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San Mateo startup joins market seeking to simplify cloud computing

By Joe Ciolli | 19 Nov 2010

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San Mateo-based Appirio is one of several companies that offers cloud computing solutions. (Photo: Joe Ciolli)

With the rise of software-as-a-service applications (SaaS), also known as software on demand, corporate IT departments are increasingly able to add computing capacity on the fly — or on the cloud, to be exact.

Cloud computing is done in real time, over the Internet, eliminating the costly need to expand servers, purchase more software or hire additional staff. But a new set of complications has emerged. Now, time and money previously spent installing software and updating infrastructure is being used to integrate the SaaS applications.

Because companies often run multiple programs simultaneously, the process can be tricky, which has given rise to a secondary market of solution providers.

Appirio, a San Mateo-based startup, aims to consolidate SaaS usage through its recently announced CloudWorks product. It is designed to consolidate popular cloud applications such as Salesforce Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Google Apps and Workday into a single platform.

Several other companies — Celigo, Eucalyptus Systems and Parascale — are inventing ways to simplify SaaS usage as well.

“Think of how powerful it would it be to have all of this valuable data that’s locked away in all your different SaaS applications brought to you in the context of how you’re doing your day-to-day work,” said Ryan Nichols, vice president of product management and marketing at Appirio. As on-demand software continues to increase in popularity, he said, there is an emerging market for optimization products.

Nichols sees room for CloudWorks to grow as it becomes compatible with more cloud applications. CloudWorks has been a major investment for Appirio, which refers to itself as a cloud solution provider, serving as an intermediary between applications and their users. “It’s by sitting in the middle that we’re able to add a lot of value,” Nichols said.

Appirio, founded in 2006, brands itself as the rare Silicon Valley startup that offers both products and services. According to Nichols, the company has employees out in the marketplace assessing client service needs. This information is then used to craft the products offered by Appirio, which serves more than 5,000 companies.

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