Appirio's eat-your-own-dogfood SaaS integration

Specialist on-demand integrator Appirio runs its business on an integrated application infrastructure that's completely on-demand. There's not a single on-premise application in the mix.

Specialist on-demand integrator Appirio runs its business on an integrated application infrastructure that's completely on-demand. There's not a single on-premise application in the mix. I'm always impressed when a company runs its own business on the same technology it makes a living from selling to others. It inspires confidence that its management and staff really understand what it means to rely on and work with their own merchandise.

Appirio's infrastructure is also a great showcase for its on-demand interation talents. The diagram below shows how the company has connected half-a-dozen different services to provide end-to-end automation of transactions within its business, starting from sales enquiries coming from Google AdWords into Salesforce.com for prospect tracking, then into QuickBooks Online for general ledger processing. QuickBooks in turn is linked to the bank account at Wells Fargo, while employee benefits and payroll connect into KTBSOnline.com, another online service.

Diagram of Appirio's integrated on-demand infrastructure


Co-founder Narinder Singh recently described the advantages in the company's newsletter and a related blog posting:

"Appirio's approach to our own IT infrastructure relies completely on SaaS solutions; thus reducing out hardware, network, and software cost to a minimum ...

"We pay nothing for our collaboration infrastructure, and reasonable costs for the services our transactional systems provide. Our costs ramp smoothly — we pay for additional capabilities as we use them. We never invest upfront, hoping for some future value. Benefits come in real time ...

"Nothing will need to be swapped out as we grow except perhaps financials (would love to see Quickbooks use SaaS to finally move up market). We do not deploy a single server, our IT costs are tiny, and we spend relatively more on cutting edge solutions that directly improve our business."

For collaboration, Appirio uses Google Apps and Blogger for email, calendaring and company website, JotSpot as an employee wiki/intranet, LiveOffice for teleconferencing, Skype for telephony and Meebo for IM. All of those applications are currently free-of-charge.

Singh tells me the company is also keen to make use of Amazon's EC2 and S3 services as it further develops its own offerings. This feeds into Appirio's vision of Services 2.0, as described in a recent Sandhill.com editorial by the company's CEO Chris Barbin. Singh emphasized that developing and productizing the company's expertise in SaaS integration is an important part of the strategy.