"At first, I thought CloudSpokes was for real programmers," he recalls. But after participating for a year, he's sharpened his skills in Web languages, plus Salesforce.com's Apex language and its VisualForce user interface, while drifting away from the aging Cold Fusion. Even more important, he's "Twitter buddies" with a couple of similar thinking programmers, plus there are other individuals whose code he has come to respect and learn from through successive submissions.
"I used to go there because I was bored or looking for something to do," he said in an interview. "Now I realize it's a nice gathering point for the best and brightest."
Singh, in an interview, said CloudSpokes has become a development site where work on cloud applications can be outsourced. Appirio itself will put up parts of projects that it's been contracted to complete to see whether one of the 35,000 developers now registered to CloudSpokes will solve a piece of a puzzle for them. Instead of outsourcing, he calls it Appirio's crowdsourcing.
Appirio staff developers work alongside a customer's IT, showing how cloud technologies can be harnessed. Some of those customers include Home Depot, Workday, International Hotels Group, L'Oreal, NetApp, Starbucks, Thomson Reuters, and Medtronic.
Singh said regardless of the project, it must be intended for deployment on public cloud, infrastructure-as-a-service for Appirio to get involved.
CloudSpokes itself was contracted out to seven developers, who produced it for Microsoft's Windows Azure. But the initial barebones developer forum didn't last very long. Dave Messenger, Appirio's CloudSpokes chief architect, said in an interview that the way it got upgraded illustrates the approach Appirio hopes to take more frequently in cloud development.
The participating developers produced many revisions and additions to the site until part of it was in Azure, part on Amazon, part on Salesforce.com's Force.com platform, and part in Google App Engine. All the parts work together, he said.
Appirio's mission with the fresh $60 million in funding is to take the breakthroughs in integration and deployment that cloud computing allows and deliver its power to the companies that also want to use them. Salesforce, Workday, and Facebook have shown what can be done by capitalizing on the reach of Web technologies. "We want to take it upmarket. We want to disrupt the legacy, on-premises application business" with more cloud application innovations, Singh said.
Older generation systems-integration and IT-consulting firms, some of which have shown some street smarts in updating their own acts, are Appirio's main competition. They would include Accenture, CSC, Deloitte, IDM Services, and GSI Group.
But Singh believes few firms have the experience, the cloud management software assets, and track record that Appirio has compiled. And now it's got the money as well.
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