Archive for the ‘SaaS’ Category

EditGrid launches team access with subscription plan

February 14, 2007

The HongKong based web-based spreadsheet service provider EditGrid has finally come out of its year long beta and launched a subscription service for companies and organizations. Pricing is similar to the Salesforce integration that EditGrid had launched last month- $5/user/month. Good part of this new change is that the service still stays free for personal users.

EditGrid today also released genuine numbers of the user-base growth. They currently have 19500+ total registered users out of which 15K are personal and 4.5K users come from 200 companies using EditGrid at their workplace. I think the latter number clearly tells that companies are looking to go beyond the standard Microsoft offerings to cut down costs and make data accessible to their users anywhere anytime. And not to forget the ability for multiple people to edit and collaborate on the same sheet at the same time.

Even in the Office20 space, Google might win majority of the market share by bundling GOffice with Gmail accounts and Apps for domains, but there is plenty of room for determined startups to launch and exist. Especially if you look at EditGrid’s localization strategy which enabled it to reach out to people in 30+ countries. If they forge right kind of partnerships even in couple of emerging countries like India or China or Brazil, EditGrid can be a huge success. For instance, EditGrid talking with for a rollout on Rajesh Jain’s Novatium netPC would be a great idea.

EditGrid does Salesforce integration
EditGrid Spreadsheets now has Live Chat





New players in Office20 space

February 12, 2007

Couple of exciting startups in the Office20 space are shaping up. First is Slideaware which would be launching the beta of its presentation platform. From what I heard, it should function as a storage and management platform for presentations created using Microsoft Powerpoint.

Second is Waltham, MA based Virtual Ubiquity, which is quietly building its web-based word processor to take on Google/Writely and off course Microsoft Word. Virtual Ubiquity claims to be externally funded and looking to launch sometime this year. These guys should be really serious about their marketing and monetization plans to justify the funding, or might end up being another easy prey for Google or Microsoft. On the other hand, Virtual Ubiquity can force Google to aggressively push forward its development efforts for GOffice, which has not seen the kind of innovation we had expected. To start with GOffice site really drags these days, offline mode is in works for forever, spell/grammar check sucks, and there is no news about GDocs API.

IT Managers: Buy yourself a 6thSense

January 31, 2007

Yeah you are reading it right. As an IT Manager, you might always wonder – How much time your development team is actually spending on developing the product? What is the actual usage of the development tools/IDEs so that you can cut down on the non-essentials? How your development team compares to others in the community? And many more questions related to performance and usage metrics. So while the really insightful managers, with the so called 6thSense, can glean the right information from what they are being reported, others are left out to play the guessing game by looking at hurriedly filled Friday timesheets. With increased level of outsourcing it adds another dimension to judge how many hours are actually spent by your outsourcing partners.

Research Triangle, North Carolina based 6thSenseAnalytics takes out this guessing and approximation game and presents you with the real usage stats. The hosted solution from 6thSense plugs-in data collectors into most of the major IDEs like Eclipse and Visual Studio to enable On-Demand tracking. Co-founded in November of 2005 by Greg Burnell, and Todd Olson, 6thSense has till date received $5 million in Series A round of funding from Core Capital, and $1.7 million in seed funding from Intersouth Partners for their SaaS solution.

With the new release of 6thSense coming this week they will be introducing around 5000 pre-built reports making much easier for managers to track activity from the account dashboards. Some of broad domains touched by these reports provide aggregated times spent per project, team, activity, and technology. The data collected can be used from micro to macro analysis. On the micro-side managers can track activity of their developers. Reports at 6thSense makes use of the “Active Time” concept, which shows exactly how much time an individual contributor spends interacting with software development tools to design, develop, test or debug each specific project. These reports from 6thSense should prove to be very effective in understanding contributions and efforts of an individual towards key organizational initiatives.

On the macro-scale, managers can track the complete development effort for a project which can make future estimations and comparisons to initial estimates easier. Using the 6thSense reports, CTO can present exact reports to his CEO at their level of investment in each of the primary systems that comprise their application portfolio.

6thSense also has application on the licensing compliance end. Number of the enterprise software licensing based on per seat basis. Sooner or later there are most installations floating around than the company is licensed for. Not each of these installs might be under active use. 6thSense data collectors can aid companies in tracking down this activity and getting rid redundant installs of costly softwares. 6thSense also has an community side to the service. The service provides completely anonymous data(all community date is “de-identified” and cannot be associated back to any specific 6th Sense customer) from the community of all 6th Sense users. This makes it very easy to compare your development effort data and perform comparative analytics.

6thSense service is priced very competitively at $960/user/year with no extra charges for the number of data-collectors used. With no server side product to install and availability of SDK to build data collectors for specialized products, 6thSense can provide real value at a tiny price.


Newsgator goes On-Demand

January 25, 2007

Earlier in the week Newsgator launched On-Demand version of its Newsgator Enterprise product(NGEOD). As expected the product target is SMBs who want to more information delivered to their workers whether it is feeds from other enterprise products or just internal company news sources without the need to install and maintain another product locally. NGEOD will be offered as an white label product with the option for companies to add their logo and color schemes. Pricing seems to be pretty competitive at $99/user/year. However no news if you can hookup your LDAP groups with the application.

Since I am an existing Newsgator product user, I trust Newsgator and think NGEOD will work perfectly without major issues from the product standpoint. Since the product is currently in early beta I would like to mention my thoughts on NGEOD and On-Demand products in general. As I had written before, an On-Demand offering has to be On-Demand(OD) in all spheres. Yesterday’s post by Ken Rudin on LucidEra’s blog provides more direction on this. More thoughts from my side – Startups should make sure that their product pricing and checkout button are among one of the top tasks before they actually do a public beta. You can’t be practically be asking people to fill out your contact-us forms and keep them waiting till your sales team gets to them. Get the instant gratification point right.

Another feature OD startups should really spend their time on is defining their target markets very clearly and putting that online. With the first look, customers should be able to associate themselves with your product and be ready to take their credit card out , and give your product a try. And this is not needed just during the initial sales. Showing tips for relevant connectors/adaptors to existing customers has to built into your site. Relevant and quick 2-3 minutes learning videos are another must have. To get this gluey interface right, startups might have to get a UI and learning people specializing in doing just these tasks.

Also, lately there has been a rise of enterprise ended OD products. One of the best ways these startups can differentiate themselves with the existing license based counterparts is to clearly put down how much human resources are practically required to use and support your product. If you application doesn’t require the use of Developer or DBA or System Admin or Storage engineer at all, put that down. But if it requires even10% of the time, let’s say for a Business Analyst, I think the customer would like to know that during their trial phase. And please give the real estimates(not like car mileages derived in optimal driving conditions).

Newsgator On-Demand

Cognos, BusinessObjects scramble for SaaS BI. Really?

January 18, 2007

Recently there has been lot of stir in the Enterprise software market related to SaaS, which has forced enterprise vendors make acquisitions of smaller SaaS players, or so as they call themselves. Last month Business Objects acquired NSite and yesterday Cognos went ahead and bought privately held Celequest. Lets look at both the acquisitions closely.

Celequest is basically a real-time information monitoring solution that provides real-time operational dashboards. Celequest gains traction more on the Fortune 500 companies side who might want to get up-to date analytics of their business. Coming to the real point, Cognos news release claims:

Celequest is the industry’s only dashboarding solution to be offered as an appliance or via a Software as a Service (SaaS) model

I am not sure since when putting a software on an appliance qualified it to be a SaaS service. Appliance located either on the client location or on Cognos data center doesn’t mean that the application itself becomes an On-Demand offering.

Coming to BusinessObjects acquisition of NSite- NSite basically is a transaction oriented platform or as they say an On demand, self service Quote, Proposal and Channel Management solutions. Following is an excerpt from the BO press release:

………the world’s leading provider of business intelligence (BI) solutions, today announced it has acquired NSite Software, Inc., a Sunnyvale, California-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) provider. The acquisition gives Business Objects access to NSite’s on-demand application platform; engineering talent experienced in building and managing SaaS offerings; and approximately 27,000 current NSite subscribers.

 Agreed that NSite does offer SaaS kind of service, but  I am not sure how BusinessObjects core BI/Reporting products align with NSite platform which in other words enables SMBs to build forms-based applications. BO getting access to NSite’s 27,000 customers is great idea, but what will BO do with them. Try selling them client-server based CrystalReports?

On-Demand and SaaS means an easy to use product(mostly web-based), very clear product matrix, a well defined pricing strategy that offers considerable savings compared to existing products, and a fully hosted solution where client doesn’t even have to think about storage, maintenance, and upgrades. Looking at companies like Cognos, BO, Informatica, Hyperion,… they are far off from the On-Demand path. Even if they do come up with some kind of SaaS capabilities, it is going to be really-really tough for these enterprise vendors to kill their existing revenue streams based on long-term licensing whose price was never justified in first place. Days of pulling off million dollar half-baked product sales deal are going to be over pretty soon. On web where prices are very flexible and it costs a fraction to try out new products, customers will stay only if the product delivers real ROI. Also confusing customers by branding non-SaaS solutions as SaaS is never going to work in the long run.


EditGrid does Salesforce integration

January 12, 2007

After more than a year in making EditGrid has launched its integration with Salesforce and also for the first time introduced consumer side pricing for the web-based spreadsheets(only for SF users). EditGrid in SF comes with all the existing spreadsheet features with additional ability to open view, edit and share Salesforce reports using EditGrid. This great piece of integration comes at a tiny price of $5 month per user.

EditGrid joins the group of some of the most innovative and timely Salesforce AppExchange integrations that I have covered till date which include EchoSign, Koral, CentralDesktop, and Spanning Salesforce. Salesforce with its user oriented approach provides the best breeding ground for these productivity apps that can rattle enterprise class players Microsoft, IBM, EMC, and others. For a small price users can get first hand experience of the productivity tools which they feel are important in their everyday workplace. This methodology goes opposite to the existing mind set, where users need to wait on their IT Managers to go through the entire review process before dumping the product ’cause of high licensing and maintenance costs. A high-featured spreadsheet that has no upgrade pains associated but instead gives you the advantage of new features getting rolled in automatically all for $5 is THE bargain you should grab without even thinking twice.

EditGrid Spreadsheets now has Live Chat

EditGrid on AppExchange

Koral launches desktop beta and upgrades

December 26, 2006

Koral, the Enterprise20 Content Management startup about which I had written few months back, has added a bunch of features that makes it one of the best SMB apps along with EchoSign to emerge this year. Besides the new features, Koral has has upgraded its hardware that made the on-Demand application really fast responsive, which is nice change from what I had experienced when I tried it for the first time when it was in the real beta stage.

Koral Desktop, the newly released desktop uploader has the task of uploading files simpler. Once you are done with updating your document, all you need to is drag-drop the updated file into the java desktop app, and Koral automatically updates the file on the server. Koral’s “document identification” alerts the rest of the people with whom the document is shared about the availability of the updated version either through their subscription mechanism or when they try editing the outdated copy.

Other changes at Koral include an upgraded search functionality that enables filtering of results by the document type(Word, ppt,….), tag, authors, wordspace,…… Koral user-administration module also has been upgraded to enable linked-in style of user management and change/modify users and their access to workspaces.

My favorite feature still remains the ability to view powerpoint slideshows on Koral web-app itself instead of downloading them and realizing that you are editing the wrong document. Being able to view word and xls snapshots is also in the works, that should see light of the day pretty soon.