• OneLogin – Single Sign On for the Enterprise


    After my recent post about LastPass,  Thomas Pedersen, a Zendesk alumnus and founder of SaaS password management tool OneLogin flicked me an email with an invitation to try out their product. OneLogin works via a browser extension which effectively pastes the credentials into your application and logs you in. OneLogin supports all major browsers – IE, Chrome, Firefox and Safari.onelogin

    Using OneLogin is simple – you click on the extension, and you’re presented with a dashboard displaying all the applications you have access to. From there you simply click on the particular app you want and it logs you straight in. For even higher level protection, you can use two factor authentication with a yubikey. And, unsurprisingly considering it’s enterprise focus, OneLogin supports Active Directory and LDAP

    apps OneLogin supports a huge number of apps – and more are being added all the time based on customer demand.

    For organizations that use a number of SaaS apps, OneLogin gives administrators the ability to centrally manage application access for their users.

    Of course OneLogin can only be used (out of the box) with the applications it’s currently integrated with, I put this to Pedersen, suggesting that tools like LastPass would lessen the broad appeal of OneLogin. His response:

    LastPass (saw your post by the way) is definitely consumer and doesn’t address many of the issues we do. The big difference is that OneLogin deals with apps as structured entities that have logical properties (such does this app support SAML? Does this app support OpenID? Do we require an extra auth step for this app?), while LastPass is still just a form-filler.

    I went on to suggest that the recently announced Google Apps Marketplace, with it’s out of the box SSO offering, would also eat into OneLogin’s addressable market. Again Pedersen countered with an argument saying:

    I think it’s natural to conclude as you did, but I don’t think SSO is really Google‘s focus. It’s just something that makes their marketplace work better… there are many apps that will never be on Google’s marketplace and we provide functionality that they don’t. Many of our customers use 15-25 different apps, most of which will never be there.

    Pedersen went on to name a slew of use-cases that Google’s Marketplace approach would not work for:

    • Multiple logins to the same app (we have customers with multiple different logins per app)
    • Shared logins (for FedEx, GoToMeeting, Twitter etc)
    • Active Directory integration
    • Integration with in-house, behind-the-firewall apps
    • Two-factor authentication
    • SAML

    Anyway – as a service OneLogin works fine. For my own use LastPass suits me fine but remember that I’m not an enterprise user – those working with large numbers of users that need lots of apps provisioned at once, and attracted to a central application dashboard would do well to give OneLogin a look over – the fact that it can be used with on-premise applications really plays into the hands of it becoming a powerful complete application management offering.

     Update – Scott McMullan from Google contact me to clarify that:

    Marketplace apps that SSO to Google Apps using OpenID DO work in the following scenarios:
    1) company is using LDAP/Active Directory (this is because Google Apps supports SAML integration in to these dirs, which the Marketplace apps then “pick up for free”)

    2) SAML (see above) 




    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • Personal and Business Finance – Blurring the Lines


    I posted a year or so ago that:

    the distinction between personal and business finance is pretty blurred

    It was a call for micro and small business accounting vendors to offer a personal finance service in the acknowledgement that most micro businesses have an increasingly blurred line between personal and business expenses. As I said at the time:

    Almost all micro businesses I know use a personal credit card for business expenses – sure that can be solved via expense claims but that’s not really in keeping with the actuality. Similarly most micro businesses that require funding achieve it by using their personal equity to guarantee debt – again removing personal finances from this business finance model ignores this fact.

    I was pleased to see then the other day that Xero’s (see disclosure) new personal finance offering really addresses this issue in the most logical way – giving users the ability to post business expenses incurred on a personal bank account through to the business.

    It works like this:

    As a personal finance user, you categorize a transaction as a business expense and then you’re given the option to send a receipt to whichever particular organization it may relate to (yup – believe it or not people are involved in multiple businesses):


    You’re then able to choose the organization the invoice relates to and include some information in the description field:


    You hit Send Expense Claim and now a draft receipt will be in your business organization:


    Your transaction will also update inside Xero Personal to show that your claim has been sent:


    So simple but so enabling – it’s little things like this that can save lots of time and effort for SMBs. Of course it would be even better if one could split expenses – ie 30% of my power bill become a business expense. So many use cases, so little time….

    Friendly contacts have ensured that I’m part of the beta program – I’ll be taking it through its paces and, once it’s ready for roll out, I’ll post a detail review.

    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • MYOB Goes SaaS…. Again


    I wrote almost a couple of years ago now about MYOB’s (see disclosure statement) first foray into the world of SaaS. I wasn’t overly impressed, saying at the time that:

    MYOB has the experience, the money and the clout to bring a product to market with the features that users need. Under this measure MYOB has failed, if it’s true that this has been a five year project, BBO is a failure.

    Since then lots has happened – MYOB has been sold to a private equity firm. The product head for BBO, Stuart Bale was poached by (and subsequently let go from) Xero and meanwhile BBO has pretty much stood derelict and orphaned.

    Come April MYOB are going to it again and will be releasing their MYOB Live Accounts product. The Sydney Morning Herald have trumpeted about the move but, as is often the way with traditional media, haven’t understood some of the subtleties that give a story context. They also quote MYOB’s CTO saying that the product is built on Microsoft Azure however I have it from a source within MYOB that this is not in fact the case.

    So what can we expect form this product? An MYOB reseller newsletter that came across my desk this week gave some minor details – pricing around NZD35, a pared down offering focused on sole traders and the like and leveraging heavily the automatic bank feeds that are Xero’s main differentiator.

    I’d expect to see, similar to the previous MYOB SaaS product, an offering that serves the invoicing and expenses parts of the business with little on the “richer” parts of the desktop offering (inventory, financial reporting etc). I’d also expect MYOB to leverage the excellent relationships it has with banks in Australia and New Zealand in order to cut a blow into Xero’s self-proclaimed position as “thought-leader” in this particular space.

    I can’t imagine it having any real impact on that other Australasian SaaS vendor Saasu – of the three, the Saasu product is the most fully featured and I’d imagine MYOB’s product would come in well below this in terms of functionality.

    Watch this space for a more detailed review once I’ve seen the product.

    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • For SMBs, Automation is King. Saasu Delivers Some


    Small and medium businesses are inherently time poor. As such any tool that automates their processes is a good thing. Those who aren’t involved in business would look at automatic bank feeds (such as those offered by Xero) as a fun toy, but little more than that. This fails to appreciate just how much of a difference automation can make to an organization where, more often than not, the accounts person is also the main operative, the HR person and the legal department all rolled in to one.

    During the recent CloudCamp in Sydney I had the chance to catch up with Marc Lehman, CEO at SaaS accounting provider Saasu (more on Saasu here). Marc and I talked about where Saasu is at, both from a business and from a product perspective. Much of what we discussed I’m not at liberty to write about, but one feature – soon to be released – Marc was happy for me to talk about.

    Saasu has an interesting approach in that they give customers the ability to create and use multiple templates within the application and also create CSS/HTML designs to add apply to these templates. More than a lightweight user skin however, these templates give users the ability to customize the look and feel of many parts of the application.

    Saasu are about to release a new statement engine that leverages this template functionality and delivers real benefits to their customers. The statement engine enables a whole host of automated features including:

    • the automation of payment reminders
    • the ability to automatically send monthly statements
    • the ability to run subscription billing from the application
    • the facilitation of debtors collection (otherwise known as dunning) r28-statements-engine

    While I’d not entirely agree that the functionality Saasu has introduced would drive complete subscription and billing from within the application (subscription and billing is highly complex – see this whitepaper we recently published), the functionality that Saasu offers gives businesses with a simple recurring revenue model the ability to automate their processes.

    More importantly it enables them to manage their cashflow and allows them to chase shoddy payers with almost no intervention required – a double win for all.

    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • Google Docs Meets Outlook? – Yes, You Read That Right!


    Let’s face it – despite significant hand-waving to the contrary, Microsoft Outlook is the default email client for the vast majority of the enterprise world. No matter how much people love to hate the fact, Outlook is both widely understood and the accepted norm. I’ve talked to a number of people involved in deploying Google apps into enterprise sites and often the case is that this is in fact an infrastructure play – the organization uses Google as an exchange replacement but maintains its existing desktop clients.

    This situation is a huge barrier to Google apps proper gaining traction – users are unlikely to edit a Google apps document, only to have to jump through hoops in order to collaborate on that document with others – as vendor MainSoft asks, what happens when you use Microsoft Outlook for e-mail, and you’re interested in using Google Docs?  Is SharePoint + Google Docs:  An Oxymoron? Not anymore, and this is an announcement that even I, jaded as I am from product pitches, am getting excited about.

    Harmony for Google Docs

    Effective today, Mainsoft is offering full-featured access to Google Docs documents directly from within Microsoft Outlook.  Their belief is that e-mail and document collaboration sites need to work together seamlessly – so end users can be more productive. They’re also planning to give away software that offers full-featured access to SharePoint document libraries, within Microsoft Outlook. So to reiterate – full use of Google docs within Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft SharePoint – tools enterprise users are used to, with the significant benefits that the cloud brings.

    The Mainsoft product is called Harmony and will be a free product and has been built using SharePoint Web Services interfaces and Google Docs open APIs, giving full-featured access to Google Docs or SharePoint documents from an Outlook sidebar.  Users can

    share, locate, and manage centralized documents directly from their e-mail client.

      A brief overview of the features that are available for Outlook and SharePoint users:

    From within Outlook, people can:

    • Publish and share document links:
    • Drag documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and PDF files to the Harmony sidebar to upload them to Google Docs.

    Harmony for Google Docs Sharing dialog

    • Share documents automatically.  Drag Google document links to a new e-mail message, and Harmony will automatically share it with recipients listed in the user’s Outlook or Gmail address books. The email sender decides whether each email recipient gets read or editing rights to the online documents.  Recipients can view and edit the documents on Google Docs, using a free Google account.

    Harmony for Google Docs Replace Attachments

    • Replace attachments with links and send e-mail, in one step. When composing or forwarding an e-mail with attachments, Harmony prompts the user to publish the documents online and send a link instead.
    • Find documents from the convenience of e-mail:
    • Search the contents of users’ entire collection of Google Docs documents from the Harmony search bar.
    • Locate documents users have permission to access using views, folders, sorting, and starred documents.
    • Work on Google Docs documents:
    • Organize documents in folders; star, share, rename, or hide them.
    • Open and edit Google Docs documents in Outlook, including Microsoft Office, PDF, and Open Office formats.

    Of course the question this raises is why on earth this is a free product. This would seem to solve such a pain point (at least for Google resellers and, I’d imagine, for Google also although they’re unlikely to admit it) that Mainsoft should have people more than willing to pay for the product. Mainsoft CEO Yaacov Cohen told me that their strategy is a freemium one – the current product is free but future products that will include functionality that IT departments want (granular control, permissioning, central admin etc) will potentially be paid. I’m not sure if I’m convinced about this approach – Harmony provides significant value today (heck, the saving in traffic by not emailing attachments alone is significant for a large organization) that I believe they’d be able to monetize from day one.

    Either way I’m really impressed by what Mainsoft have created with Harmony and I’m marking them as a company to watch.


    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • SherpaTools, Channel Strategies and Google Apps Management


    CloudSherpas is a systems integrator and application developer that almost exclusively deals with Google Apps (they’re a high performing Google Apps Partner having moved over 80000 users to Google Apps to date). I spent a bit of time talking…

    Read more

  • Central Desktop Rolls Out Big Changes to their UI


    Central Desktop (more on them here)  is today unveiling version 2.0 of its offering that is delivering an entire new user interface for it’s customers. A quick update on the past year for Central Desktop:

    • 44% year-over-year growth in revenue (gross bookings)
    • Employee growth from 20 to 30 employees
    • Hundreds of new Enterprise Edition customers
    • Q4 2009 Enterprise Edition sales compared to Q4 2008 increased by more than 600%
    • Released Microsoft Outlook plug-in
    • Micro-blogging feature (Status updates syndicated to Twitter and Facebook)
    • Extended global performance via Akamai’s content delivery network

    With this new version, Central Desktop delivers a redesigned, intuitive user interface, and introduces several new features including an online file viewing enhancement. Online file viewing is a high profile area after box.net coined the term “cloud content management” a month or so ago.

    The new features of Central Desktop 2.0 include:

    • New User Interface – Central Desktop’s user interface has been completely redesigned to provide a more user-friendly experience. The new layout includes a workspace creation wizard, workspace templating, new drop down menus, customizable tabs and configurable settings.


    • Online File Viewer – The expanded file preview feature supports 189 different file types including Microsoft Office files, PDFs, JPEGs, TIFs, CAD files and Adobe Photoshop files. All files are also accompanied by a thumbnail image for an at-a-glance immediate preview and the ability to comment on files without having to download them to the desktop.


    • Improved Wiki Navigation – One-click wiki page creation and page navigation enhancements – Wiki pages can be rearranged by simply dragging and dropping pages within a wiki tree, giving a hierarchical structure to ordinarily flat wiki pages.
    • PDF Creator – Convert, download and share any file type – including images – as a PDF with a single click directly from Central Desktop.
    • Internal Blogs and Forums – A corporate blog, project blog or discussion forum can be created quickly and used to share thoughts, make announcements or capture the evolution of ideas and projects.


    • Page Favorites – Frequently visited pages or files can be marked as favorites for quicker access.


    • Avatars – Central Desktop 2.0 uses avatars throughout the platform to identify users and accompany their recent activity.

    I’ve used a bunch of online collaboration platforms and while they all vary on the continuum  from lightweight to rich, one consistent factor has been their lack of usability for shop-floor workers. With the brief play I had of Central Desktop, I’m impressed at the user experience factors that they’ve obviously considered when designing this new UI. This new focus should see them able to branch out into different, and more mainstream, markets. As CEO Isaac Garcia said when I spoke with him:

    Our top priority is creating a collaboration solution that balances utility with usability to increase user adoption for our customers… Going forward, we will continue to build on our 2.0 platform to create turn-key, customizable solutions that target specific industries and customer segments.”

    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • Zoho Invoice 2.0 Unwraps

    Zoho has just unveiled the next generation release of its invoice product. The two most notable changes are the inclusion of a nice business-logic dashboard, and the addition of expenses to the offering.

    zoho inv2

    Generally the UI has been greatly improved – there is nice use of tabs as opposed to separate boxes for further information on a particular invoice (payments, history, emails etc)


    The expenses module is what you’d expect – I was particularly please to see that it allows for billable expenses to be on-charged to customers – an eminently logical and time-saving feature that is inexplicably missing in other offerings.


    I talked with Zoho evangelist, Raju Vegesna to get Zoho’s perspective on what these functional changes mean in the long term. Vegesna was quick to articulate that the product will not evolve into an Accounting app but that they did fully intend to keep adding features to this app though. 

    Behind the scenes Zoho has included much-needed support for multi user access – currently there are two permission levels: administrator and staff. Hopefully with time more granular permissioning will become available.

    Zoho has previously been more about integration with its own internal products that about creating open APIs to let the world integrate with it – it was a strategy directly opposite to that which the The Small Business Web folks are pursuing with their call for open APIs. Interestingly in this release Zoho has opened up the application with an API – it’ll be fascinating to see what third party integrations that delivers.

    In the case of their own internal apps, Vegesna advised that Zoho Invoice will integrate with other Zoho apps tightly. CRM will be the first followed by Zoho Mail. Specifically the Email History feature in Invoice 2.0 integrates at a high level, but apparently it will go deeper with Zoho Mail going forward.

    Interestingly Zoho recently (and pretty much silently) rolled out CRM & Quickbooks integration it shows something of a desire to play with the outside world, and to accept that integration with external apps (especially such stalwarts as Quickbooks, is an imperative. Zoho intends to also integrate invoice with Quickbooks – and in doing so will be going head to head with the other SaaS invoicing providers.

    Finally Zoho intends to offer its invoice product to Google Apps users moving forward in a similar way to how they offer Projects, CRM & Meeting for Google apps.

    All in all this iteration of Zoho invoice is a far more intuitive one, the addition of expenses really rounds out the product and makes it a viable option for freelancers and small service and product businesses.

    (Disclosure – CloudAve is solely sponsored by Zoho, however I cover all accounting applications, have previously reviewed Zoho Invoice 1.0 and as such need to update my information. Suffice it to say this is my own opinion untainted by any commercial bias.

    On another note, we’ve been planning to publish this at 6am PST, the planned release time.  But now that the news is out, there’s no point in holding back. Oh, the fun of embargoes)

    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • Dropbox – Envisaging a Future Well Beyond Files


    I’ve been talking a lot recently to cloud storage, cloud synchronization and cloud backup vendors (all variations on a theme but they all have a different emphasis to what they do).

    Recently I had a couple of opportunities to talk with Dropbox, first with founder Drew Houston, and later with recently appointed SVP Marketing and Sales, Adam Gross.

    First some history, Dropbox, founded in 2007 out of the Y Combinator is a file sharing and synchronization product now backed by Sequoia Capital and Accel Partners. In its first seven months it grew impressively – expanding from 100000 users to 1 million. In the past seven months it’s continued its stellar rise, having north of 3 million users now.

    When I asked Houston to differentiate his product from the other offerings, he did so by making two comparisons:

    1. The big boys haven’t made a product that users really love
    2. Dropbox is (in his opinion) far simpler than the other startup offerings

    I took a deeper dive when talking to Gross, who parsed their product in terms of situational storage, and pointed out that the metric of importance to Dropbox is the number of devices per person – while today that stands at two for many people (PC and smartphone), Gross recounted his experience at this years CES show where almost every product on display had a network connection – it’s when this vision of hyper connectedness is realized that Dropbox sees itself really starting to change the way things happen.

    At face value, cloud storage is kind of.. boring. I asked Gross what takes a seven year SFDC veteran into a startup like Dropbox. Gross went on to describe his own personal opinion that in the future, successful online storage will be a sort of a mesh that contextualizes the data passing through is into something of relevance to any particular device. He talked of data that will be:

    ubiquitous and seamlessly available no matter what device is being used

    The holy grail then is a kind of semantic nirvana where. for example, I could view a recipe on my online storage platform and my refrigerator can automatically evaluate what ingredients I have and what I need to buy and then pass that information onto my smartphone or directly to an e-tailer. It’s this sort of vision that keeps the Dropbox crew inspired.

    Of course all that is decades (or at least a decade) away – until then Dropbox need to create a product that people actually want to use, and somehow figure out how to make some money out of people using it. To this end, beyond the aspirational discussion above, prospective users need to know how Dropbox works as a product. Well it works just fine – like other offerings of this type I’ve reviewed – Dropbox does a stellar job of just doing what it does in the background – it just works. Of course this is something of a barrier to uptake – Dropbox is remarkable quite simply becuase it is unremarkable – it’s the sort of product people forget about (until it isn’t available any more!)

    In terms of dollars, Dropbox uses a freemium approach. A 2GB account is free while it’s $10 and $20 for the step up to 50GB and 100GB respectively. As a comparison, Syncplicity, whilch also has a free 2GB account, is $15 for 50GB (it has to be said that Syncplicity is integrated with web apps such as Google docs).

    I have Dropbox and Syncplicity running side by side on my three laptops and one desktop – and they both worked fine. I also use SugarSync from time to time – you can’t say I don’t have all my bases covered! There were the usual hassles when folders got shifted – from time to time I’d have to perform a complete sync. Most of this has to do with user interference rather than a failing of the products per se.

    So who will “win”? Well luckily for all concerned this is a big space and is in no way a zero sum game. There’s plenty of room for all concerned to carve out a niche. Most important will be for the vendors to define exactly what their message is, stick to that message and execute well. Watch this space.

    CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

    Read more

  • Yuuguu Takes on the Corporate Market


      Last week Yuuguu (previous coverage here) lifted the wraps on its corporate edition, a tool that brings together web conferencing, a business-class instant messenger and presence via a single, customizable and secure collaboration platform.

      Yuuguu is tailoring their offering to corporate users by giving them some added features, namely:

    • the ability to embed web conferencing into an organization’s website
    • simplified scheduling
    • custom branding of web conferencing sessions
    • enhanced session security
    • a fully integrated toll free audio conferencing service.

      It’s a busy space, at one end Yuuguu has still competition from Webex and Cisco’s Presence products, at the other they go up against Skype and its ilk. I asked Anish Kapoor, CEO of Yuuguu how they intended differentiating themselves a space in this busy niche. His response was as expected:

      In terms of where the new service sits, its really aimed at organisations who have outgrown the simpler web conferencing services, are fed up of the complexity with scheduling of the larger players, want to start to brand their web conferencing, especially for sales, and don’t want to scale up to a full blown Unified Communications offering.

      I further quizzed Kapoor about what time of businesses Yuuguu is targeting, his response:

      We see a very valuable mid-market segment to the web-conferencing sector. Our sweet spot is 100-500 desktop organisations…as these tend to want better, more integrated web conferencing rather than the full blown unified communications play of a WebEx/Microsoft/IBM. So we see a very substantial market for a web conferencing solution which fixes the problems the mid-market faces….which are:

      a. Better support for sales teams – hence our focus on instant sessions, no downloads for participants and simplifying scheduling

      b. Having a collaboration tool for the entire business – hence our additional focus on presence, messaging, compliance and ease of external deployment

      The new offering is priced at 25 USD/GBP/EUR per month. For organisation wide pricing Yuuguu discount’s this price heavily to give a much lower price per seat, again Kapoor sees this as a differentiator saying:

    …Yuuguu is cheaper than the alternatives by some margin…particularly when companies roll out Yuuguu to all their employees. MS Live Meeting is cheaper than Yuuguu, but does not solve the two issues identified above.

    Time will tell whether there’s enough of a space in the marketplace for Yuuguu to prove successful.


        CloudAve is exclusively sponsored by

        Read more