Appirio: Crowdsourcing crucial for scaling cloud projects

When ZDNet last checked on the progress of the CloudSpokes development community last fall, there were 50,000 members. That number has now topped 73,000, and counting.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

With more than 500 enterprise cloud customers to its name, San Francisco-based Appirio is one of the better-known players in the cloud integrator community, even though it only employs about 600 people outright. But co-founder and chief strategy officer Narinder Singh knows he can't compete with legacy integrators like Accenture with his on-staff numbers, which is why his company created the CloudSpokes crowdsourced development platform almost two years ago

When ZDNet contributor Dennis Howlett chatted with Singh last fall, there were approximately 50,000 developers participating in the community. When I caught up with him two weeks ago, that number had eclipsed 73,000.

If you haven't read ZDNet's past coverage about CloudSpokes, the idea is for enterprises to use the site to help develop specific applications that plug in to broader platforms by running challenges to see what already exists and might be reusable. More than 600 challenges have been completed so far.

"You know somewhere in the world that someone else did something like what you need, maybe even just last week," Singh said.

The original plan was to use CloudSpokes as a supplement to Appirio's own resources, but a healthy development community has built up around several well-known cloud platforms, including Salesforce.com, Box and DocuSign, he said. That visibility reflects positively on Appirio.

"I really believe in our own asset library, but I feel it's difficult for customers to understand who is the best without references," Singh said. "CloudSpokes helps give us credibility."

Appirio itself is currently concentrating on solutions and projects surrounding Salesforce.com, Workday, Google Apps and Cornerstone. As Larry Dignan reported in early February, the company grew 50 percent year over year during 2012. It signed more than 100 customers in the last 12 months alone, including 1-800-Flowers.com, Intuit, Kelly Services, Manpower, The McGraw Hill Company, The Men's Warehouse, Sprouts Farmers Markets and Virgin America.

The company also cemented its expertise around human capital management (HCM) applications by buying Knowledge Infusion, and it picked up another $60 million in venture capital to advance this year's growth agenda.

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