Appirio: Cloud Makes Global Systems Integrators Obsolete

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Narinder Singh, co-founder of cloud integrator Appirio, reached out directly to CIOs in a blog entry today to explain in no uncertain terms just how critical the global cloud system integrator model is to the future of IT – and just how painfully obsolete the existing global systems integrator business has become.

“After the first World War, the French constructed the Maginot Line – a set of fortifications, tanks obstacles and other fixed positions to defend the country.  It was ‘extolled as a work of genius‘ up until the point of World War II, when it became clear that armies were structurally more mobile and agile than ever before.  The Maginot Line was essentially driven around and France was successfully invaded in just a few days.  The global systems integrator model is the Maginot Line of the cloud world,” writes Singh.

It’s a long, 2,000-word blog entry. But Singh’s points more-or-less break down as follows:

  • The cloud’s first wave of disruption shook up the on-premises software market. There’s a second disruption coming, and it’ll do the same to the on-premises services ecosystem – when an enterprise deploys, say, a SAP ERP system, the project can take years and years, but enterprises are waking up to the fact that the cloud can provide value in weeks.
  • When that disruption occurs, the global systems integrators (GSIs) will be left behind –  it’s built around overcoming barriers that don’t exist anymore, and global service providers, like, oh, Appirio are already up to speed on new business realities. This accounts for rivalries between pure-SaaS companies like Salesforce.com and recent cloud entrants like Oracle.
  •  For their part, CIOs need to demand that speed and agility from the service providers they do business with. Moreover, those same CIOs need to be aware that rigidly-structured governance (“PMOs upon PMOs,” as Singh puts it) can hamper cloud adoption – “Use cloud technologies to enable iteration and micro failures that will lead to macro level success.”
  • But most of all, Singh says that it’s important to remember that between social and mobile functionalities the cloud brings new opportunities and new ways to boost a business. What was a “best practice” before may now just be holding you back.

Services Angle

In conversation, “agility” is a word that Singh uses a lot when discussing Appirio. It’s something that Appirio prides itself on: its CloudSpokes developer community, consisting of 35,000 developers-for-hire who compete to solve interesting cloud problems, often finds itself coming up with solutions for Appirio’s own cloud integration hurdles.

Appirio is one of the most visible partners to Google, Workday and especially Salesforce.com. With this appeal to CIOs, Appirio is making its goals and values for the cloud especially clear.

With Salesforce throwing its Cloudforce event here in San Francisco later this week, expect more from Appirio sooner rather than later – especially since fellow Salesforce.com partner GlobalOne recently merged with Google specialist Cloud Sherpas to create a cloud integration monolith.