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Cloud consultancy Appirio scores $60m VC wad

Wasn't cloud supposed to be a snap?

If cloud computing and SaaS applications were supposed to be so much easier than managing on-premise applications, how come we need a cloud consultancy like Appirio? The answer is simple: Integration, or the lack thereof. And that is why Appirio has been able to score $60m in its fourth round of venture capital funding.

Appirio was founded in 2006 by Chris Barbin, the company's CEO and formerly the CIO at software development tool maker Borland Software. Other founders include Narinder Singh, the company's chief strategy officer and formerly in the same role in the office of the CEO at application software giant SAP and previously in charge of R&D, sales, and marketing at the workflow business unit of webMethods.

Glenn Weinstein, the company's CTO, ran tech support and services at Borland and was a US Navy flight officer before beginning consulting gigs at Lockheed Martin and Artesia Technologies. The fourth founder of Appirio is Mike O'Brien, who is senior vice-prez of strategic operations and who was VP of professional services for Borland and was previously a nuclear engineer for the US Navy.

Appirio has nearly 500 employees and is based in San Mateo, California. It doesn't make cloudy software of its own, but it does stand up and integrate various SaaS applications on behalf of customers.

The company has done over 1,000 cloud engagements with more than 300 customers to date. The company has expertise with Salesforce.com's Sales Cloud sales and marketing app as well as its Service Cloud for customer service and support and has implemented the apps for more than 100 customers each.

Appirio also has a practice centered around Workday, the online human resources and financial applications created by Dave Duffield, the founder of PeopleSoft, in the wake of Oracle snapping up PeopleSoft with so much drama after an 18-month takeover battle back in 2004. The consultancy also has a practice focused on the Google Apps stack, which it sets up for large enterprises and educational institutions, among other corporate clients; it has created over 1 million Google Apps seats to date on behalf of customers.

Appirio has done some software development that is part of its consulting engagements, including CloudSync, which integrates contact and calendar information between Salesforce.com apps and Google mail and calendar apps, and CloudFactor, a plug-in for Google Apps that automagically loads Salesforce.com data based on the context of the email or calendar event you are viewing. The company will also do custom app development and deploy those apps onto Amazon's EC2 compute clouds if that is what customers want to do.

To help spur better cloudy app integration, Appirio also sponsors a project called CloudSpokes, which is a crowdsourcing development project where members of the CloudSpokes community propose integration projects and then solicit funds to actually pay developers to do the integration work.

The projects generally run on Amazon's Web Services, VMware's Cloud Foundry, Salesforce.com's Force.com and Heroku platforms, or Google's App Engine, and are typically done in the Apex, HTML5, Java, JavaScript, Objective-C, Python, or Ruby programming languages. There are 35,149 members of CloudSpokes today, and 1,335 projects have been submitted with 180 of them actually completed and paid for. At the moment, there are a dozen integration "challenges" open worth $18,275, if you are looking for some cash.

Speaking of cash, Appirio now has $60m more of it, thanks to an infusion from General Atlantic Partners, Sequoia Capital, and GGV Capital. The company raised $16.7m in its prior three rounds, including an initial investment from Salesforce.com and angel investor Howard Brown, followed up by rounds with Sequoia and GVC. General Atlantic is new this time around, and the haul is much larger, too.

In December 2011, thanks in part to those earlier cash infusions, Appirio snapped up Saaspoint, a British cloudy app consultancy based in London that was founded by early Salesforce.com employees in 2005 and that had grown to 100 employees of its own as it built up a book of business in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and on the Continent. Saaspoint had raised $2m of its own from Enterprise Ireland in October 2008.

Being privately held, Appirio does not report its financials, but it did say that revenues grew by more than 80 per cent in 2011 and that it has brought more than 1.5 million users online using cloudy apps to date. ®

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