Saturday, March 20, 2010

Cloud Based Project Management - DeskAway SaaS

CEO-DeskAway-SahilTechno-Pulse hosts Sahil Parikh for an exclusive Interview on Cloud Computing Services.

Sahil is a web entrepreneur living in Mumbai, India. He's the founder & CEO of Synage, a small software as a service company. He has been involved with the web since the last 9 years. He is passionate about the fusion of design & technology and that of building scalable web businesses. When not in front of the computer, Sahil spends his time reading, playing golf, tennis and traveling to distant places.


Q & A…

  • 2009 onwards Cloud Computing is a buzz. Even IT giants like Google, Microsoft and Amazon are throwing their weight behind this new trend. In a recent interview MS CEO Steve Ballmer told that 70% of Microsoft employees are working on some sort of Cloud related innovation. What made you think out-of- the- box in 2007?

It was not about thinking out of the box. The SaaS / Cloud model makes perfect sense in an era when the Internet is getting ubiquitous and everything is moving to a subscription model. I realized that the ownership of IT was not important as much as its consumption by businesses. We phased out our services business and plunged into SaaS early knowing that the future of software is online. It just seemed logical.

  • India aims to become the fastest growing economy in 2010. How can a growing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) benefit with this new technology trend?

That is exactly the area my book will be addressing. Small businesses will now have the ability to use the same tools and techniques that larger companies enjoyed for years. They can leverage Web 2.0/ Social Media tools to connect with prospects / customers, build their brand, and use Enterprise 2.0 tools to automate systems within their workplace using free, inexpensive and simple tools.

  • DeskAway is a SaaS  (Software as a Service). How do you compare your SaaS offering, in terms of Security, SLA & Scalability, with more established global SaaS providers viz.

I am not aware of Salesforce's architecture so I cannot comment.

  • Can Deskaway cater to the project management needs of small & mid size companies of non IT sector say manufacturing?

Absolutely. In fact, besides technology companies, DeskAway users are from manufacturing, healthcare, non-profits, accounting etc. We are seeing more and more teams move away from email as a primary form of collaboration (sharing files, delegating tasks, planning work etc.) and use a web-based application.

  • There are many similar services/products viz.  Basecamp, Zoho Projects & MS Project etc. What is the USP of Deskaway?

DeskAway Project 


We try to keep things simple, build powerful features, have an affordable pricing strategy and an amazing customer service standard. At the end of the day, it translates into a very positive experience that a user has with our application and company.

  • Security of data on the cloud is one of the most highlighted concerns for a customer who is more concerned about confidentiality of data. How are you addressing this issue?

Correct. This is a valid concern. This is the reason we decided to host with the best hosting provider in the world - Rackspace. You can find more information about our security practices here – DeskAway Security

  • Another SaaS related concern from customer’s point of view is sudden & unreasonable price hike once the customer’s business is growing & is dependent on the provider.  As Deskaway is also a subscription based SaaS,  what guarantee do you offer to your customer against this so called sudden inflation?

Well, this is easier done when you are selling on-premise software. With SaaS, you are constantly (month to month subscription) monitored by your users and it becomes harder to change the price point without pissing some people off. Though, I have seen SaaS companies increasing pricing once but not more than that. We do not offer any guarantee against a price increase. There is nothing wrong in increasing the price point if it is going to provide more value to your users.

  • You are a Cloud customer (of Rackspace) as well as a Cloud provider. I’ve noticed many Cloud Providers (SaaS + IaaS) are emphasizing on 100% Uptime (or 0% Downtime). Is it practically possible to offer a service with 100% Uptime guarantee? What’s your experience?

As with everything else, sh%$ can happen online. Downtime happens with everyone including Salesforce and Google. I think it is better to offer a lower guarantee and over deliver than the other way around.

  • Currently the top Indian IT companies are from services sector. A few experts believe that if the big IT players don’t get their Cloud Computing strategies right, they may be in for a rude shock as the SaaS & PaaS providers may dent heavily into their revenue. What are your views?

I don't see these companies switch to SaaS so soon. Services forms a large part of their revenue. Though, I can see them become integrators / service providers for other SaaS providers.

  • 5 years down the line, do you foresee any Cloud Provider dominating the Indian IT space?

I feel each application category will have a few dominating players. For email, I think Google Apps is taking the cake.


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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Develop SaaS on OrangeScape PaaS to Run on any Cloud Infrastructure


Pulse of Technology feels honored to virtually host Suresh Sambandam for an exclusive Interview on Cloud Computing Services. Also, thanks to Google Docs, a cloud based application, for making the real time collaboration easier for this interview document.

Suresh is the Founder & CEO of OrangeScape. OrangeScape is a pioneer in platform as a service (PaaS).

  • The only Indian company listed in research reports of Gartner and Forrester on PaaS. OrangeScape's patent pending rule engine based PaaS platform enables entrepreneurs to build scalable SaaS based business applications easily.
  • OrangeScape was showcased as one of the 3 emerging product companies in India by Nasscom and was also awarded Top IT Innovations for 2 consecutive years.
  • OrangeScape's technology is being used by Global brands like Citigroup, Pfizer, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Fullerton and 40 others.

Q & A…

  • Cloud Computing is relatively a new trend and a very few Indian companies have dared to venture into this challenging & lesser known territory. What made you think out-of- the-box?

Cloud Computing is an overarching term that is being used to cover a lot of things. Different companies embarked on simplifying different aspects of Computing. Companies like Amazon and Google went after System Infrastructure - leading to a massively scalable public cloud platforms. We at OrangeScape, went after Application Infrastructure i.e PaaS - Platform as a Service. And some, notably, went after the Application i.e SaaS design itself and came up with the concept of multi-tenant architecture. OrangeScape has embarked on simplifying the Application Infrastructure which includes the complete life cycle from creation-to-production long before we know Cloud Computing in the current form & shape. Embracing cloud became a natural choice for us when the forces came together.

  • The rising India economy has lead to the rapid growth of businesses based in India. What is the Cloud Computing implementation scene in India specifically for SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses)?

I personally feel that there is a Long Tail of business applications that need to be developed to address the computing / automation needs of Small & Medium Business. In the pre-cloud ERA, the cost of building software was so high that we often have to define a scope and leave out functionality which we feel doesn't fetch the ROI for automation. Cloud makes whatever that was previously left out of scope as candidate for automation now! Thanks to simplification, access and affordability brought by IaaS and PaaS.

  • OrangeScape specializes in PaaS  (Platform as a Service). How do you compare your PaaS offering with more established global PaaS providers offerings viz. Microsoft’s Windows Azure &  Google’s App Engine?

As you hinted in the earlier question, cloud is relatively new. The IT industry itself is still trying to get grips on various layers of Cloud. For instance, PaaS contains 2 layers: Cloud OS and Cloud Middleware. App Engine and Azure are examples of Cloud OS. OrangeScape is a cloud middleware or in Gartner's terms aPaaS  i.e. Application Platform as a Service. Hence we don't compete with App Engine or Azure, we complement them. Applications developed on OrangeScape platform can run on App Engine or Azure or even on Amazon AWS and IBM Smart Cloud. We call this Write Once, Cloud AnywhereTM.

  • Windows Azure supports C#, VB.Net, F# & other .Net supported languages. Google App Engine supports Python & Java. Which languages are supported by OrangeScape PaaS?

OrangeScape uses a modeling approach for developing applications. Various aspects of the application are captured declaratively, let us say in XML like or similar format, which is then executed by OrangeScape VM (Virtual Machine). The core of the VM is a powerful, patent pending rules engine which works on a complex networked data model. Using this technology our partners like Wipro have built full fledged ERP that handles all the business processes of any government organization in India.

  • As you said, for application development business rules are ‘captured declaratively’; Can I assume that no programming language skill is required for OrangeScape PaaS? What are the basic skills required to get started with OrangeScape PaaS?

It would be more accurate to say CODING from a conventional sense is not required. Just to dig little deeper into this: Most popular programming languages support ONLY Procedural Logic for expressing business logic. However, OrangeScape goes beyond Procedural Logic and supports Rule Based Logic for expressing business logic. Rule Based Logic brings in tremendous power when developing complex business applications. Developers need to only specify what is expected and no need to specify when it needs to be executed. OrangeScape rule engine takes care of that. Both of these logic representation can be used in different parts of the same application based on the scenario and fitment.

Also, at this point it is worth mentioning that our philosophy is to elevate the developers to a new & high level of skill set by eliminating all the not-so-intellectual work that they are doing today. No one will disagree with me that beyond a point, most people aspire to become designers and then solution architects rather than being coders. By choosing to work on OrangeScape platform someone can fast track this aspiration. Anybody who works on OrangeScape starts with designing not coding. We call this White Collar developers.  I want to leave this topic with the final note: OrangeScape product definitely needs a smart, analytical thinking, modeling expert who have a Solution Oriented mindset to derive the best out of it.

  • How can OrangeScape Cloud provide an alternate platform to small & mid size IT companies who are  developing enterprise wide applications on Java & .Net platform?

As I said before OrangeScape platform is a perfect choice for small and mid sized IT companies, especially those who are trying to productize their solutions into SaaS offerings. OrangeScape offers a complete platform to develop - test - stage - live. More interestingly companies can use our platform free of charge for the develop-test-stage environments. They start paying us only when they start earning i.e. receiving subscription revenues from their live application. I am not aware of any other platform offering this in India and Overseas.

  • What is the USP of OrangeScape Cloud?

OrangeScape is the world’s only platform to build portable business applications that can run on industry leading cloud infrastructures offered by Google, Microsoft, Amazon and IBM.

  • Security is one of the most highlighted concerns for a customer who is more concerned about confidentiality of data. Is it justified?

Of course, yes. When it comes to data it is important to understand various aspects of data that need to be protected:

  1. Safety
  2. Security
  3. Privacy

I can surely say that when it comes to Safety & Security, individuals and enterprises - especially the SMBs, are better off going with a cloud provider. There is no way they can have similar infrastructure to protect the safe keeping of data without the economies of scale. However, Privacy is a tricky one. It is a matter of trust and hence built over time. Today, for instance, we don't worry whether the banking staff is looking into your account to understand what kind of purchases you have been making with your debit card. To reach to this level, it takes time and brand building.

  • You have explicitly used Safety & Security. What's the difference between them in context of Cloud Computing Services?

Safety translates into not loosing your data as in Data Loss. Translates into hardware, software and processes that are required to make sure data is backed up, redundantly stored, geographically distributed, etc, etc.

Security translates into protecting your data from hackers. Translates into firewalls, anti-virus, intruder detection, protection etc, etc.

  • One more issue cropping up these days about Cloud Service Providers is the Vendor-Lock-In, How are you addressing this?

OrangeScape helps companies to develop portable business applications that can run on various cloud infrastructures. Without OrangeScape, it is quite difficult to move an application that is built to work for an RDBMS based approach to leverage App Engine's BigTable or vice-versa. OrangeScape makes this process a breeze. Applications developed on OrangeScape platform can be seamlessly deployed into any of the cloud providers above. We also have capability to move existing data INTO or OUT of these cloud infrastructures. Part of our roadmap, we have plans to OPEN OrangeScape platform as a community edition to fully address the Vendor-Lock-In issue.

  • Say, there’s an SMB in Manufacturing sector for 25+ years. Currently they are manually maintaining data & transactions in excel sheet & PDF documents. They are maintaining Enquiries, Quotations, Customer List, Purchase Orders etc:  a CRM sort of requirement. They are using e-Mail to send the scanned documents to the customers. They don’t want to maintain a team of software developers or a big IT infrastructure. How easy/complex is it for a customer like this to implement a customized CRM sort of application using OrangeScape PaaS?

It is definitely around 3 - 5 times easier to develop this kind of application in OrangeScape when compared to any other conventional paradigm. However, the key questions to ask is whether to build a system using OrangeScape PaaS or buy a SaaS subscription. OrangeScape partners are building SaaS solutions for specific verticals more specifically addressing the general needs of the SMB segment. It is better to buy SaaS based subscriptions for standard application and build unique differentiated applications using OrangeScape's PaaS platform.

  • Microsoft, Google & Amazon are betting heavily on cloud computing as the next step in the Internet's evolution. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said, the Cloud will wind up "being the place of innovation that lets us pull our lives together the way we want to, to touch people the way we want to [and] to find people when and how, and [in] the way we want to." Do you think the cloud computing will catapult the small but innovative creator to the big league in short period of time?

Cloud is the new Hardware. SaaS is the new software and PaaS is the new middleware. We believe that we will have a unique position and advantage in the Cloud Computing market space very similar to Microsoft riding on top of the IBM PC Wave. Those days Microsoft was the small but innovative creator.

  • Currently the top Indian IT companies are from services sector. A few experts believe that if the big IT players don’t get their Cloud Computing strategies right, they may be in for a rude shock as the SaaS & PaaS providers may dent heavily into their revenue. What are your views?

Honestly, it is unclear how things are going to pan out. But, I can tell you that the Top 5 Indian IT players are already investing heavily on Cloud. They surely know cloud is not a fad and going to stay here for sure. My personal opinion is that we have been touting about Solution Orientation in the IT Services play. Cloud  / Saas can potentially make that as an imperative to stay in the IT Services play.


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Sunday, March 7, 2010

India Based Cloud Computing Service Providers

21st century economic power house: India, the 2nd fastest growing economy has mesmerized the world with its stunningly high economic growth rate since last 2 decades. A World Bank report has projected that in 2010, the rate of growth of India's economy would be faster than the currently fastest growing economy (i.e. China). What does this mean for SMBs, PSUs, MNCs or any business entity based in India? Last 5 years have seen Indian companies on a buying spree, resulting in acquiring many big & small overseas companies. In brief, Indian companies, sitting on a huge cash piles, are ready to rapidly scale up in their niche.

Updated List - India Based Cloud Computing Companies to Watch in 2011/12

Interestingly, India is a global leader in providing IT services but the implementation of IT in its burgeoning domestic market is still lagging. This may be a boon in disguise as they have an opportunity to adopt the latest trend in technology arena - Cloud Computing.

I’ve already posted an article on global Top 10 Cloud Computing Service Providers of 2009. Now let us check out what are the options for companies that are looking for India based Cloud Computing Service providers. Currently, most of them are start-ups and are nowhere near the top global cloud vendors like Amazon, Google, Salesforce or Microsoft but they have the potentials to compete with these giants in near future.

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Here’s the list of India based Cloud Computing Service Providers, in random order.

Zenith InfoTech

  • Base Location: Mumbai, India
  • Cloud Offering: PROUD
  • Cloud Type: IaaS

An IT product development and innovation company. With an investment of INR 175-crore, this is considered as India’s one of the most ambitious R&D efforts in IT. The company is expecting 2,000 - 3,000 clients of Proud in next 2 years.

Wolf Frameworks

  • Base Location: Bangaluru, India
  • Cloud Offering: Wolf PaaS
  • Cloud Type: PaaS

Founded in 2006, it provides affordable cloud service with 99.97% Service Level Assurance. Wolf is a browser based On Demand Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) for rapidly designing and delivering database driven multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. One can get started without writing any piece of code whatsoever. Coding only comes in when you need custom templates or specific integration Business Rule actions


  • Base Location: Chennai, India
  • Cloud Offering: OrangeScape Cloud
  • Cloud Type: PaaS

The experience of building business applications of varying complexity across industries has made OrangeScape the most comprehensive PaaS (Platform as a Service) offering in the market. You can transform your idea into a SaaS application and can showcase them to your investors, partners and potential customers. It has an impressive list of customers viz. Ford, Pfizer, Geojit, Sify etc.


  • Base Location: India
  • Cloud Offering: ITaaS
  • Cloud Type: IaaS+SaaS

ITaaS is a Nano in software. ITaaS framework is a one-stop shop for total end-to-end IT and hardware solutions. It includes hardware, network, bandwidth & business software. Currently ITaaS is available for 5 sectors: Manufacturing, Retail, Healthcare, Education and Professional Services.

Cynapse India

  • Base Location: Mumbai, India
  • Cloud Offering:
  • Cloud Type: IaaS + on Demand SaaS on demand is a cloud hosted service and is the quickest way to get your own server, without the hassles of having to set it up. With a on-demand system, you get a dedicated virtual server running a appliance that is maintained & updated by Cynapse and hosted by Amazon, ensuring an infrastructure-free and worry-free experience.

Wipro Technologies

  • Base Location: India
  • Cloud Offering: Wipro w-SaaS
  • Cloud Type: SaaS

Wipro has built w-SaaS, a platform for rapid SaaS enablement and deployment on cloud, using some of the commonly accepted trends in software engineering and open standards. Wipro chose Oracle (Oracle Database, Oracle WebLogic Application Server and Oracle VM) as the deployment platform for w-SaaS enabled applications. The software vendor can deploy the same application on-premise or on the cloud using w-SaaS and Oracle.

Netmagic Solutions

  • Base Location: Mumbai, India
  • Cloud Offering:
      • CloudNet
      • CloudServe
      • PrivateCloud
  • Cloud Type: IaaS

Netmagic looks like a dedicated cloud provider in Indian market with a potential to become a big player in near future.

Reliance Data Center (a division of Reliance Communications)

  • Base Location: India
  • Cloud Offering: Reliance Cloud Computing Services
  • Cloud Type: IaaS+SaaS+PaaS (?)

A hosted infrastructure service based on the Microsoft platform for Enterprises and SMBs - geared to deliver India’s largest cloud infrastructure.

Infosys Technologies

  • Base Location: Bangalore, India.
  • Cloud Offering: Cloud based Solution for Auto Sector.
  • Cloud Type: SaaS (?)

Infosys’ Cloud Computing Consulting and Service offerings enable organizations to adopt the Cloud Computing platform selectively and effectively. But brand Infosys, the most recognized IT brand from India has to put significant efforts to catch up with other cloud providers.


  • Base Location: Mumbai, India.
  • Cloud Offering: DeskAway
  • Cloud Type: SaaS

A Web company delivering software as a service (SaaS) over the Internet to the global audience. DeskAway is the flagship product of Synage, based on a monthly or yearly subscription model, requiring zero-installation, and powered by a cutting-edge user interface, It’s the future of project & team collaboration software.

Though the companies listed here have a long way to go before they can be compared with the best in the world yet they have the potential to grow big with the growing Indian economy.

Have I missed any deserving Indian cloud company? 

Submit cloud based offerings/services to Techno-Pulse Cloud Directory.

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