I was at the Intalio Road Show yesterday where among other things Intalio introduced The Intalio Cloud or “Cloud in a Box” as Intalio likes to call it.
Just a few days ago a friend of mine rightly pointed out that all of this talk about Cloud is just some virtualisation at the data center level among other things – it’s a mishmash of technical things just packed to look like new. I could understand where he is coming from, nothing in the Intalio offering was truly out of the world either (appliances are not really new). To me Cloud was never a technical concept, but rather something that businesses would understand – more than virtualisation and services, businesses could understand the need to form, break and reform technical services, benefiting from what already exists, to suit their ever changing needs. But Cloud in a box? I have more sympathy for my friend now because this does reek of some marketing gimmick. Ismael Ghalimi, the CEO of Intalio, says it offers elastic scalability. Again I know what he means, but I would prefer if it wasn’t termed like that – all too often scalability means scaling up rather than finding the right size whatever that may be.
Coming back to the road show, it was good overall. Intalio has made what look like smart acquisitions. ProcessSquare which forms Intalio’s Business Edition would now allow actual business users to design their own processes. It offers a level of abstraction over their existing BPMN-based designer which is more familiar ground for analysts and process experts rather than real business users. And then Intalio have acquired CodeGlide which means Intalio now has a CRM offering which on paper at least seems to match (and maybe even better) salesforce. And there are more acquisitions coming in HRM for example, which mean Intalio Cloud now has the infrastructure, the platform to build and customise, and the applications on top that makes it a strong offering. Or as Intalio’s architecture diagram called it Infrastructure-as-a-service, Platform-as-a-service and Software-as-a-service levels. Oh dear!
Even though it was exciting to see these latest developments, I couldn’t help but feel that this road show was a sales pitch to larger, existing client representatives. After all, I was surrounded by some big name clients in financial services and retail. And I found myself concerned about Intalio’s early open source community users (there are some 50,000 companies in that crowd), but there was no mention of what was unique in the new Intalio for them. With these upcoming acquisitions Intalio would soon have some 10-15 million customers, and with this so called Boxing I just felt that perhaps the Bazaar was being boxed neatly into a Cathedral.
I must say that I am a fairly new Intalio user and this was my first ever Intalio road show. Ismael Ghalimi came across as a very confident and smart executive – more in tune with what the business is about and where it’s headed than some of the other Intalio reps on the day. But the whole show had a feeling that Intalio wanted to be in the “me too” crowd rather than taking a stand and being counted as different. Like any typical road show, they even had a couple of VAR/partner presentations thrown in. Intalio is trying to step up into the big league and acting like it, but it seemed unnatural. I have no clue what the VARs were doing there apart from selling their own. I would have much appreciated their presentations on why they are an Intalio partner and what their clients like about Intalio.
In my limited experience with Intalio, as good as the underlying open source technology seems to be, their documentation (or lack of it) is frustrating. They haven’t matured into an open source platform who knows what it means to support a community. And now I am not sure whether they are really scaling their presence or changing track all together. Intalio is backed by investors and I know how this bunch thinks. But it seems too sudden, almost unnatural, and I am not sure where all of this will land up. This could propel Intalio into a different league. But just as easily marginalise their community users and literally scare those simple-thinking aspirants. The good thing is Ismael said that Intalio acts on what their users tell them, in which case they should do fine.