July 22, 2008, 3:26 PM — Cast Iron Systems, maker of an appliance for integrating SaaS and on-premise applications, is introducing a new version that adds data cleansing and migration tools, along with a library of prebuilt integration templates for connecting many commercial software-as-a-service products.
The iA4000 series is also available in hosted form. Customers are "starting to demand more out of the processes associated with a SaaS application, and integration is the key to that," said CEO Ken ComÃ©e. For example, a user of a hosted CRM (customer relationship management) system may want to plug their help-desk system into it, he said.
Cast Iron developed the data-profiling and conversion functionality on its own. But the company is not looking to compete head-to-head with heavy-duty data-cleansing tools sold by the likes of Informatica, and instead is trying to provide a one-stop shop for a typical SaaS customer's or independent software vendor's integration requirements.
"Could you always bring in an extra tool? The answer is yes," ComÃ©e said. "But we bring it all in one appliance."
Beyond the templates, Cast Iron also provides a separate visual designer for mapping data to business processes.
Cast Iron, located in Mountain View, California, was formed in 2001 and claims to have hundreds of customers, including British American Tobacco, Peet's Coffee & Tea and the Sports Authority.
The company generally targets the midmarket, where companies have limited IT resources. It views its competition largely as in-house developers, as opposed to other data integration vendors, said Chandar Pattabhiram, vice president of product marketing.
One Cast Iron customer, the location-based mobile business application provider Gearworks, beta-tested the iA4000 product and is currently using it, said CTO Rob Juncker.
He called the templates "extremely useful" and said new data-cleansing functions help the Eagan, Minnesota, company ''make sure data coming into our system is meeting requirements."
Pricing for Cast Iron's starts at US$1,500 per month. The iA4000 sells for $4,500.