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10/16/2008
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SaaS Integration Specialists Find Their Niches

From appliances to integration wizards, they're providing plenty of choices.

Several models have emerged to deliver software-as-a-service integration. And many providers of these new products got their start solving traditional software integration problems.

Bob Moul, CEO at Boomi, describes his company's service as "middleware in the cloud." A user, typically a systems analyst, signs on to the Web-based Boomi service and uses pre-built connectors and process maps to link an on-site application with a software service, or link two software services. Boomi offers connectors for Intuit, Taleo, and dozens more SaaS vendors, and generic connectors for common systems a customer might have on site, such as Oracle databases. Once a process is mapped, it's loaded into a runtime engine called an Atom, which is downloaded at a customer site, or hosted by Boomi if it's a SaaS-to-SaaS connection. Moul joined the company in 2005, to help founder and CTO Rick Nucci move the company from a provider of on-site integration to the SaaS market. Each application connection costs $65 to $495 a month.

Cast Iron Systems also started in conventional integration, launching an application router appliance in 2003 with Fred Meyer, the former chief strategist at Tibco Software, as its CEO. Now its primary product is SaaS integration appliances, small servers programmed to let companies integrate on-site applications with a SaaS service. Current CEO Ken Comee used to head sales at CollabNet, a provider of online development tools.

Cast Iron's appliance promises drag-and-drop integrations between RightNow, Salesforce.com, Taleo, and other SaaS vendors, and on-site applications from companies including Lawson, Oracle, and SAP. Last week, the company announced Cast Iron Cloud, a service that lets companies access templates to connect and monitor some SaaS applications online. It's an alternative for companies that don't want to purchase an appliance. The price starts at $1,000 per month per integration.

Consulting company Bluewolf, started in 2000, is one of a growing group of smaller firms shifting more and more focus to Salesforce integrations. That includes selling its Bluewolf Integrator, a wizard-based integration tool, via Salesforce's Force.com AppExchange portal, as well as offering SaaS applications for various industries, such as insurance and advertising, on the Force.com platform. The Bluewolf Integrator starts at $20,000 a year.

Companies with experience doing data integration for large companies, including Informatica and Pervasive, also are paying more attention to helping customers do SaaS integrations. In June, Informatica rolled out a Web-based service for integrating Salesforce with on-site applications using wizards and drag-and-drop functions. The online data loading tool is free; its online data replication and data quality assessment services for use with Salesforce integrations each cost $500 per administrator per month.

Illustration by Sek Leung

Return to the story:
SaaS Integration: Real-World Problems, And How CIOs Are Solving Them

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