Looking to unify software-as-a-service applications with different code bases, Appirio Sept. 3 extended its SAAS integration efforts with new personal and premium editions of its synchronization applications for Google and Salesforce.com.
As the product name implies, the free Appirio Personal Sync allows the user to connect personal Gmail e-mail and calendar systems with his or her company's Salesforce CRM system.
For companies that use Salesforce together with Google Apps, Appirio has created Premium Sync, an upgrade to Appirio's existing free Calendar Sync and Contact Sync for Google Apps.
The Premium subscription-based service brings unlimited synchronization for contacts and calendars, user administration utilities, and support in one package, Narinder Singh, co-founder of Appirio, told me in a recent interview.
The Premium edition software will be priced in monthly and yearly subscriptions. Monthly subscriptions begin at $10 per user for one to 10 users, down to $5 per user for over 500 users. Annual subscriptions are $50 per user for one to 10 users, down to $25 per user for over 500 users.
Why are such tools a big deal? Well, in the rush to plant a stake in the SAAS land grab, companies have deployed thousands of apps and Web services, ideally to lure companies that can't buy IT equipment or afford to employ IT staffs with the promise of hosted business applications.
This is all well and good, but when vendors roll out so many proprietary solutions, there is bound to be more than a little incongruity between SAAS apps. In short, apps from Company A won't talk to, and therefore can't work with, apps from Company B.
This is not a new problem ushered in on the wings of Salesforce.com's SAAS, but the rehash of a classic software problem where apps created from different code bases won't work together.
Recognizing that buddies Salesforce.com and Google are two of the biggest SAAS proponents, Appirio quickly ingratiated itself to both companies by providing Google Gadgets for Salesforce CRM users in June 2007.
The company ratcheted up this Google Gadgets offering in April, creating four SAAS solutions to let Salesforce.com users synchronize calendars, collaborate on marketing campaigns, find and embed documents, and create and share customized CRM dashboards with Google Apps.
Sept. 3 brings the Personal and Premium editions, along with a new business model prototyping service, a four- to eight-week services engagement designed to teach executives at medium to large organizations how cloud computing can boost their business processes.
For example, Author Solutions, a midsize publishing company with 400 employees, moved its business process for helping independent authors publish books to the cloud in five months. Appirio helped Author Solutions build a customized book publishing system on Salesforce.com's Force.com platform to help authors self-publish books.
What are Appirio's future prospects? Great, when you consider that there are hundreds of SAAS providers that desperately need help to integrate their apps with other SAAS providers, or at least to move from classic on-premises models to the cloud.
Few companies do what Appirio does-think of it as a modern Tibco or WebMethods (Singh was at WebMethods for seven years before launching Appirio)-but I expect a legacy software provider that wants to join the cloud to buy Appirio to help with its own migrations to SAAS.
I'm thinking IBM, SAP or Oracle might target Appirio, or at the least, pilfer Appirio's SAAS-savvy consultants.