Welcome to day 2 of the SaaScon 2008 conference blog report. I took a bit of a different tact on interviews on Wednesday by talking to message bus/SOA/web services and virtualization companies focusing on serving the SaaS marketplace, represented by Boomi and Parallels. Once again though, no Microsoft at the show. (See my post about SaaS increasing the importance of partnering skills between vendors).
If you follow SaaS, there's a good chance you've heard mention of Boomi. Boomi has taken the concept of message bus technology and brought it to market as a SaaS service. I had the pleasure of meeting Boomi CTO Rick Nucci, and VP of Partners Programs, Lou Chappuie, during SaaScon. Rick and I immediately struck a harmonious chord as I've had experience implementing bus technologies in a number of commercial products, beginning back in the late 1990's.
Rick and Boomi are taking a decidedly different approach, providing pre-established connectors to popular commercial software packages, making it much easier for .NET, SOAP and other web services savvy applications interconnect with financial packages (including Great Plains), CRM (including Microsoft CRM and Dymanics) and many more solutions from Microsoft and other vendors. Take a listen to the interview with Rick. I think you'll be impressed with what Boomi has to offer and where they are headed.
Now you might know Parallels as the virtualization software Macintosh users utilize to run Windows and Linux on their Mac OS X computers, but there's a lot more behind the name Parallels. Parallels is actually the new corporate name for SW Soft who has been in the data center automation and virtualization business for a number of years now.
Parallels is uniquely positioned in the SaaS market given their longevity working with the hosting and managed services markets. And Parallels is making a very strong push to enable an ecosystem of partners and customers to bring virtualization into the SaaS ISV and application space. I was able to spend some quality time with Soeren von Varchmin, Parallel's VP of SaaS & Service Providers International markets. Soeren is extremely bright and very knowledgeable about the service provider market, and is playing a significant role in shaping Parallel's strategy in this area. (Pardon the noise as we did the interview during vendor tear down, with a cell phone a bit too close to the podcast microphone.)
SaaScon 2008 Wrap Up Thoughts Conclusions
Overall, I'd consider SaaScon a pleasant success. This is Computer World's first year running the conference after acquiring it, and SaaScon will likely undergo some transition as Computer World refines it and adds their own influences. Probably the biggest thing that stood out to me was who was missing, primarily in two areas -- Microsoft, and virtualization vendors. With the exception of Parallels, no other virtualization vendors attended. I think that will likely change next year. And of course I've already blogged about Microsoft being MIA from SaaScon.
One bit of feedback I heard from an IT executive of a major financial services firm who attended the show, was an expectation to see more vendors than were present at SaaScon 2008. (I'd guess there were 25-30 vendors who participated in the Expo portion of the show.) He thought there needed to be quite a bit more vendors to make a yearly repeat visit to the conference worthwhile. I think as the personality of the conference takes firmer shape, we'll see more vendor participation at future conferences.
Over the next year, I expect we'll see several large software players, including Microsoft, increase their SaaS presence by acquiring companies in this space. As such, I wouldn't be surprised to see two, three or more large software vendors make a showing at next year's SaaScon conference. And given the fact that SaaS is a hot market, we'll see more startups funded and appearing at the show.
My hat's off and congratulations to the team at Computer World and their partners for a successful SaaScon 2008. It has been a pleasure blogging about it.
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