July 1, 2010
I spent some time recently talking with Ismael Ghalimi – CEO of Intalio. Intalio has been around for a number of years but has been something of a quiet performer – Ghalimi wishes to change this with the new Intalio product range. From their website, Intalio is a company that:
provides an integrated portfolio of applications for cloud computing. Our products can be deployed on premises for maximum security and control, or on public clouds such as AWS. Applications developed with Intalio|Cloud are elastic and multi-tenant, automatically.
I’d not heard from Ghalimi for a couple of years, since the 2008 Office 2.0 conference (an event which is, sadly, no longer). He’s always had a very holistic vision for office 2.0 and was excited to say that the latest offering from Intalio realizes that vision. So what does this actually mean in terms of a product lineup? Ghalimi referred me to the diagram below. Now this diagram looks very much like a million other diagrams out there that explain what Cloud Computing is – separating the different levels of the stack into IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Nothing revolutionary in that you say? That is until you realize that this isn’t an ecosystem diagram, rather this is a diagram of the breadth of offering available from Intalio themselves.
Now this would be an impressive lineup from a Microsoft, an IBM or an Amazon, but this comes from a privately held company with only 100 employees. I talked to Ghalimi about the massive challenges he’s facing when explaining his offering – sometimes breadth is a much more difficult thing to articulate than a point solution. It’s obvious from his reply that Ghalimi is nothing if not confident. In a response reminiscent of Marc Benioff, Ghalimi instructed me to:
Think of our offering as an operating system for the cloud. Much like Windows, it needs to provide some core services (compute, storage, database) and development tools. And without a killer application (Office for Windows, CRM for us), it would be kinda useless, or at the very least much harder to use.
In another stroke of confidence (confidence given the comparative size between a public cloud behemoth like Amazon and Intalio itself), Ghalimi said that:
[Intalio gives the] benefits of the cloud without the limitations of the public cloud
On the PaaS level, Intalio has been built using the same structure as Salesforce’s AppExchange. Becuase of this, AppExchange applications can be run on Intalio using whatever delivery method the customer likes – private, public or virtual cloud and single or multi tenant.
Anyway – looking more generally, Intalio’s play reminded me somewhat of what Zoho is doing. They too have a very broad product offering – covering all of the SaaS applications with a fair dose of PaaS to go with that. So how does Intalio contrast themselves with Zoho. Ghalimi articulated the difference quite simply, saying:
they focus on Public Cloud delivery. We offer Public and Private, as well as support for Hybrid Clouds:
With a caveat that, in his understanding, Zoho is available for private cloud “if the organization is big enough”. Intalio is entirely agnostic in terms of delivery method – it can be run on public, private or hybrid clouds and has the ability to be either single or multi-tenanted to meet the demands of all use cases.
It’s an interesting play and mirrors (at least to a certain extent) the direction taken by salesforce.com who started off firmly at the SaaS level (with the salesforce app) moved down to PaaS (force.com) and has recently moved further down the stack into IaaS (VMForce). The vast difference between salesforce and Intalio is that the former is a billion dollar business with thousands of employees and significant traction in the enterprise. They can leverage this traction to gain business at other levels in the stack. Intalio, by contrast, despite having been around for years is very much still in startup mode and, despite some impressive customer names on the front page of their site (Zimbra, Finnair and Facebook among others) are something of an unknown.
It’s an eminently logical approach – tie all levels of the stack into one offering and give customers the options in terms of delivery. It is however hard to see how a small player like Intalio can pull it off, and it’s unlikely that Intalio would be much of an acquisition target, there’s very few vendors out there who don’t have a serious product overlap with Intalio.