December 21, 2012, 12:02 PM — Isn't the cloud supposed to make life easier?
The $40 million cash infusion that Cloud Sherpas announced it got yesterday made me wonder. The company helps businesses implement Google Apps and Salesforce and integrate those systems with internal apps.
A $40 million injection means investors are confident that Cloud Sherpas' business will keep growing, suggesting that there's a need for the kind of help Cloud Sherpas offers. That means all the marketing spin from the cloud providers about how easy it is to get started using their services and maintain them isn't quite on the mark.
Source: gurdonark via Flickr
I asked Cloud Sherpas' CEO what he thinks it means that there's a need for the services his company offers.
"User expectations are off the charts in terms of speed and ease of use," CEO David Northington said about cloud services. "Anything you attempt to do with the technology landscape of a significant corporation is already complicated before you start. So off the bat you're talking about a complex concept to begin with. Cloud is actually a simpler solution but it doesn't mean it's an out-of-the-box solution or one you plug in and turn on and it integrates and does everything you want to do."
While Google Apps and Salesforce are powerful services, they are in many cases replacing something that a business has built over time and integrated with many other apps, he said. Companies switch to Google Apps or Salesforce because they want them to do everything their old system did, and more. That takes some work, he said. "That's the reality on the ground," Northington said.
Around half of their Salesforce deployments involve some kind of integration either with other cloud services or with apps behind the firewall, said Mike Cohn, vice president of marketing for Cloud Sherpas.
Northington cited Gartner research predicting that the cloud services business will be worth $100 billion (that's right, with a B) in 2014, so Cloud Sherpas isn't an anomaly.
In addition to helping companies get started with Google Apps and Salesforce, Cloud Sherpas also does some work setting up apps on the PaaS offerings from those providers. The apps run the gamut, from simply porting existing apps into the cloud or totally custom apps, he said.
I was surprised to hear that designing apps for mobile phones and tablets isn't a huge request they get at Cloud Sherpas. "It's certainly not the first and foremost conversation in every case," Northington said. But the company is getting an increasing number of requests for help with that and has a mobile practice focused on helping companies that need it, he said.
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