Cloud // Software as a Service
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John Foley
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20 Cloud Computing Startups You Should Know

Young companies are emerging as software and service providers in the cloud. These newcomers can help you deploy and manage IT resources in new ways.

Front Lines Of Cloudsourcing

Appirio believes that within five to 10 years, some companies will move their entire IT infrastructures to the cloud. It's betting they'll need help getting there.

The 2-year-old startup specializes in cloud integration, migration, application development, and consulting services, and it offers Web storage and applications to sync data between cloud services.

Interested in moving your on-premises business apps to run on Amazon Web Services or's Appirio can help with that. It's establishing partnerships with cloud service providers--Amazon, Google, and Salesforce, for starters--to complement its own application development and integration expertise.

With nearly 100 employees, Appirio is backed by Sequoia and led by a group of WebMethods veterans, including CEO Chris Barbin, VP of marketing and technology Narinder Singh, and chief architect Jason Ouellette. "We accelerate companies' moves to on-demand," Barbin says. "The technology is there. The question the CIO is raising is, 'How?'"

Appirio's products and services, partnerships with cloud and SaaS providers, and expertise in application integration in the cloud are a unique mix, and give it a head start against potential competitors such as IBM and Wipro Technologies, Barbin says. The company is already profitable, and its expanding customer list includes Honeywell, Lincoln Financial Group, and the 2008 Republican National Convention. It's done consulting or application development for 100 businesses, with more than 40 implementations of Google Apps.

One of Appirio's first application development customers was self-service publisher Author Solutions. For a fee, writers can have Author Solutions edit, print, and distribute their books through stores such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon. When CEO Kevin Weiss took over the rapidly growing $50 million-a-year company in January, he found its IT systems "being held together by Band-Aids and chewing gum." Now, transactions, the marketing system, proofreading, content uploads, and even workflow for the publishing capabilities all take place in a app that Appirio helped build.

"It's an order of magnitude less time to add more product, change the way we present data to customers, or integrate an acquisition," Weiss says. The company's new way of doing business also is a way to attract technical talent, since it's on the cutting edge of on-demand IT, he says.

Barbin admits that we're still in the early days of cloud computing, and that many companies simply aren't ready to make the move. Large services firms loom as eventual competitors, and the major software vendors are looking to jump into the cloud, too.

"Cloudsourcing's not going to be for everybody," he says, "but just like you saw a wave of people outsourcing, you'll see it here."

-- J. Nicholas Hoover

Young companies are emerging as software and service providers in the cloud. These newcomers can help you deploy and manage IT resources in new ways.
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