved mainstream recognition. In Workday’s case, this arguably represents a substantial step forward in the enterprise-class SaaS-based application market. Following in the successful footsteps of salesforce.com, NetSuite and others, Workday is extending the new SaaS paradigm into human resources and financial applications, with marquee customers such as Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Valspar Corporation  helping them get to this new level of customer success.

Workday is doing this by focusing on delivery; it touts a 120-day average phase-one implementation timeframe. The economic leverage of SaaS solutions, which turn the old “implementation is a multiple of acquisition cost” model on its head, works to Workday’s advantage, but only if it can deliver. In its press release, Workday points to a 38-day implementation cycle for Stone River as an example of its nimble deployment model. While it’s unlikely that this happens often, it’s an impressive benchmark nonetheless.

The note reminded me of recent conversations with Vertica, a firm attempting to help drive a similar mainstream status for the emerging ADBMS market. My conversations with Dave Menninger and others at Vertica have given me a perspective not unlike that of AMR’s Jeffrey Freyermuth, who recently concluded that Workday was about to crack the barrier. With its own big name wins like JP Morgan Chase and Verizon, and a steady cadence of product releases, Vertica has been on a roll. As Q3 began, they were approaching 90 customers, and I’m aware of several wins in recent weeks, which leads me to believe that they are rapidly approaching a similar moment in their growth. And the hill Vertica must climb is steeper: they are a more traditionally licensed, high-cost enterprise software platform without some of the built-in advantages of Workday’s SaaS approach.

I’ve talked elsewhere about Vertica’s technical innovations; its 3.5 release added substantially to a growing list of features. But the true test of credibility for a company in an emerging space is its ability to deliver those features to customers, and keep them happy. Vertica has invested steadily and wisely to ramp up sales and marketing efforts. Marketing is a critical component, but punchy campaigns and flashy web sites mean nothing unless companies buy and keep investing in a technology. As it approaches the 100-customer mark, Vertica has proven that it is delivering what enterprises want – fast database technology that solves real-world business problems. Like Workday, it may be following some larger pioneers, but it’s carving out a leadership role for itself at a rapid pace. I’m watching with interest to see how well it holds its momentum in Q4 and beyond.